Video Series

Video Transcript

Now as golfers we often know that the game of golf is all about small margins and the tiniest difference making a big difference on the golf course to our scorecard and ultimately to our happiness. Now the smallest thing on the golf course is the ball and the smallest thing on the ball is a dimple. So it stands to reason that dimple must be quite important to our lives in the game of golf. Now it really is because when people first made these golf balls back in St. Andrews, back in the day as it was, and they made them as smooth as possible. It just stands to reason. You would expect you know we’ll polish it. We’ll clean it. We’ll send it down as a brand new box all looking really nice and shiny.

And the golfers are putting the ball on the tee peg, nice and shiny on the first tee in front of the old course, in front of the old course hotel there St. Andrews in front of the club house. And they would hit the ball straight down there and it would go out, through the air. And it would curve to the left and it would curve to the right, and it would dip out of the sky and it would fall at about seventy yards. And nobody could really get the ball to go up in the air and fly nicely. And then as the golfer played round the course it hit the ball into a sand bunker and it hit the ball out of the sand bunker. And it would top it and it would scuff it and it hit it towards the sheep and off the beach.

And it would come down the eighteenth hole and the ball would have a chink here and a scuff here and it would be scratched there. And it would tee off on the eighteenth and it would hit it. It goes straight in the air, fly really nicely, fly about a 130-150 yards down there. Much straighter than when he played up the first hole. And it didn't take long for golfers to work out that actually a smooth golf ball was a bad golf ball. And the scuffed golf ball worked better. And it's because the scuffs on the golf ball disturbed the air flow a little bit and they stopped the airflow dragging the ball to one side of another.

So soon golfers were asking the golf ball manufacturers to cut the golf ball deliberately. And the manufacturer would take a knife and he would score around the golf ball in crosses and squares like a chess board. Then manufactures would put dimples on the golf balls, but the first dimples poked outwards like a raspberry. So all the seeds of raspberries would outwards, golf balls had dimples that poked outwards. But when you hit a ball with a putter particularly it would bounce off sideways in different random angles. It flew straight, but it would bounce off at different angles on a putter.

So then they decided to put the dimples inwards and then we have the golf balls that we have today. Now the manufacturers use CAD programs and scientific programs to work out the best design for the dimple on a golf ball. Generally most golf balls have between three hundred and four hundred fifty different dimples, and different sizes and different depths and different locations on the golf ball. And all that's designed so that when you hit the ball up into the air, the back spin that you naturally put on the ball as it's flying is gripping the air in a certain way to try and keep it up in the air.

We can actually see a ball rising through the air as it flies off almost like an airplane taking off, as the backspin grips in the air when it flies upwards. But if you ever see a golf ball that's been through the mill a bit, being worn out and has no dimples left on it, give it a hit and you'll remind yourself of those golfers that played at St. Andrews with their brand new shiny golf balls that didn't fly more than a hundred yards in the air.