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Improve Your Golf Game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Your odds of hitting a hole-in-one is 5,000 to one. A good player and the perfect club are a must, but now the ball is coming into play. The United States Golf Association (USGA) regulates the design of golf balls, but not a ball's dimple patterns. Researchers have found changing a ball's dimples might improve a golfer's game.

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Brett Deane has been golfing for 14 years. Like most golfers, he loves to play a good game.

"When you hit a good shot, it makes you feel good," Deane told Ivanhoe.

Many factors like swing or stance can affect a player's game, but what about the ball?

"For me, it absolutely makes a difference which kind of ball I choose," Deane said.

The USGA sets limits on golf ball size and weight, but not on a ball's dimple design. Now, computational scientists are studying dimple patterns to help make balls fly farther.


"The dimples energize the flow of air around the golf ball," Elias Balaras, Ph.D., a computational scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., told Ivanhoe.

Dimples improve the flight of a golf ball by reducing the forces that slow the ball down. Using math equations with supercomputers, researchers studied air flow around a ball with the greatest detail ever seen. They found that by changing the dimple pattern and depth, the ball will experience less drag and will fly farther.

"The most important thing is that we know exactly what the exact flow patterns are," Dr. Balaras said. "We will be able to better understand how the air flows around each individual dimple."

There are still many dimple patterns to be tested, but scientists believe they will find a better pattern. For now, the best way to improve your game is practice.

A golf ball with dimples will travel twice as far as a ball without dimples. The time it takes for supercomputers to crunch a typical computation takes about 300 hours using 500 fast processors.

The American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Elias Balaras
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
(301) 405-8268

Ivars Peterson
Mathematical Association of America,
Washington, DC 20036-1358
(800) 741-9415

Mike Breen and Annette Emerson
American Mathematical Society
Providence, RI 02904-2294
(800) 321-4267

James Riordon, Media Relations
American Physical Society
College Park, MD
(301) 209-3238

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Prior Reports
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