How Many Dimples Are On A Golf Ball?

It does not matter whether you’re an experienced golfer or new to the sport, a question that you may randomly find yourself asking is how many dimples golf balls have. Well, we have some answers for you, and there’s more to the answer than you may think – in fact, the dimple pattern can greatly affect performance.

The Quick Answer

You might be disappointed to know that there is not a single answer to this question. The number of dimples can tend to vary depending on the model and also the manufacturer. However, most golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples.

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

In case you hadn’t guessed this already, dimples do have an actual purpose. They are not just a stylistic feature for golf balls, they actually have a job to do. So, let’s expand on the science…

It’s important to note that golf balls aren’t consistently and flawlessly round – manufacturing a perfect sphere is simply too tall an order. Because of this, when a golf ball spins it would move even farther off course than you’re already used to.

For an exaggerated example, imagine a flat object being tossed through the air: the edges wobble due to the way air flows over it.

Golf balls fix this by having the dimples create more surface area on the ball, allowing for more stable flight to cancel out as much of the manufacturing inconsistency as possible (note that when you pay higher prices for golf balls, you’re often paying for lower manufacturing tolerances and therefore a more consistent product).

If you think your ball flight is unpredictable already, just imagine if the golf ball did not have dimples – you’d have very little control over your golf ball, though perhaps you’d end up over the trees instead of between them looking for a window. In short, golf would be even harder to play than it is already.

What Happens When Golf Balls Have Dimples?

When dimples get added to a golf ball this will build a tiny layer of air around the golf ball. This will significantly cut down the drag, ultimately forcing the air to flow over a larger surface area. This will result in a much smoother golf ball flight.

Additionally, golf balls will have dimples for the purpose of lifting. Approximately half of the lift that a golf ball receives is actually caused by backspin, which when combined with the increased surface area of the ball can launch your shot higher.

Essentially, if a golf ball spins backward, then the air pressure underneath it will be greater than above. This means that the ball will rise in the air. Dimples will work to magnify this effect and they will actually contribute to at least half of the total lift.

This is why many modern pros have adjusted to the high-tee, low-spin philosophy off the tee. (Let us know if you’d like to hear more about this technique).

When Were Dimples Added To Golf Balls?

Golf Ball Resting in a Hand

Like many of history’s great discoveries, dimples were invented accidentally in the mid-1800s. The most widely-used golf balls at the time were known as gutters and these were actually first made by Robert Adams Paterson and were made by using molded gutta-percha tree sap.

Golfers using these balls have found that the damaged ones had much more consistent ball flights compared to the new, smoother balls. When this discovery was made, golf ball makers started etching more raised protrusions into the golf balls before they were sold to mimic the damaged balls.

Jumping forward to the early 1900s, another inventor found that indentations in golf balls had performed much better than the golf balls with raised protrusions.

In 1905 an English manufacturer who is called William Taylor then registered for a patent for the golf ball dimple design. It did not take long for all golf balls to feature dimples that are pretty much recognizable today.

As golf ball technology advanced, so did dimple science. Nowadays, dimple patterns are much more thoroughly tested by using high-tech equipment so that you can find the perfect design for distance and also for control.

Are Dimples On Golf Balls Big?

Measuring the size of golf ball dimples is actually is done through the measurement of depth. So, the average depth of a golf ball dimple is somewhere around 0.01 inches – but it is important to mention that this can vary.

This is all to do with the circumference of the dimples and this is something that can vary from model to model. You will find that the majority of dimples are spherical in shape but they do not have to be – you might find dimples that are other shapes too, with the hexagon being the most pronounced.

The main requirement of dimples is that they need to be symmetrical in their arrangement and they must be within a specific radius and depth so that they function properly. Sometimes you’ll see different size dimples within the same ball.

The Typical Dimensions Of A Golf Ball

Let’s talk about the general expectations that a golf ball has to meet in order to do its job effectively (and be within the rules of the USGA and R&A). Let’s start with how much a golf ball should weigh.

Golf ball weights have varied over the sport’s history, but as with much of sport, this has been regulated to ensure a level playing field. A golf ball currently needs to have a mass that is no more than 1.62 ounces or 45.93 grams.

When we are thinking about how big a golf ball is, this is also has varied pretty widely over the years, but now – you guessed it – golf balls are required to have a consistent size. The minimum diameter of a golf ball cannot be less than 1.68 inches or 42.67 millimeters.


Golf balls have a variety of different dimple counts and patterns, playing a key part in a golf ball doing its job properly.

Without dimples, your golf game would be far wilder than it is today, with your golf ball flying off unpredictably and probably affecting your affection for the sport. Luckily dimples are there to help you achieve what you can with that perfect swing of yours.

Ryan O'Neal

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