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Physics of Golf: Why Dimples on the Ball and the Weird Downward Swing?

Updated on December 6, 2019
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Mr. Ocean is an evil genius who is not actually evil. He’s a good Dad who supports his family working from home, which is actually genius!

Physics, my Dear Watson

It's not Elementary, it's mostly counter-intuitive. But like a good Sherlock Holmes mystery, once you know how it all works, you can improve your ability. Understanding the swing help you improve and appreciate the game like never before.

Counter-intuitive but True! BACKSPIN it

Backspin is the key. The slope of your club, yes even your driver will generate the backspin. To make it work, you have to "pinch" the ball by swinging down on it. To add extra spin you must ACCELERATE through the ball, and what happens after the moment of contact doesn't matter. So the big beaver-skin of turf you dig up and toss after contact really doesn't matter. The follow through technically doesn't matter either, but if you are doing things right you'll master that as well.

The dimples of the ball are essential. Discovered by accidental wear, the notches proved to be invaluable.
The dimples of the ball are essential. Discovered by accidental wear, the notches proved to be invaluable.

Aerodynamics of Flight - Avoiding Vorticies

Just like a feathered bird, an uneven but light object cuts through the air with the greatest of ease. The dimples of the golf ball provide turbulence, which prevents vortexes from forming behind the ball. Vortexes are basically low-pressure zones that will suck the ball in the opposite direction of flight, thus slowing it down. The dimples cause a rough chaos that prevents such a pressure drop.

Think of a wire hanging in the wind. The wind seems to push it up up up, until finally it swings forward again. What actually happens is a vortex forms behind the wire, and lifts the wire higher until it peels off and releases it to gravity. The smooth surface of the wire forms another vortex and the patter repeats.

Don't let it be a drag, man.

Vortex = PULL. Understood?
Vortex = PULL. Understood? | Source
Not that kind of golf. Good coefficient of drag though.
Not that kind of golf. Good coefficient of drag though.

Cars and Such

I have oft wondered why Cars and such don’t use the dimple tech to avoid the drag that occurs from tugging a larger vortex. God’s design of animal’s surface skin in nature is a perfect guide to the design principles involved. It’s easily provable in wind tunnel tests. So what is up? Come on Engineers of the World, get with it!

it’s like sunlight, our skin is designed for sunlight and it is essential to get UVB exposure. Why do modern humans have such a hard time understanding this? It’s quite easy to get the gist of the principles involved once you see it from this perspective; begin with nature, not with technological heritage. The designs of man and the effects of this technological age can create a false sense of reality. Yet smart people may use the technologies we have to find a unique experience of balance and superiorit.

© 2012 Douglas Ocean


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