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Have you ever wondered why golf balls have dimples instead of a smooth surface? We don’t blame you—even experienced golfers question this after years of overlooking it.

Dimples are to golf balls what aglets are to shoelaces. You don’t give them much thought until someone points them out, and then you can’t rest until you know their purpose.

Here, we cover why golf balls have dimples and how to choose the best design for your playing style.


Why do golf balls have dimples?

Golf balls may appear deceptively simple, but their exterior is carefully designed for a reason beyond aesthetics.

The dimples on golf balls are the unsung heroes of the sport, playing a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory, distance, and accuracy of each shot. Here’s why they’re essential to your game:

  • increased lift—as air flows over the dimpled surface, it clings to the ball longer, which generates lift and helps the ball stay in the air longer, resulting in a higher trajectory and increased distance
  • reduced drag—dimples create a turbulent boundary layer of air around the ball as it flies, which delays the separation of air and allows the ball to slice through the air with less resistance
  • improved stability—dimples contribute to the ball’s stability during flight by preventing it from wobbling or veering off course, making it more accurate and predictable in the trajectory
  • spin control—dimples influence the amount of backspin or topspin a golfer can impart on the ball, which is crucial for shaping shots, and different dimple patterns can lead to varying levels of spin

As you can see, the dimples on a golf ball transform it from a smooth sphere into a carefully engineered aerodynamic tool.

They help golfers achieve greater distance, accuracy, and control by manipulating the forces acting on the ball as it travels through the air.

So, next time you tee up, remember that those dimples are the secret sauce behind every impressive drive and precise approach shot.


How were the dimples on golf balls created?

Golf balls didn’t always have dimples. Their invention was down to sheer coincidence during the mid-1800s.

Robert Adams Paterson invented the gutta-percha ball in 1848, which was crafted using dried Malaysian sapodilla tree sap with a rubber feel.

The balls had a smooth surface, but once golfers had damaged them, they discovered they performed more consistently.

This prompted inventors to begin making indentations in new balls, which led to them having a much more powerful and reliable ball flight, and the design has been adapted and mastered throughout modern history.

Advanced technology is now used to thoroughly design and test dimple patterns to optimise them for many purposes. We talk more about finding the ideal golf ball dimple pattern below.


How many dimples should a golf ball have?

why do golf balls have dimples image

Currently, the ideal range for the number of dimples on a golf ball is between 300-500. Anything outside this range isn’t considered optimal for performance, which is why most popular manufacturers adhere to it.  

Two of the most popular golf balls, Srixon AD333 and Titleist Pro V1, have less than 400 dimples—the former has 338, while the latter has 388. Both have tetrahedral dimples.

It’s difficult to state a clear difference between the two, as each ball has a different outcome depending on the golfer, their technique, and other elements of its design, but many say the Pro V1 gives slightly more distance.

Many factors, such as the depth of the dimples and the inner mantle design of the ball, contribute to its overall performance, and only manufacturers with specialist knowledge and testing equipment can properly track the effects of slight changes in design.

The Titleist Pro V1’s tetrahedral dimple design had over 60 different versions tested before the manufacturer landed on a final model—that’s how much thought goes into the design process.

Choosing a ball with a similar number of dimples to the ones the professionals use is always good practice, alongside checking out reviews for which is best for your swing.

You can also get fitted for golf balls as you would your clubs, which could help you get the most out of your equipment.


How do I know which golf ball dimple pattern is best?

Dimple patterns are specific to each golf ball’s design but usually feature a mixture of shallow and deeper dents for optimal performance. They are usually round and have tetrahedral-shaped indents.

Some popular designs still differ, however—Callaway Solaire balls are a hit with golfers and feature hexagonal dimples rather than rounded ones. They supposedly provide better low-speed lift, increased stability, and reduced drag. 

Typically, the deeper the dimples are, the lower the ball flight, and the shallower they are, the higher it is—having a mixture of the two creates a well-balanced and consistent trajectory and distance.

