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Are The Dimples On The Golf Ball Costing You Strokes?

I remember Dave Pelz teaching a course about dimples on golf balls and how it effects the balls roll, especially with putts less than 6 feet and I thought it’s worthy of sharing.


Understanding how dimples affect ball roll is a hidden secret that top professionals utilize that can and will save you strokes on the green.


Psychologically, a missed 3 footer can take a heavy toll on your round since this is a must make zone for all handicappers.


Yet, unbeknownst to many golfers, it’s not always their stroke or read that may have caused the miss, it may in fact be due to the dimple effect that your putter face caused during your putting stroke.


Now I’m not saying that a lousy stroke, or perhaps speed wasn’t the root cause of the missed putt. I’m really just pointing out that a well struck, on-line putt can miss too and that is my focus today.


Today, I’m going to zero in on the dimple effect that happens when the putter face makes contact when it strikes the edge of a dimple on the golf ball.


When it comes to dimples and direction, there are two ways dimples can affect how and where the ball rolls.


First thing you need to be aware of is when the putter face makes contact on the edge of a dimple on the golf ball rather than the smooth surface of the ball, the ball typically will start off line due to the face of the putter striking the edge of a dimple, causing the ball to rotate either left or right.


The effect of this is most noticeable on short parts less than 6 feet and even more so on putts at 3 feet, especially on a fast green.


Lastly, as a side note, players who use a harder ball will see this affect their short putts even more so than a player using a softer ball. So keep that in mind the next time you see a deal at Walmart on cheap hard balls.


Second issue, balls that are rolling slowly can and will wobble along the edges of the dimples as they slow down and come to a stop. This is made even more noticeable on faster greens.


How far offline can the putt roll on a short 3 or 4 foot putt? Good question!


On a 3 to 4 foot putt, when the ball is struck on the corner of a dimple, you can expect the ball to roll off line anywhere from 1/16 of an inch to as much as 7/8 of an inch on a fast green or even more than 6 inches on a downhill putt as long as 20 feet.


The next question you might have is if its an issue for short putts, why not for longer putts?


The answer is quite simple, as the velocity of the putter increases (longer putts require more speed/velocity), the cover of the ball compresses more at impact, thus eliminating the chance of making contact on a single dimples edge. So don't sweat the long putts!


One other issue is worth noting here, since we are now aware of the dimple effect. As I mentioned above as it pertains to the wobble effect. Not all golf balls are perfectly balanced.


So one way you can help yourself and keep the ball rolling smoothly is to find the seem.

I have two sets of pictures below. One is the Callaway ball with the putter alignment aid marked by the factory and the other is a Titleist Pro V1. It too has a small putting line imprinted in it.






What I want you to look closely at is both alignment aids would have you rolling contrary to the seem or the best roll of the ball. This means because of the dimple alignment, as the ball slows down, the wobble affect will absolutely come into play if you are using the alignment aid pre-made on the ball.


So how can you take advantage of this information to reduce the risk of hitting a great putt only to miss your intended line? Well, here is the solution.


Take your ball and locate the seem line of dimples (this is found by locating the spherical line set by two or more dimple rows that go in the same directions and are constant (no odd number smaller dimples are in the path). This is where you want to draw your putting line on the ball.


Now, I want you to circle the largest dimple free area along that seem line. This is the target to strike your ball with the putter face.


A side note: There is such a thing called the balance line. This is actually better than using the balls manufactured seem line. I mentioned earlier that not all balls are perfectly balanced. You can purchase what is called a balance line machine. This tool spins the ball in a solution of heavy water. Or you can float your ball in heavy water which causes the ball to float heavy side down. Simply take a permanent marker submerge it and mark the top of the ball. Pretty much a huge pain in the ass, but it will save you strokes and is actually much better than using the seem line.


I tend to be a little lazy and perhaps cheap when it comes to using the balance machine or heavy water method and simply take advantage of the obvious seem and circle the largest dimple free area. By doing this you eliminate dimple effect and give yourself the best chance of a true roll to the cup.


Have fun out there and go get you some more birdies!

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