If you are asking yourself…how many dimples are on a golf ball? Then you’re in the right place.
The answer will depend on the manufacturer and which ball model you hold in your hand. In general, most golf balls will have between 300-500 dimples.
Let’s take a look at the 2022 Titleist golf ball range and see how many dimples they have:
Titleist ProV 1 golf ball has 388 dimples
Titleist ProV1x has 348 dimples
Titleist Velocity has 350 dimples
What’s also interesting to note is that Titleist even changes the shape of the dimples across the different balls.
Why do the balls have a different number and even shapes of dimples? I would guess because the balls are made from different materials, and often have different goals in mind. Some aim to increase distance, while others want more or less spin. Changing the number, shape and pattern of the dimples I would imagine would impact that. I’ll explain this in more detail below.
Are There Any Rules On How Many Dimples A Golf Ball Can Have?
When it comes to the laws around what makes a conforming golf ball, the R&A look at the size, weight and symmetry of the golf ball. They even restrict how fast the ball can come off the club face. But there are no rules around how many dimples the golf ball can have.
That means it’s up to the manufacturer to decide what they think is the optimal number of dimples to get the best performance, and let me tell you, there is some science behind that.
This may lead to the deeper question of… Why do golf balls even have dimples? Surely it’s not just me whose mind went there?
Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?
The short answer is…
Dimples help the golf ball travel further
The slightly longer, slightly more technical answer…
Dimples help the golf ball travel further by reducing drag and increasing lift.
And the full-blown sciency answer… with diagrams…
I’m about to share with you the science behind this, if you’re not bothered about that you can skip to the next section where you’ll find out why you need to keep your balls warm…, but I was genuinely quite interested in the science behind this, so just in case you are too, here it is…
In the first image, you’ll see a smooth golf ball, and the lines represent the flow of air. The air hits the front of the golf ball, is separated around it and then once over stays separated. In that gap behind the ball an area of low pressure forms, causing drag, which slows the ball down. The bigger the gap, the bigger the low pressure zone and the larger the force of drag becomes.
In the second image below you’ll see a golf ball with dimples and what happens is quite amazing. The benefit comes in two main places, the front of the ball and behind the ball.
The big factor, and one most talked about is what happens behind the ball. The dimples cause the flow of air to stick much closer to the ball, resulting in a much smaller area of low pressure behind the ball and thus less drag slowing the ball down.
What I haven’t shown in the image is another benefit of the dimples that occurs in front of the ball. As the flow of air hits the ball, air molecules gets trapped in the dimples, accumulating at the front. The mass of air at the front means the oncoming air separates earlier which in my mind creates the picture of a more piercing movement. This is known as ‘Form Drag’. I learned this from Anthony Blazevich’s book, Sports Biomechanics – The Basics: Optimising Human Performance.
Now let’s take a look at the final benefit of dimples… lift.
When you hit a shot, you hopefully apply some backspin to the ball, when you do this something called the “Magnus Effect” comes into play. Note, this same principle applies to the slices and hooks too…. So too much spin is not a good thing.
When you apply backspin to the ball, the air that flows over the top of the ball starts to travel faster than the air below it. This then causes the area of higher pressure to be towards the bottom of the ball and thus pushes the ball up into the air.
There you have it, that’s the scientific answer and I hope that made sense.
The next obvious question might be… so why don’t all objects that fly through the air have dimples… a plane for example. Good question… planes aren’t shaped like balls, they are designed to pierce through the air… Planes, therefore, don’t need the same help that golf balls do to create an efficient flight.
Now, are you ready for some more science-based tips for your golf balls?
Keep Your Golf Balls Warm
When playing in cold conditions keep your balls as warm as you can. Don’t leave your golf balls in the car overnight before your round. If anything leave them near the radiator. Why? Because warm golf balls bounce off the club face much better than cold ones. And that means they will travel further.
But before you start thinking you’re smart by using a handwarmer and heating the golf balls that way, that would be breaking the rules and you could be disqualified from your competitions. So don’t do that.
Keep Your Golf Balls Clean
Ever watched a pro golf tournament and heard one of the players shout “MUD BALL” after hitting their shot? What they are referring to is that their ball had a clump of mud on it and they are blaming that for the poor end result they are about to get.
Having dirt or mud on the ball can dramatically affect the flight of a ball. Have a bit of mud on the right side of the ball and the ball will likely head off to the left. Why does it do this? Well, now you know how spin affects airflow over the ball and mud will impact that for sure. If the mud is on the right side, the airflow on that side is slower, and thus faster on the left, causing the ball to curve left.
So give your ball a good clean in between holes and in winter when playing winter rules, take full advantage of that situation and if you are on the fairway and allowed to pick up your ball, give it a clean.
How Do Scuffs & Scratches Affect A Golf Ball Flight?
It’s the same with scratches and scuffs. If your golf ball has ventured off into the trees a couple of times, or found a path, or just been used for a while, it will pick up scuffs and scrapes. These scrapes, like the mud, can cause a major effect on where your golf ball ends up. Same as with the mud example, the ball will travel to the opposite side of the scuff. (Although if you still hit a massive slice I’m not sure placing the scuff on the right side will help all that much).
So if you are using a scuffed-up golf ball, it might be time to grab a new one from the bag.
So there you have it, you started off by asking the simple question of… “how many dimples are on a golf ball?” and you’ve gone down the rabbit hole now knowing why golf balls have dimples, how they affect the flight of the ball and a few science-backed tips about your golf balls.
If you enjoyed this then I reckon you’ll enjoy a few other articles we have on here…
Perhaps you’re a beginner and need to figure out what all the different words people are using even mean. If so check out our guide of golf terms.
Or maybe you’re trying to figure out the Stableford scoring system, click here for that.
Or perhaps you want to see which golf clubs are in the Top 100 in the UK & Ireland so you can create your wishlist of places to play.