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Golf Equipment

How the Dimples on Golf Balls Make Your Shots Go Farther

Among all the different shapes and sizes of balls used in many different sports, golf balls are unique in their use of dimples. And most golfers know why the dimples are there. They give the ball lift which helps the ball travel farther.

But that’s not the full story of how dimples help your shots go as far as they do.

The Story of How Golf Balls Got Their Dimples

In the mid-1800s golf balls were made of a leather cover stuffed with chicken or goose feathers and coated with paint. Known as a ‘featherie’, they were difficult to make consistently round, which made their flight irregular. They also became heavier when wet, which reduced distance. To top it all off, they were very time consuming to make. That made them very expensive, each costing between two and five shillings, or about $10 to $20 dollars today.

In 1848, Dr. Robert Adams Paterson invented the gutta-percha ball, which became known as a ‘guttie’. Made from the sap of a sapodilla tree, gutties were easier to shape consistently, they were not affected by water and they were cheaper to make.

And then golfers made perhaps the greatest discovery in golf. They noticed that their shots travelled further when they used older gutties that were dented and nicked. It didn’t take long for ball makers to catch on and they began producing golf balls with textured surfaces.

While other major breakthroughs happened in golf ball design over the years, including improvement to the core of the ball, those initial textures were refined over time into the dimples we know today.

The Combination of Lift and Aerodynamic Drag in a Golf Ball

The dimple pattern on golf balls today is there because of the two major influences the dimples have on a ball’s flight.

The previously-mentioned lift is the result of backspin on the ball. Backspin makes the air pressure higher underneath the ball and lower over the ball to create upward force on the ball. Dimples help to optimize the effect.

But the greatest contribution dimples make to the distance of your shots comes from their reduction of aerodynamic drag.

If golf balls were smooth, air would flow around them relatively unimpeded during flight. Air flow contacts the front, leading surface of the ball and detaches from the surface as soon as it passes the farthest outside edges of the ball. That leaves a relatively large pocket of air behind the ball. A pocket of air that the ball must drag with it as it travels. That’s aerodynamic drag.

Each dimple on a golf ball creates a tiny pocket of turbulence in the air that travels around it. Instead of slowing the ball down, the turbulence pockets keep the air flow running along the surface of the ball further around the back of the ball. The result is a smaller pocket of air behind the ball and less aerodynamic drag.

How much further will your shot go using a dimpled ball versus a smooth ball? According to Steve Quintavalla, an equipment standards engineer with the USGA, a dimpled ball will travel almost twice as far as a smooth ball.So now that you know your shots are traveling twice as far, why not put them to work by booking a tee time here at Royal Ashburn!

4 Reasons to Use Golf Club Head Covers

The jury is out on the benefits of golf club head covers. You’ll get as many points of view on if, how and why to use them as the number of golfers you ask. In the end, it’s up to your personal preference.

The Benefits of Golf Club Head Covers

Whether you choose to use them constantly, regularly or just occasionally (like for travel), here are just some of the benefits that golf club head covers offer.

1. Protect Your Clubs

This is the basic reason for using head covers. When woods were actually made of wood, they were easily bruised and scratched. Head covers not only protected them from that damage, but also from the elements.
Still, even today’s metal woods can benefit from head covers. The graphite shafts on many woods are susceptible to damage that can be prevented by covers that feature longer necks for the shaft. Covers will also reduce damage to the face of your clubs; damage that can affect the shots you make.

2. Stop the Clanging

Golf is a game of etiquette and consideration for others on the course. The clanging of clubs, whether you carry your bag, use a pull cart or even a power cart, is silenced when you use head covers. Remember, every single clang you hear from uncovered clubs is potentially another bit of damage to them.

3. Club Identification

Simply put, you can choose head covers that let you quickly spot the club you need for your next shot.

4. Add a Bit of Personality

Considering the variety of materials and designs used for club head covers, many golfers put covers on their golf clubs to reflect a bit of their personality on the course.

You Don’t Need to Use Them Constantly

Like we said, the jury is still out on the benefits of head covers. Even if you are not convinced of their benefits and like to play without them, you can still protect your clubs between rounds and remove them before you head out on the course.

If you’re looking to get a set of golf club head covers to protect the investment you’ve made in your clubs, be sure to visit the Pro Shop here at Royal Ashburn Golf Club.


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