How Many Dimples Are On A Golf Ball? Why Do Balls Have Dimples?

How Many Dimples Are On A Golf Ball? Why Do Balls Have Dimples?

The small indentations on a golf ball are called "dimples." This unique design has led to many questions from curious golfers.

In this guide, we'll answer these questions related to golf ball dimples and the golf ball in general, including:

How Many Dimples Are On A Golf Ball?

The vast majority of the most popular modern golf balls have between 300 and 400 dimples

Some exceptions that go beyond 400 or even 500+ dimples, but not among our favorite balls and the balls that are typically proven to perform the best for most golfers. One such example is the Mizuno RB 566 and RB 566 V. They get their name from design which includes 566 "micro-dimples."

How Many Dimples Are On The Most Popular Golf Balls

While everyone has their own opinions, the Titleist Pro V1 has generally been regarded as the best golf ball in the modern era. The majority of top PGA Tour Professionals play a PRO V1 or one of its variations. Even golfers with other preferences would still consider it a great option for many golfers.

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Cores and Dimples

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Cores and Dimples

Not only do Titleist's Pro V1 and their other expensive tour-level golf balls have dimple counts in the 300-400 range, but their cheaper balls like the TruFeel are also in this range.

Golf balls with 300-400 dimples are not exclusive to Titleist. 

Bridgestone golf balls, known for their use by elite pros like Tiger Woods and Bryson Dechambeau, have dimple counts in the low 300s.

Bridge Stone Tour B X

Bridgestone Tour B X

Some slightly lesser-known golf balls that have performed exceptionally well in independent testing also show similar dimple counts.

While we're mentioning these, it's worth noting that the Mizuno Tour Balls and the direct-to-consumer Snell MTB-X have been proven to offer very similar or even better performance than the more expensive tour balls mentioned above, despite them being a fraction of the price.

Snell MTB-X Cutaway Showing Core

Snell MTB-X

Note: Golf ball manufacturers often make small changes to their designs over time. The dimple counts of previous or future iterations of these balls may differ.

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

Golf balls are designed with dimples to reduce aerodynamic drag and to optimize lift.

As Steve Quintavella, USGA Equipment Standards Operation Manager, discusses in the video below, a golf ball with dimples can travel twice as far as a smooth ball because they reduce drag by about half compared to a smooth ball.

More specifically, dimples reduce drag by creating pockets of turbulence that allow air to flow more closely around the ball. This more closely attached airflow leads to a smaller wake and a resulting smaller low-pressure zone behind the ball, resulting in reduced drag.

When a golf ball is hit, it spins backwards, commonly referred to as "backspin." Backspin causes air pressure on the bottom of the ball to be higher than the air pressure on the top of the ball, thus creating an upward force. Dimples can intensify this effect, accounting for up to half a golf ball's lift.

Have Golf Balls Always Had Dimples?

Golf was created in the 15th century in Scotland. While millions of dollars are invested in optimizing equipment and balls today, early golfers had it much more difficult.

The MacDonald Boys Playing Golf Painting, William Mosman, 18th Century

The MacDonald Boys Playing Golf, William Mosman, 18th Century

Throughout golf's early history, golf balls were mostly smooth. It's believed that at first hard wooden golf balls were used, before being replaced with hand-sewn leather pouches that were stuffed with feathers, aptly named "featherie" golf balls.

Featherie Golf Balls

Featherie Golf Balls

Following the featherie, the gutta-percha (often referred to as a "guttie" or "gutty") was invented by Dr. Adams Paterson in 1884 as a cheaper to produce golf ball. Dried sap was molded into a sphere to create the guttie.

Over time, golfers realized that as these golf balls started to become dented from use, they performed better and more consistently than smooth balls. This led to golf ball makers purposely creating protrusions on the surface of balls to give them textured surfaces. 

Old Leather (Featherie) and Guttie Golf Balls

Dimples were first introduced in the early 1900s when it was found that indentations provided even more distance, control, and backspin than protrusions. Manufacturers soon began making golf balls with various dimpled designs that have continuously been improved upon since.

More Facts About Modern Golf Ball Design and Restrictions

The United States Golf Association (USGA) places restrictions on a golf ball's size and weight. Golf balls must have a diameter of at least 1.68 inches and cannot weigh more than 1.62 ounces. The USGA also requires golf balls and their dimples to be symmetrical, though there is no limit to the number of dimples.

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