Golf balls are regulated by the USGA and R&A. These regulations exist to maintain a level playing field for professional golf. However, there are no official regulations that determine the number of dimples on a golf ball.
This characteristic is left to golf equipment manufacturers to engineer and implement. Golfers can typically expect a golf ball to contain anywhere from 300 to 400 dimples.
What do Golf Ball Dimples Do?
The dimples on a golf ball reduce drag. The dimples produce a cushion or shield of air around the golf ball that reduces air resistance and makes the ball fly straighter and farther. The exact specifications of the dimples can also affect the lift of the golf ball. The size and depth of a golf ball’s dimples can affect how high the golf ball travels.
How Important are Golf Ball Dimples?
Golf ball dimples are exceptionally important to achieve accuracy in golf. For example, a baseball has asymmetric stitching which is able to influence the flight of the ball over a very short distance. This is how baseball pitchers can throw such complex pitches. However, golfers are predominantly trying to hit the ball straight. The golf ball dimple makes the ball “slippery” and less likely to curve in a particular direction.
Most companies have unique golf ball dimple designs. Callaway has its patented Hexagon pattern, which increases the dimple surface area. Similarly, Bridgestone has a new unique design that has dimples within other dimples. The differences between dimple design between companies are measurable, but there are many other aspects to golf ball design as well.
Golf ball design has many other factors that go into it. The cover of golf balls can be made out of different materials. One is urethane, which is a plastic rubber mix that creates good green control. Surlyn plastic is the other, which is a cheaper material than urethane. However, surlyn is more wear-resistant and has less spin off the tee. Different golf balls also have different interior cores. Different balls have different numbers of cores and different core materials. Overall, the number of dimples is simply one of the many distinguishing characteristics between golf balls.
What Are the Enforced Golf Ball Regulations?
- The ball must not be substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make. The material and construction of the ball must not be contrary to the purpose and intent of the Rules
- The weight of the ball must not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 g)
- The diameter of the ball must not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm)
- The ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball
- The initial velocity of the ball must not exceed the limit specified under the conditions set forth in the Initial Velocity Standard for golf balls on file with The R&A and USGA
- The combined carry and roll of the ball, when tested on apparatus approved by The R&A and USGA, must not exceed the distance specified under the conditions set forth in the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls on file with the R&A and USGA
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