Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

October 2, 2022 6:33 pm Published by

Why Are There Dimples on Golf Balls and What Effect Does It Have?

A pack of biodegradable golf balls with dimples

Have you ever wondered why golf balls have little bumps (more commonly referred to as “dimples”) all over them? Well, today’s post takes a look at why and how these “dimples”
came to be.

Brief History of Golf Balls Having Dimples

Originally, golf balls were smooth all around without any forms of bumps or “dimples”.

Later on, more and more golfers came to realize that, by using an older and more “beat-up” golf ball that has bumps all around it, they gained an extra advantage as these golf balls with bumps seemed to travel further compared to a brand-new, shiny and smooth golf ball.

And once using these older and bumpier golf balls became mainstream and popular amongst golfers, golf ball manufacturers wasted no time altering their manufacturing process and golf ball designs to better meet the demands of golf balls.

Thus, gradually, golf ball manufacturers across the globe began producing golf balls with dimples on them. Eventually, a golf ball with an entirely smooth exterior became a relic of the past whilst golf balls with dimples became the new norm.

The Science Behind Having Dimples on Golf Balls

Now that we understand how golf balls came to have dimples on them, it is also perhaps worth taking a look at why and how these dimples made golf balls travel further.

The simple explanation is that the dimples on a golf ball reduce the drag and, in return, with less drag, it can travel much further than compared to a smooth golf ball; experts have calculated that, on average, a dimpled golf ball has half the drag of a smooth golf ball.

For a more in-depth explanation, the dimples on the golf ball create a thin and tiny layer of turbulence on its exterior (as a golf ball averagely has 500 dimples, picture 500 little turbulences on the surface of a golf ball every time it is struck).

These turbulences created by the dimples will then, allow the golf ball to travel further as smoother flowing air was able to remain at the back of the ball.

In comparison, a golf ball with smooth exterior would not generate any turbulences when struck. Thus, with no turbulences, the air flow at the back of the ball would be much more unstable and prone to fluctuation.


  • Dimples on golf balls came about as it travelled faster and further than a golf ball with smooth exterior
  • Golfers gradually started to realize this and opted to use older golf balls that had bumps all over them.
  • Golf ball manufacturers followed the trend and began producing and selling dimpled golf balls.
  • Dimpled golf balls became the new norm, rendering golf balls with smooth exterior to be discontinued.
  • Dimpled golf balls travel faster than a smooth golf ball as it creates turbulences that allows for more stable flowing air on the back of the ball.
  • With more stable air on the back of a golf ball, the drag force on the motion of the golf ball is reduced, hence, allowing it to fly further and faster.
  • A dimpled golf ball has half the drag of a golf ball with smooth exterior.

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This post was written by Mitchell Schols