Instant Golf® Special
Ball Dimples and Optimal Flight
Robert Cotter (About
Golf Ball Engineer
of Golf Swing Instruction, Instant Golf®
the final round of The Barclays tournament
in NJ and familiar names are at the top of the leaderboard.
6 time winner Matt Kuchar and Gary
hot of his win at the Reno-Tahoe Open, share
the lead heading into the final round.
Matt or Gary take the title, or another golfer
surges to victory, it's interesting to see different brands
of golf balls cutting into Titleist's dominance on Tour.
Sure, the Pro V1/V1x is easily the number #1 ball series on Tour
but the other manufacturers continue to grab a bigger
piece of the golf ball pie.
Gary plays the new Callaway HEX Chrome+ (hexagonal shaped dimples) and Matt plays the Bridgestone
Mickelson and Tiger are Callaway and
Nike players respectively, and Justin Rose won the 2013 US
Open with the new TaylorMade "Lethal" 5 piece Tour ball.
balls all behave differently off the club faces of each player.
It can take a while for pros (and recreational golfers)
to adjust to the nuances of new ball models. Golf ball
trajectory (due to spin changes) and descent angle in
particular can give golfers fits as they get to know the specific
of new design balls.
The Barclays tournament trophy (plus a likely lead in the FedEx
Cup standings) will go to the golfer who controls
the spin of his chosen ball on Sunday.
And the dimples on the winner's Tour ball will have worked to
great advantage as reflected in a final round score in the 60's.
a Golf Ball Engineer, I field scores of questions from
golfers all over the world. I
get a lot of inquires about dimples (in fact another this week).
believe that since dimples are the only functional ball
component that is visible to a golfer, they cause
the most curiosity. If golf balls were clear, the questions
would probably shift more to the interior components!
the story with the dimples on a golf ball?
all those funky dimple patterns about function, or is it all “just
Let’s take a look:
since 150 years ago when golfers found that the then modern gutta
percha balls flew longer and straighter when their smooth
surfaces were roughened up and nicked, the fascination with dimples
Today, we know that
dimples serve to reduce the aerodynamic drag acting on the surface
of the golf ball, ultimately resulting in
longer distance. Combined with the backspin imparted by the golf
club, today’s ball flight characteristics are nothing short
the years, the patterns have changed and evolved into some very
dynamic looking designs; multi sized dimples on the same
ball, dimples in dimples, hex shaped dimples, and deep and
shallow dimples to name a few.
changes have been aided by all the improvements in the ball flight/trajectory
and distance measuring technology.
One of the biggest advances
was multi sized dimples on the same ball. Hence, smaller dimples
could be “crammed in” between
the larger dimples.
dimple coverage is desired on golf balls because it increases
flight stability and gives the engineers
a greater ability to refine finished ball flight characteristics.
But there is a trade
off with maximum coverage as the “Fret” area,
the ball surface between the dimples, becomes very thin. If it
is too thin, the frets will shear at impact and the ball will scuff.
Take a look at the Fret area below:
you bounce a ball of a cart path and the ball incurs damage,
this fret area is the area that gets sheared.
used to be a big problem with some off the softer "balata" covered
which were phased out about 15 years ago. One good bounce off
a cart path and a balata ball could be permanently out of
fantastic cover material technology of the modern
balls has reduced this type of damage.
why all the different dimple patterns and is it just marketing?
but the marketing comes after the performance.
In many respects, dimple technology mirrors the design and selection
of the tires for a race car.
car designers build the chassis and suspension, add a custom
engine, and top it off with an aerodynamic
they select the appropriate tires that will grab the road and
maximize the performance of the all the other high tech
parts of the car. Different tire designs will produce different
With a golf ball, the
core is the engine. The mantle layers (if present) add performance.
Together with the cover, you have a golf
ball “without the tires” until you add the dimples.
dimples, golf ball designers can tweak
the final performance of the golf ball. They will find the right
dimple pattern that results in the optimal
trajectory and distance, for a specific ball construction.
instance, let's say a new ball design is almost finished
and the product has great initial
velocity, nice spin characteristics, and a soft cover
for great touch around the greens.
the ball "attacks" the ground too steeply at the end
of a driver flight, so there is little roll and shorter overall
problem, the aerodynamics engineer can refine the pattern, depth,
and/or sizes of the dimples to flatten out that ground angle
of attack so that golf ball can bound down the fairway a
bit more for optimal driver distance.
the end, you have that high performance golf ball sitting on
the tee just waiting for the green flag to start the race.
like in a race car, the driver gets things going!
Golf Balls are still a mystery and Ball Selection is
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a 41! My best of the year"
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Note: (this gentleman is 72 years young)
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