4/14/2009

Curious Josh: Why Golf Balls Have Dimples...

Curious about the other posts in this series? Check them out here...

I was never that much into golf. That is, until I got one of the Tiger Woods games for xbox. Then I fell headfirst into it. I even went to the Buick Invitational. But nothing compares with the majesty of watching the Masters.

And as I was watching this past weekend, I had two thoughts. One was how bummed I was for Kenny Perry. But the other was, I wonder why golf balls have dimples...

So I did some digging.

Originally, golf balls were smooth; but golfers noticed that older balls that were beat up with nicks, bumps and slices in the cover seemed to fly farther. Golfers, being golfers, naturally gravitate toward anything that gives them an advantage on the golf course, so old, beat-up balls became standard issue.

At some point, an aerodynamicist must have looked at this problem and realized that the nicks and cuts were acting as "turbulators" -- they induce turbulence in the layer of air next to the ball (the "boundary layer"). In some situations, a turbulent boundary layer reduces drag...

...The dimples on a golf ball are simply a formal, symmetrical way of creating the same turbulence in the boundary layer that nicks and cuts do.


So the dimples actually help reduce drag and improve aerodynamics. Sweet. You can check out the rest of the article that i got this from here...

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