Why Are Golf Balls Dimpled?

If you’re a golfer, you already know that golf balls must meet specific standards for you to use them in tournaments and even in some classic games.

Why Are Golf Balls Dimpled

Its weight, diameter, and many other aspects that US Golf Association (USGA) regulate it. You can be disqualified from any competition if the ball you’re using doesn’t meet those requirements. 

But what about the dimples in a golf ball? Are they regulated in any way? In the meantime, exactly why are golf balls dimpled? Believe it or not, there is a good explanation for these situations.

While the USGA does require that golf balls be dimpled and that those dimples be symmetrical in shape, it does not require a certain number of dimples. However, most golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples.

Suppose you’re curious about why Golf Balls are dimpled. In that case, the main reason is this: a dimpled ball gives the golfers an edge and makes it easier to enjoy better scores with each game.

Why Are Golf Balls Dimpled?

At one point, all golf balls were smooth and dimple-free. It is because it made older golf balls out of leather or even tree sap, and therefore each ball was a tiny bit different in shape and design than the next one.

During the mid-1800s, golfers started noticing that the balls they used performed much better when they were dented, dinged, and otherwise malformed. Since golfers are not scientists or engineers, they did not know why this happened, but they decided to act anyway.

People started experimenting with golf balls with different dimples. By 1905, the first patent for a dimpled golf ball came on the scene. There is a good reason why dimpled golf balls still use today.

In 2014, an experiment conducted by golf experts tested the effectiveness of a dimpled golf ball versus one that was smooth.

In every test, the smooth ball only went about half as far as the dimpled ball did. In addition, soft golf balls did not go nearly as high as the dimpled ones did.

Let’s take a look at the reasons for these dimples in a little more detail.

A More Scientific Explanation

There is an essential scientific explanation of why golf balls with dimples play much better than they discuss smooth balls here. Golf balls are affected by lift and drag, and dimpled golf balls improve the ball’s performance in both of these areas.

When balls are smooth, turbulence is created behind the ball when airflow occurs over the top of the ball. This turbulence causes a lot of drag on the ball and brings it down much sooner.

On the other hand, Dimples create just the right amount of resistance that leads to less drag and enables the ball to fly higher and farther.

A long time ago, golfers noticed that nicks and cuts caused the balls to perform much better. It eventually led to dimples made on purpose, the “nicks and cuts” of today.

It’s the decision to put dimples on a golf ball discovery by accident. There is little doubt that the game of golf would not be nearly as entertaining or powerful if we were still playing with smooth golf balls.

It’s likely that at some point, golf balls study by scientists or engineers who provided a more complex explanation for this phenomenon. But suffice to say that the discovery of dimpled golf balls is one of the most significant things to come out of the golf game in the last 200 years.

For it’s better, dimples are symmetrical instead of asymmetrical, and this symmetry is one of the few requirements that the USGA has regarding dimples on a golf ball.

They do not require a certain number of dimples per ball. The manufacturers of golf balls have many leeways for the design and even the materials used in making the balls.

They can even come in colors other than white these days! But when it comes to the dimples, they must be symmetrical regardless of how many they include on the ball.

Before we go any further, here are a few other things you might want to remember about golf ball dimples and how the ball performs. First, half of a golf ball’s lift directly results from it having dimples – that’s how important these tiny indentures are.

It’s the other half of the lift caused by the backspin. When the airflow beneath the ball becomes higher than above it, the ball drives upward where it is supposed to be, making for a much better shot overall.

As you can see, these tiny dimples are not just interesting-looking but serve an essential purpose. They are not there to make the ball look better, nor were they just haphazardly put there.

Dimples Affect Almost Everything About the Ball’s Performance

Again, dimples affect the ball’s performance and are necessary to hit it farther and higher. However, because they work so perfectly, manufacturers do not usually change anything about the dimples on their golf balls.

They may change the materials or even how the inside of the golf ball makes. Still, they generally leave the dimples alone and keep them just as they are so that players can enjoy the many benefits they offer.

When it comes to dimples, even their shape doesn’t matter. Callaway once came up with a golf ball composed of hexagon-shaped dimples, and it did just as well as those with spherical dimples.

It seems that dimples on a golf ball also tend to follow a specific pattern. Most balls consist of a shallow dimple followed by a deeper one. Once again, this is not a requirement for every single golf ball made.

As long as the dimples are symmetrical, they are considered appropriate for tournament play. In case you’re interested, the average depth of a golf ball’s dimple is 0.010 inches.

Most manufacturers try to keep their golf balls’ design, size, and shape consistent with others. That’s why more than 1,000 golf balls are now considered acceptable for tournament play by the USGA.

So far, you have learned a few answers to the question, why are golf balls dimpled. And you’re starting to see why they are so vital if you want to experience some control over your golf game.

Because the dimples increase your lift and decrease drag, it is much easier for the ball to fly higher and land a lot closer to the next hole. In addition, they cause less frustration because they provide the player with a lot more control over the game itself. It’s more important than anything else when you’re playing golf.

Finally, dimples even affect the impact once the ball hits the club. Even though this hit lasts a tiny amount of time, the dimples allow the ball to continue flying through the air afterward.

If the ball didn’t have dimples, you could still hit the ball, but the ball may drop a few feet away instead of going farther and longer, which is what you want in the end. 

Dimples on a golf ball make them look good, of course, because smooth golf balls would likely be a little boring.

But as you can see, they are there for much more than just aesthetic purposes, mainly because they add a little oomph to every game you play.


Although golf balls haven’t always had dimples, we now know that scientifically, they help the balls go farther and higher with every swing. Still, most of all, they give the player a much better sense of control over the ball, so that better gameplay.

Remember that the dimples’ shape and design are unnecessary, even though most dimples are 0.010 inches deep. They can be round or hexagon-shaped, and for the most part, golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples in all.

While the USGA does not specify the number of dimples, dimples must be symmetrical in design. It’s essentially the only requirement that the USGA has put forth for golf balls.

Most people can’t believe that something as simple as changing the design of the golf ball could have such a significant impact on the game itself, but that is what has happened.

Fortunately, It’s more than 1,000 golf balls accepted by the USGA as “official” balls appropriate for tournament use. So you shouldn’t have any problems finding balls that work right on the golf course.

Suppose you prefer neon or bright colors instead of boring white golf balls. You can go for it, too; it’s another area on which the USGA has not put any restrictions.

Continue Reading: