Learning to Fly: Dimples and Golf Ball Design


My name is Nick Nardacci and I’m Senior Products
Manager, in charge of Research & Development for aerodynamics. Myself and my team are responsible for aerodynamic
research, development, and implementation of new products at Titleist. Dimples are what make the golf ball fly. If the core is the engine of the golf ball,
the dimples are kind of like the wings on an airplane. One of the fun examples that we use to look
at or to illustrate the effect of dimples and what they do on a golf ball is to have
a golf ball that has dimples on one side and not on the other – smooth on the other side. The first case we’ll tee up the ball with
the dimples on the left hand side, and what the players will see will be that the golf
ball tends to turn very hard to that left direction. And then we’ll flip the ball around and we’ll
tee up the ball with the dimples on the right hand side. And again, when you hit the ball it will curve
hard to the right and it does that because there is more lift on the side with the dimples;
therefore it tends to move in that direction. The dimples help to create lift, and once
the golf ball leaves the clubhead the only things that are acting on the golf ball are
the aerodynamic forces and gravity. It’s the fact that the air is moving faster
over the top, as a result of moving faster, the pressure is lower, that’s what creates
the lift force that is acting in that upper direction. As another illustration that we typically
like to use, we’ll take a ball with no dimples on it, and we’ll hit that golf ball. A lot of times, people think that a golf ball
without dimples will fly further. Conversely, it’s kind of like a knuckle ball. It really doesn’t know where to go. It;s predominantly driven by drag force. As a result of that, it flies shorter. This is just a simple illustration or an example
that we have fun with, but we really are serious about this. It really does matter and that’s really what
we’re trying to drive home to players. The dimples aren’t just something that are
pretty to look at. They really do help us refine the products
that we deliver.

9 thoughts on “Learning to Fly: Dimples and Golf Ball Design

  1. Learning to Fly: Dimples and Golf Ball Design

    Why do golf balls have dimples? Would a golf ball without dimples fly farther? And why are dimples so important?

    These are just a few questions that we hear from time-to-time, so we decided to catch up with the aerodynamics experts inside of our golf ball R&D team to get a masters class on the topic.

    And like any good professor, they were more than ready with some pretty cool teaching aids to help us get an even better understanding of the role dimples play in the overall performance of a golf ball.

    If you want to see what happens when we hit a golf ball that only has dimples on one side or watch the flight of a dimple-free golf ball, check out this video and you’ll walk away with answers to all of the questions above – along with a deeper appreciation for how a golf ball flies.

    #TeamTitleist   

  2. A major part of the drag on the ball is caused by turbulence which is produced when the air flow separates from the ball. The dimples help to keep that air flow 'attached' to the surface of the ball longer, thereby reducing turbulence and drag. That's how you get more sustained speed and greater stability; reduce the turbulence. Cool stuff.

  3. Next video: How does the size of the dimple affect the flight of the ball? Can we see some half-huge-dimpled and some half-tiny-dimpled golf balls? What about the depth of the dimple? The shape of the dimple? What if the dimples were hexagonal? What if the dimples were concave instead of convex? What about patterns? So many possibilities for the R&D lab!

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