Ask the Experts; April 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 1 Page(s)
Dimples reduce drag and improve lift, so golf balls fly farther. A smooth golf ball hit by a professional would travel only about half as far as one with dimples.
Engineers and scientists in the golf industry study the impact between a golf club and a ball to determine the so-called launch conditions. The impact, which typically lasts just 1D2,000 of a second, establishes the ball's velocity, launch angle and spin rate. Gravity and aerodynamics then take over the ball's trajectory (no matter how much the golfer hopes or curses). As a result, aerodynamic optimization - achieved through dimple-pattern design - is critical.