It has been a puzzling question in fluid mechanics for quite some time as to why golf balls are designed with dimples. In the 1800’s it was discovered that a ball with scuffs in it flew through the air more consistently than a smooth golf ball.6 Manufacturers started incorporating patterns to golf balls to try and find which gave a more stable and reliable flight pattern. In the 1900’s it was determined that the strategic placement of indentations maximizes lift while minimizing drag, thus leading to the modern day design of a golf ball.
Drag and Lift
In order to determine why golf balls have dimples, it is important to first look at the forces in the system as a whole. When a golfer hits a ball with a club, it soars through …show more content…
A body moving freely through the air will generally have two main types of resultant force acting on it: drag and lift. Drag is the force anti-parallel to the object’s trajectory through the fluid. Lift, also known as downforce is the force perpendicular to the direction of travel for an object moving through a fluid.4 The free body diagram shown in Fig. 1, demonstrates how the air resistance of a golf ball flying through the air is broken down into individual drag and lift components. For this system, the primary cause of lift is the backspin placed on the ball by the initial strike from the club.1 The backspin is able to speed the air passing over the top of the ball while simultaneously slowing down the air bellow. These effects are magnified when the ball possesses dimples because the indents provide an increased surface area for the ball to make contact with the fluid through which it …show more content…
This increase in the degree that the Magnus force acts on the ball compared to the degree of ball rotation is helpful for golfers, allowing them to “shape” their shots more accurately and to a greater by purposefully imparting spin on the ball during impact with the club in order to curve the ball around trees and other obstacles on the course.
As well as being an interesting application of fluid mechanics and Bernoulli’s Theorem, the Magnus effect is also incredibly useful to skilled golfers, allowing them to modify the trajectory of their ball flight for any given situation.
It has always been a puzzling question in Fluid Mechanics as to why a golf ball 's design incorporates dimples, but through many years of investigation it is determined that the dimples have a huge effect on drag, lift, interaction with air flow and the Magnus effect. Thanks to the increased area provided by the dimples, the ball is able to fly further and more accurately than one without