How Does A Golf Ball's Design Help It Travel?

By Glenn Mcanally

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A golf ball is designed to travel a certain way. Its components are put together so that the golf ball will fly far and straight with the right contact. But it is also specifically designed so that it is not too easy to hit well. That would reduce the level of skill required to excel at golf. The dimples introduced in 1908 are the main component that affects the ball's distance and trajectory. There is a scientific explanation for how the dimple design and other parts of a golf ball's construction help the ball travel.

Dimples and Drag Reduction

The dimples were incorporated into the golf ball's design to decrease drag and increase loft. The 300 to 450 dimples on a golf ball delay airflow across the ball, producing a smaller wake behind the ball. If there is a large wake behind the ball, then there is a larger low-pressure zone. The area in front of the ball is a higher-pressure zone. The pressure differential between the front and back of the ball creates more pressure against the direction the ball is supposed to go. Pressure always moves from high to low. Dimples are meant to help streamline the ball.

Dimples and Backspin

Dimples also increase the loft from the backspin that the club creates. As the ball spins, air rushes past the top faster than it does at the bottom of the ball. The top of the ball moves against the direction of air flow. A scientific principle called the Magnus Effect states that there will be a higher velocity of air rushing along the top of the ball than at the bottom. The top will be a lower-pressure zone, and thus the higher-pressure zone below will exert a force that will produce lift on the ball.

Interior Components

The construction of the core and outer layers of the golf ball will have an effect on how the ball travels. There are two-, three- and four-piece balls. The different pieces are essentially layers. With more layers, more energy is transferred to the core of the ball. If you have more energy at the core, you will have less spin and less loft.

About the Author

Glenn McAnally is a thriller novelist and life long golfer who lives in Southern California. His most recent work is the action thriller Endangered as well as a story credit for the upcoming Nintendo DS title Elite Forces: Unit 77. He is a graduate of Villanova University.