Without specialist equipment and knowledge, it can be difficult to choose a golf ball dimple pattern for your game.

So, you might find it useful to leave this to the manufacturers and instead look at the golf balls’ characteristics to know whether they suit your playing style.

For example, one ball may provide a huge amount of spin while another could be designed to reduce it.

Dimple patterns certainly affect these things, but the science involved in explaining how they affect each aspect is complicated. But if you want to learn more about the technical aspects, check out this video.

As with the number of dimples on a golf ball, it’s best to stick to those with proven performance, whether they’re a market favourite or used by the pros.

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How do you get your additional golf fix when you’re not playing? Magazines, books, live action on the television… all of the above, perhaps?

For those who just can’t get enough of the game, YouTube is a bottomless pit of highlights, equipment reviews, interviews and playing tips.

However, where are the best places to go?

We look at 10 of the best golf YouTube channels worth subscribing to.


The 10 best golf YouTube channels


1. Rick Shiels


Shiels is the No.1 golf YouTuber. The only reason the PGA pro started up a YouTube channel was that he had written to every golf magazine asking whether he could feature in them, and of the few replies he received, the answer was a collective no.

In May 2012, he posted a 47-second video of his swing from above in a bid to try and get a bit more noticed. Fast-forward to now, and he has well over 2.5 million subscribers. His content is premium, and there are various fascinating collaborations—Shiels’ true skill is that he’s relatable, and his challenges make for very easy viewing.


2. Mark Crossfield


Crossfield is the original golf YouTuber and remains a brilliant and insightful follow. The Devon PGA pro has covered everything over the years; his forthright equipment reviews offered something very different in his early days, and his course vlogs are a brilliant watch in terms of getting to know a course and some of the big names he’s playing with.

Like Shiels, he’s self-deprecating and amusing, which is a big part of his appeal, and he knows the golf swing inside out, so he’s highly authentic.


3. No Laying Up


No Laying Up is the game’s leading podcast, and they also have a fantastic YouTube channel that offers something even more different still.

They visit some incredible courses and put together travel videos on the ‘Tourist Sauce’ series that are an absolute must-watch. While some golf YouTube channels could be dismissed as mere clickbait, this one is notably authentic, and the No Laying Up team are brilliant storytellers with access to some of the world’s best. They started 2023 with a fourball match against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.


4. Good Good


Good Good are ‘6 dudes, 1 golf channel’. They are a relevantly recent phenomenon compared to the likes of Shiels and Crossfield, but they already have a huge following due to the unique nature of their content.

They’ve gained popularity for their entertaining and funny golf videos, challenges and course vlogs. The channel focuses on making golf more fun and approachable for a wider audience, and they’ve even collaborated with Shiels and Bryson DeChambeau—which tells you plenty about their popularity. The videos often feature a mix of skilled golf shots and amusing moments.

If you like modern, fun golf, this is a great channel to follow.


5. Golf with Aimee


Cho was born in South Korea before moving to New Zealand at the age of six, and her popular golf tips videos often reach well over a million views.

The golf YouTube channel market is dominated by men, so Cho offers something different, though her tips are generally directed at the same common faults in the game. Cho is a former touring golf pro and is currently an LPGA Class A teaching professional. She also does challenges with some of the leading female players.


6. Me and My Golf


Me And My Golf are a rare double act in PGA professionals Piers Ward and Andy Proudman. They offer excellent and straightforward golf instructions and also coach tour player Aaron Rai, who threatened to make the 2023 Ryder Cup team.

They cover all aspects of coaching and are well known for dressing the same. They often have access to a number of the leading TaylorMade players, and so have collaborated with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa—and they even offer some training aids to help you with your game.


7. Chris Ryan


Ryan is the Director of Coaching at the HIT Golf Academy at the Forest of Arden and a successful golf YouTuber. The PGA professional worked at The Belfry for several years and is one of Today’s Golfer’s Top 50 Coaches.

