What Is the Importance of Dimples on a Golf Ball?

By Kim Kleinle

The dimple pattern on a golf ball has become an iconic symbol of the game, but the purpose of those dimples is more than cosmetic. Without dimples, a golf ball won't fly very far--a fact that golfers and golf ball makers discovered by trial and error.


Early golf balls, dating to the 16th century, had smooth surfaces. When the rubberlike gutta-percha ball replaced the feather ball in the 1840s, golfers noticed that the balls flew better after the smooth surface had been nicked from use.

First Dimples

Patterned golf ball molds replaced smooth molds in the 1870s. The molds included a gridlike mesh, a spider web design and a bramble pattern. In 1905, Englishman William Taylor patented the dimple method of golf ball marking. By 1930, the dimple pattern was the industry standard.


Dimples improve the flight of a golf ball: They reduce the drag caused by friction in the air and help the ball fly farther. Dimpled golf balls experience about half the drag of those with no dimples.

How Dimples Work

Just like an airplane, a golf ball in flight is affected by both air flow and gravity. Gravity pulls the ball toward the ground, while the aerodynamic force in the direction of motion, known as drag force, dictates the distance it travels.

Dimple Design

The United States Golf Association regulates the design of golf balls, setting standards for size and weight, but does not regulate the dimple pattern. Although round dimples are the standard, golf ball manufacturers have used a variety of other shapes, including squares, rectangles and hexagons.

About The Author

Kim Kleinle is a PGA/LPGA professional and a member of a select group certified in instruction by the Professional Golfers' Association. She began writing in 1980 after earning her degree. Her work has appeared online, in "Northeast Golfer" and in newspapers, including the "Scranton Times." Kleinle holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Point Park University, Pittsburgh.


Cristina G. joined GolfLink
Dan D. joined GolfLink
Tommy P. joined GolfLink
Julie A. joined GolfLink
Robert H. joined GolfLink

View Activity Feed

Related Articles

Article Image Titleist Players & Hybrid Stand Bags Review

Most of our GolfLink reviews are club-focused, but other equipment, lik...

Article Image TaylorMade SIM2, SIM2 Max and SIM2 Max D Drivers Review

When the TaylorMade SIM2 driver was officially announced last month...

Article Image Types of Hole in One Memorabilia

  The odds of hitting a hole-in-one for the average golfer st...

Article Image History of the U.S. Open Trophy 

  The second oldest major championship in the world is also Ame...

Article Image Chippo Golf: Guide to the Backyard Golf Game for Everyone

  Chippo is relatively new game that combines two favorite past...

View All Related Articles