How and why golf balls have dimples.
The story behind golf ball indentations is an interesting one. Golfers, as well as those who have no interest in the sport, will likely be amused to learn how the unique shape of the balls developed. The small indentations are actually called dimples, and someone didn't just randomly decide to put them there. The dimples serve an important purpose because they allow golfers to have more control over exactly where their balls go when they strike them.
The earliest golf balls were made of a smooth leather outer covering and were stuffed full of bird feathers. People began to make golf balls out of rubber sometime during the eighteenth-century. Players were then able to hit them farther than ever, but the evolution of the golf ball wasn't finished.
Golf ball dimples were created almost by accident in the early 1900s after players noticed that they could hit balls longer distances once they had been dented, nicked, or damaged. Manufacturers eventually took this idea and ran with it by making golf balls in unusual shapes. They experimented with different designs until they could find an ideal shape that would improve players' control over where and how far the balls would travel. William Taylor, a man from England, put a lot of work into coming up with the ideal design; in 1908, he ended up creating and patenting something that looked like a modern golf ball.
A century later, almost all of the golf balls on the market have dimples, and they are also covered and sealed with a laminate to reduce drag and to protect the surfaces of the balls. The exact number of dimples varies by manufacturer, country, and the specific type of ball, but most golf balls have approximately three to four hundred small indentations. This allows them to travel three to four times as far as balls that have a smooth outer surface.
Prior to having a scientific explanation of this phenomenon, people didn't understand why worn and damaged golf balls always seemed to outperform new ones. The scientific explanation came when physicists and experts gained interest in the subject. Golf ball dimples work because they reduce the amount of drag on balls as they are traveling through the air; this makes them fly further and allows the player to have more control. The dimples increase the amount of turbulence that is in the air surrounding the ball, and even though the golf ball flies slower it spins faster as it flies. Because of the fast spinning action, the air surrounding the ball is moving more that the air underneath of it. This leads to a difference in air pressure around the golf ball as it travels, which essentially helps to lift it up. That is why you should never underestimate the power of golf ball dimples!
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