If you’re looking for tips that are most relevant to the club golfer, Ryan is an excellent starting point. He breaks down the tips into easy-to-follow videos with a written explanation also provided so you can easily navigate your way to what you’re looking for.


8. Danny Maude


With well over a million subscribers, Maude has a phenomenal following but still might not be as well-known as some of his YouTube peers.

He provides a collection of well-thought-out videos to help you improve your game, so he’s well worth a follow.


9. Peter Finch


Finch first attracted many golfers’ attention with his collaborative videos with Shiels. Based in the North West, it’s been a meteoric rise for the PGA coach and, like Shiels, he’s part of Golf Monthly’s Top 50 UK coaches.

Finch joined YouTube in 2011, and while most of his most popular videos remain alongside Shiels, he has since branched out into more varied content. Some of his most captivating videos are his attempts to qualify for The Open.


10. Paige Spiranac


Spiranac is the queen of golf influencers. She turned pro in 2016 and made the cut on a few events on the Ladies European Tour.

She covers all aspects of the game on her golf channel, including instructions, course vlogs, fitness advice and equipment reviews.

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The article below was written by Hannah Holden of National Club Golfer.

Scratch golf is seen as something only achievable for seriously skilled golfers, who make no mistakes out on the course, but is that really the case?

Lots of us have aspirations to play scratch golf. But what does it actually take to get your handicap down to zero, and does it require almost the near-perfect golf we image? I took a look at the Shot Scope stats to find out what you need to do to become a scratch golfer.

According to the latest stats posted by the R&A, there are 66.6 million golfers in the world. Less than 1% of them have a handicap that is scratch or better. Most golfers believe this 1% of golfers have secret skills, but actually, when we delve into the Shot Scope data, some of the stats are mind-boggling and can definitely give you more perspective on how to play like a scratch golfer and that you certainly don’t need the perfect golf swing to achieve this milestone.


‘Scratch golfers make tonnes of birdies’

A big misconception about lower-handicap golfers is that they make more birdies than the average club golfer. When we look at the stats, this isn’t really the case at all. In fact, the average scratch golfer only makes 2.67 birdies a round, which certainly isn’t the birdie fest most of us imagine.

A 15 handicap makes 0.4 birdies a round, so in the fifteen-shot handicap difference, only two of those shots are birdie-related. The real key to shooting lower scores is reducing mistakes and big scores on your card.


‘Scratch golfers never miss the green’

Hitting more greens in regulations is one of the biggest indicators of shooting lower scores. Scratch golfers using Shot Scope hit 62% of greens in regulation. That works out at eleven greens a round. They are still missing seven greens out of eighteen!

In fact, if a scratch golfer had 50 – 70 yards for their approach into every green on the course, they would still miss four greens in regulation.

Can we just let that stat sink in for a second?

From 50 – 70 yards, scratch golfers only hit 78% of greens, from the rough that drops down the 71%. The 1% of best club golfers don’t always hit the green from 70 yards. Maybe that can give you some perspective next time you miss the green from 150 yards and think you’ve hit the worst shot of your life.

From 90 – 110 yards, scratch golfers hit 71% of greens. That means with a gap or sand wedge in hand, they still miss the green one in three times! From 130 – 150 yards, they hit 61% of greens, and from 170 – 190 yards, just 41% of greens. Essentially, once a scratch golfer has a 5-iron or above in their hands, they are more likely to miss the green than hit it.


‘Scratch golfers knock the flags out’

Are scratch golfers hitting it next to the pin every time? Absolutely not. From 150 yards, the average proximity for a scratch golfer is 41.58 feet. If they are hitting from the rough, this jumps to 51.18 feet, and from a fairway bunker, it skyrockets to 113 feet. Only 18% of shots hit by players with zero handicaps from 150 yards end up inside 15 feet.


