APR 01, 2017 2:27 PM PDT

Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

What's small, white, and covered with no less than 300 dimples? A golf ball, of course! But how do dimples, which increase the surface area of the object, actually help the golf ball travel further?

The answer is all about aerodynamics. A ball that's smooth is actually subject to higher drag resistance. These are the forces that pull or suck the ball backwards, which causes the ball to go less far. By contrast, dimples on the balls disturb the airflow around the ball, leading to a smaller wake, and thus less drag. Dimples also help lift the ball by forcing the air downward. This is why dimpled balls can travel almost twice as far as a smooth ball. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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