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The Anatomy Of A Golf Ball

Aug 17, 2007
For something that's so diminutive, you'll never know that a golf ball contains the deeper science of aerodynamics. Or do you think that the dimples (the pockmark impressions on golf ball) are just there by chance?

The anatomy of a golf ball is indeed composed of several sciences, one of them is aerodynamics and another is ballistics. The dimple designs are there to provide lift.

The Aerodynamics of Golf Balls

In aerodynamics, path of flight are explained with four different factors: the lift opposed by the weight, the thrust opposed by the drag. The power of the swing provides the thrust and the angle of the flight is supplied by the angle of impact on the golf ball. Naturally the wider the angle the steeper the ball climbs. As soon as the ball is shot from the tee, the power of the swing provides its thrust, and it elevates corresponding to the angle of the club. Naturally, the higher the loft the golf face has the higher the elevation it achieves. This is evident on sand traps where irons with wide wedges are used to clear the buggers.

As soon as the golf ball achieves its flight, the air will immediately impede on the thrust. Thus what we call drag. It kills the distance and in the past, golf balls have shorter travel distance. That is because misinformed science in the past have been rationalizing that smoother golf balls do also have smoother travel in the air. But the resulting effect was a flop, or rather a plop. The balls fall shorter. Golf was then a game of strength.

By fluke, deformed golf balls were played and it was found to have truer flight than the smooth ones. Now golf ball with protrusions were being manufactured. Many styles were being tested, until the dimpled type was found out to have the truest flight. Now a game of golf is a game of finesse. As of now, dimples came in round impressions but recent studies have shown that hexagonal impressions provide better lift than the round ones.

The Ballistics of Golf Balls

With lift being tackled by modern science, now came the science of ballistics, the science of maximum range or known as trajectory. Trajectory is involved with several factors, one of them is the dimples and another is the core. The solid core of the golf ball affects primarily its spin rate (control), compression (feel), and velocity (distance). Cores come in two classes, the solid core designed to amplify power and the liquid core that generally has lesser power (liquid absorbs the shock) but affords awesome control like tricky backspin and green holding.
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