‘Scratch golfers hole loads of putts’

How often do you get frustrated when you miss a 10-foot putt? It seems almost inconceivable that you didn’t hole such an ‘easy’ putt. When putting from 6 to 12 feet scratch, golfers miss more putts than they hole. Even a tour pro only holes 68.3% of 10-foot putts, so when you miss from the same distance, it isn’t the bad shot you think it is.

Obviously, getting down to a scratch handicap is hard, and only a small percentage of golfers do it, but looking at the stats should show you it doesn’t require perfect golf, and with lots of practice, it is perfectly achievable. So get yourself down to the practice ground.


Scratch golfer FAQs


What is a scratch golfer?

A scratch player is someone who has a handicap between 0.4 and +0. This is your base handicap and not your course handicap.

The R&A, defines a scratch golfer as “a player with a handicap index of 0.0”. According to the USGA, a scratch golfer is defined as “a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.”


Why scratch?

The origin of the word ‘scratch’ comes from a line that was scratched in the ground to denote the start line of a running race. To make the race fairer and more interesting, the fastest runners would start on the scratch line; while the slower ones were given an advantage and could start in front of the scratch. It was an effective form of a handicapping system, and at the end of the race, the result should be very close.

The common phrase ‘starting from scratch’ meaning you start with nothing comes from this. The scratch golfer has nothing while the weak golfers have the advantage of being able to subtract their handicap from their score at the end of the round.

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The article below was written by Hannah Holden of National Club Golfer.

We often hear the phrase ‘never up, never in’ but is the most effective strategy always to hit your putts past the hole?

We all want to know how to be a better putter, so what is the most effective way to reduce the amount of putts you have out on the golf course? We took a look at the Shot Scope data to find out.


What does good putting look like?

A big part of learning how to putt better is knowing what good putting actually looks like. A scratch golfer single putts 31% of the time, and two putts 61% of the time. They are gaining shots on the field by having very few three-putts. For the majority of golfers, working on your distance control and reducing three-putts would help their putting more than having a few more single putts.

Although we would love to hole every putt we look at, sometimes picking the right miss, or leaving the ball in the right place for the next shot is a better strategy than getting every putt past the hole. This will leave you shorter putts for your second and helps take out those dreaded three putts.

Here is a good drill to try. Go 30-40ft from the hole and drop five balls down. Hit each ball, making sure every ball finishes past the hole. Once you have done this repeat the exercise again but just try to hit each putt as near to the hole as possible. Which set of golf balls finish closer to the hole and give you the best chance of two putting?

So what is the optimal distance we should be hitting each putt past the hole, or is there even one? There are a few variables to keep in mind here.


Average putt length holed

If we dive into the Shot Scope stats, the average length of a putt holed for a 15-handicap golfer is 4 feet. That means, as a mid-handicapper, if you leave the ball more than 4 feet from the hole, you are more likely to miss than hole the putt.

Suddenly ramming your putt 6 feet past to give your first putt ‘a look’ doesn’t seem like such a good idea, does it? It also shows you how crucial it is to practice your short putts so you can try to increase the length of your average putt holed.


How to putt better: Work on capture speed

Getting the ball to finish past the hole requires the ball to be travelling at a set speed as it passes the hole.

Dave Pelz famously told golfers the optimal distance to hit the ball past the hole was 17 inches which is just under 1.5 feet.

The reason for this is a golf ball needs 0.066 seconds to fall the 0.84 inches to the bottom of the cup. If a putt is rolling slowly over the edge of the hole it will be over the cup long enough to drop. Add some more speed, and the ball will lip out or roll straight over the hole instead.

By hitting the ball 1.5 feet past the hole, your startline needs to be twice as accurate to hole the putt. Now you wouldn’t optionally play with a hole half the size, so why are you making it smaller by rolling the ball with too much speed?

If you are hitting your putt five feet past the hole, the effective hole size is 0.5 inches. That is less than a third of the diameter of a golf ball and makes it almost impossible to hole a putt.

