Dimples On Golf Ball Technology (Update)
By Kickntrue on 12/1/08
With all of the rules the USGA has about equipment there are none specific to the dimples on the golf ball. Researches at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University are using scientific data and simulations to try to improve the technology of the dimples potentially making it possible to have a ball that could greatly reduce a slice or hook (and increase distance).
But now a team of mechanical engineers has constructed a computer model of a golf ballGÇÖs surface. The model simulates a golf ball moving through air, and allows the engineers to solve equations that describe air flow at more than a billion points across the ballGÇÖs surface. Running a typical simulation requires a supercomputer GÇö the equivalent of more than 500 networked desktop computers running in parallel for more than 300 hours. The result is a vast amount of data about the local speed and pressure of the air around each dimple and around the ball.
My opinion is that this is a great, but I'm pretty sure if any advancements are made, the USGA and R & A will quickly just ban the new technology. I'm not saying that would be right or wrong- it's just what will happen.

NY TIMES Full Story

Update: Nick Bakalar, writer for the NY Times and this article sent me an email update for clarification.

Thanks for your good note about Sunday's article, and for linking to it on your site. I think I can clarify the issue--even if I'm going to have to split some hairs to do so. Here's the story, as far as I can tell--and if I have anything wrong here, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get corrected by your avid golfer-readers!

I didn't mention the issue of irregular dimples--never even thought of it, in fact--but of course there are several manufacturers of illegal balls and other illegal equipment in addition to Polara. But what I wrote about dimples I'm pretty sure is correct.

I wrote: In the list of Conforming Balls, "there are no specifications for the size or number of dimples."
I looked again (the document, published Nov. 5, 2008, is called "Conforming Golf Balls" ). It does list the number of dimples on each approved ball, but it does not specify a rule for the number or size of those dimples.

I wrote: "The officially approved Rules of Golf makes no mention of dimples."
This, too, is correct as far as I can tell. I searched the Rules of Golf again for mention of dimples, but I couldn't find any. The rules state the weight and diameter limits for balls, and demand that the ball meet the distance requirements approved by the USGA. They say nothing about dimples. But they do say this, and I think it may be the key:
"The ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball."

I wrote: The ball "must be spherically symmetrical." The requirement that the ball be spherically symmetrical covers the problem of irregular dimples. If you have irregular dimples, you don't have a spherical ball. That's probably one reason why the rules don't say anything about irregular dimples. They don't have to. By ruling that the ball must be symmetrical, they have ruled out irregular sized dimples without having to specify that.

I wrote: "There are no specifications for the size or number of dimples."
Again, I believe this is correct. I can't find any regulation about the size or number of dimples, either in the Rules of Golf or the List of Conforming Balls. I could be wrong, and if I am, I'm pretty sure your attentive readers will point me to the rule. But as I understand it, you can have any number or size of dimples you like, provided that you conform to the other rules about the size of the ball, a ball which must be symmetrical, and must meet the distance limits when fired at the required initial velocity using the officially approved apparatus.

Nick Bakalar
NY Times

[ comments ]
klangdon says:
There are USGA rules that require the dimples be symetrical on both sides. A company in the 70s started making balls that had different dimmples on differents parts of the ball that made the balls fly drastically straighter before USGA shut them down.
klangdon says:
The illegal golf balls with asymetrical dimples were called "Polara". They showed a greater than 50% reduction in slice and hook. They also won an undisclosed settlement with the USGA from sueing them for creating the rule after they went to market.
Kickntrue says:
Wonder how the NY Times miss that in their research for the story...?
mantajim says:
"Can the engineers actually find the ideal dimple pattern? Steve Ogg, a vice president at Callaway Golf in charge of golf ball research and development, is dubious, even if they are using a very good simulation program.

The computer simulation these researchers are using, he said, GÇ£is a resource, and theyGÇÖll end up learning something from it, but it would be very difficult to design a golf ball with it.GÇ¥"

Sounds just like a corporate guy. Don't want no ignorant academic stepping on our turf.
Eric Duquene says:
Actually the settlement was disclosed. 1.4 million. Quite a nice number.

They have actually just started selling these balls again from what I have found. And I think that I might try some just to see how they do.
munk24 says:
All I have to say is "cool"
[ post comment ]
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