Physics and Chemistry

Energy, Motion, and Force

Why do golf balls have dimples?

The dimples minimize the drag (a force that makes a body lose energy as it moves through a fluid or gas), allowing the ball to travel farther than a smooth ball would travel. The air, as it passes over a dimpled ball, tends to cling to the ball longer, reducing the eddies or wake effects that drain the ball’s energy. A dimpled ball can travel up to 300 yards (275 meters), but a smooth ball only goes 70 yards (65 meters). A ball can have 300 to 500 dimples that can be 0.01 inch (0.25 millimeter) deep. Another effect to get distance is to give the ball a backspin. With a backspin there is less air pressure on the top of the ball, so the ball stays aloft longer (much like an airplane).


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