If you want to improve your putting, you need to need to be getting the ball to be rolling as slowly as possible when it hits the hole. This in effect, makes the hole as big as possible, making the ball more likely to drop in. It also means you should have an easy tap-in and not have to worry about the putt coming back.

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The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

We’ve all had it. We get onto a green, we’re addressing for a shot, or we’ve lifted and replaced, and the ball starts moving.

It’s easy to get into a panic, and it’s easy for your playing partners to get the wrong idea. But when a ball or ball-marker accidentally moves on the putting green, there are two specific sections of Rule 13.1d that can come into play.

You’ll need to know both, so let’s get stuck in…


Golf rules when a ball accidentally moves on the green

When you’ve accidentally caused the ball to move on the putting green

Think Dustin Johnson at the US Open back in 2016 and you’ll get the clearest example of this in action. DJ actually got penalised that day but a local rule was soon issued that then found its way into the Rules of Golf revamp in 2019.

Rule 13.1d (1) now says there is no penalty if you, your opponent in match play, or another player in stroke play accidentally moves your ball or ball-marker on the green.

You simply replace the ball on its original spot – estimate if you don’t know where that is – or place a ball-marker to mark that original spot.

There is an exception that a ball must be played as it lies when a ball begins to move during a backswing, or stroke, and the stroke is made.  


If the ball has been moved by natural forces

We’re talking about wind, water, gravity or anything else that’s natural which intervenes and shifts your golf ball.

When this happens, where you will play from next depends on whether you’d already lifted and replaced the ball on the green. If you had, you must replace it on the spot from which it moved. If you don’t know where that spot was, you take your best guess.

There isn’t an option to play it from where it lies. If you do so, or if you forget to put the ball back and make a stroke, you will have played from a wrong place and will incur the general penalty (two shots or loss of hole in match play) for a breach of Rule 13.1d (2).

If the ball had not been lifted and replaced then it’s very easy. Just play it from its new spot.


You can read all of Steve’s Rules of Golf explained columns here.

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The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

I’m totally lost on a golf course without yardage markers. Most of the time I’ve forgotten to charge up my GPS, I’ve left a laser at home, and at least I’ve got a guide on how far it is to the pin. How did we survive before technology?

But sometimes these yardage markers, or those big poles that show the way when you’ve got a tee shot or an approach that’s a bit blind, can get in the way.

So what do you do then? Can you shift them? Do you have to put up with it? What about if they’re not interfering with your swing or stance but are on the line of your shot?

I’ve had a couple of emails asking about what relief options are available in these circumstances, so let’s get stuck in…


Relief from movable obstructions and immovable obstructions

A lot of the time, if you’ve got a marker post causing you trouble it will simply be a movable obstruction.

You’ll find it in a socket or a sleeve in the ground, or you can just take it out without damaging the obstruction or the course.

Rule 15.2a (1) says you can remove movable obstructions anywhere either on or off the course and you “may do so in any way”.

If your ball moves while you’re shifting such an obstruction, you won’t get a penalty and you just replace the ball on its original spot.

Sometimes, though, clubs can deem their marker posts to be immovable obstructions. Now we’re dealing with abnormal course conditions – covered in Rule 16.1.

You can’t move them – the clue is in the name – but you can still get free relief if your ball touches them, or they physically interfere with your “area of intended stance or intended swing”.

If your ball is on the green, you can also have relief if an abnormal course condition on or off the putting surface intervenes on the line of play.

But “if the abnormal course condition is close enough to distract the player but does not meet any of these requirements, there is no interference under this rule”.

So if your club committee defines marker posts as immovable obstructions, and one is right in your line but interference doesn’t exist, then suck it up because you can neither shift it out of the way nor take a free drop.

I not a big fan of marker posts as immovable obstructions, because it just causes an unnecessary issue on the occasions where one does end up in the way, but clubs do it for all sorts of reasons and ultimately it’s up to them.

As always, make sure you look at the Local Rules to work out how your club is handling marker posts before you start picking them up and possibly risking a penalty.