Have you ever wondered why golf balls are the size they are? Is there a reason for it? Are they all the same? Well, we are here to unravel the mysteries surrounding golf ball sizes and dimensions, if there are any!
Join me as we run through everything you need to know about golf balls and how their sizing and dimensions came about in the game.
What Is The Diameter Of A Golf Ball?
The diameter of a golf ball, as set by the USGA in America and the RA in England and Scotland is 42.67 mm, 4.267 cm, or 1.68 inches. Any golf ball found to be smaller than this diameter is considered illegal and will result in disqualification from any open tournament conditions around the world.
The reason this size has been chosen by the USGA and RA is that when combined with the allowed weight of the golf ball which we’ll talk about next, it provides the ideal and weight and diameter for maximum distance on your shots.
Golf balls are allowed to be larger in diameter than 1.68 inches and if you go a measure one of yours right now, you might find it tops this size. But, most golf balls made today to get as close as possible to a diameter of 1.68 inches.
How much does a golf ball weigh?
According to the USGA and RA rules, a golf ball cannot be heavier than 1.62 ounces or 45.93 grams, so a golf ball must be bang on this weight or under to be legally allowed in all open golf tournaments. This uniformity across all golf balls ensures that all the golfers are playing with the same size ball.
What is the maximum weight of a golf ball?
I have already answered this question above but the key thing to be aware of here is maximum weight. Golf balls can legally weigh anything under the maximum weight of 1.62 ounces and generally, manufacturers make them as close to this as possible.
Don’t go buying lighter golf balls, as they will affect your distance and mess with the perfect weight-to-diameter combination that ensures extra yardage on each shot.
What is the volume of a golf ball?
To work out the volume of a golf ball you need to take the radius of an average golf ball, 0.83 inches, and do some maths using PI to find the volume which is 2.482 cubic inches or 40.67 cm cubed. This might sound like information that isn’t that useful but when we consider hole volume later, it’ll make more sense.
Has the weight and size of a golf ball always been the same?
No, it certainly has not and it’s only quite recently that the ball sizes have been uniformed. There used to be a British, or European, golf ball size and an American golf ball size which led to confrontations when it came to international tournaments.
The British golf ball size was a diameter of 1.62 inches as set by the RA while the American golf ball size was a diameter of 1.68 inches as set by the USGA. Both parties believed their dimensions were the best and neither of them wanted to change to match the others, which caused a problem.
It took years of debates to finally get both the USGA and RA to agree on a set diameter for a golf ball and they eventually agreed in 1990 to use the American size of 1.68 inches.
How big is a golf hole?
Now that we know everything about golf ball sizes, weights, and dimensions, let’s look at the size of the hole you’re meant to put one into.
The official size of a golf hole as set by the USGA is 4.25 inches in diameter and this was deemed the correct size for two reasons.
If you were to make the hole smaller than 4.25 inches, the chances of anyone bar a player on the pro tour sinking a putt would be minimal. If the golf hole was larger than 4.25 inches, putting would be far too easy and we couldn’t have that now, could we.
A golf hole of 4.25 inches is just large enough to make putting possible but small enough to make putting a challenge and thus adding a bit of competitiveness to the game.
The size of 4.25 inches was actually set by the British RA golf regulators way back in 1891. Before this, you could find golf holes measuring in excess of 6 inches, which made putting every easy.
There have been conversations about widening golf holes to make it a bit easier and perhaps a tad more enjoyable for those of us who only get to play a few times a month. Jack Nicklaus, a pro golfer, has actually taken matters into his own hands and expanded his golf holes to eight inches in diameter for the open member tournaments at his Muirfield Village Golf Club.
But, for professionals and most golf courses around the world, the set size of 4.25-inch diameter golf is not likely to change.
Golf ball to golf hole ratio – what are your chances?
Considering a golf ball is 1.68 inches in diameter and a golf hole is 4.25 inches in diameter, what is the ball to cup ratio? It’s easy maths, to be honest, and you’ll find the answer to be that you can fit 2.52 golf balls in a golf hole, so there is definitely enough space to sink a ball but picking a ball larger than 1.68 inches will put you at a disadvantage.
All golf courses today are designed with the same size golf holes. They use a professional cutter that leaves a perfect-sized hole with a clean edge and they then add a plastic cup to it to ensure to surrounding soil or sand changes the dimensions.
Why does a golf ball have dimples?
All golf balls have dimples on them and these are a necessary part of the design when it comes to the lift of a golf ball’s trajectory and its aerodynamics.
Dimples reduce drag on the golf ball in the air and this drag reduction aids the distance your golf ball can travel.
The number of dimples your golf ball has defines how much lift it will have. Generally speaking, the more dimples on a golf ball the higher it will fly in the air. You might think that you should rush out and find a golf ball with as many dimples as possible but they would also hold you back.
The higher a golf ball flies in the air, the shorter the distance it will travel and therefore it is key to find a golf ball with the ideal number of dimples for the best balance between lift and distance.
Dimples are constantly changing and since they are not regulated in any way by the USGA or RA, it’s a place where improvements and changes can be made to create golf balls that fly further than ever.
How many dimples does a golf ball have?
There is no set amount of dimples and golf balls can or can not have as dimples are not regulated at all by both the RA and USGA, so you can have a ball with none or loads.. but that is the right amount?
On average a golf ball can have anywhere between 250-500 dimples which leaves quite a big range to choose from. More dimples equal more lift but too much lift equals not enough distance so what is the happy medium for a golf ball?
The answer is 336 dimples. I haven’t just done some mad maths, golf ball manufactures have known this for years, and most commonly put 336 dimples on their golf balls to maximize height and distance with every stroke.
Are all golf balls the same size?
No, manufacturers still make golf balls larger and smaller than the specifications we discussed above, so when shopping for golf balls it’s worth checking the packet to see if they conform to the USGA and RA golf balls’ size and weight standards.
What does the compression of a golf ball mean?
When you hit a golf ball it gets compressed in the core between your clubface and the ball cover, and different types of compression golf balls will achieve different distances based on swing speed.
If you think about it, everything in the world can be broken with enough force, but the amount of force just below the breaking point is transferring the maximum amount of energy into the object. Now, if you apply this to golf balls, compression, and swing speed you end up with a calculation that will give you the greatest distances on your shots.
If you pick a golf ball with a compression that matches your swing speed perfectly, then you get the maximum amount of energy transfer and thus your maximum distance.
Low Compression Golf Balls
Low compression golf balls are made up of multiple layers between the core and the cover which gives them a soft feel. The cores are generally much softer and therefore break with less force than harder cores. This means they are perfect for people with low swing speeds, as their maximum energy for maximum distance is low to match.
Medium Compression Golf Balls
Medium compression golf balls are usually made with 3 layers and have a medium-hard core. This means that match medium swing speeds for maximum distance.
High Compression Golf Balls
High compression golf balls have harder cores that compress a lot slower and thus can absorb a lot more energy to tame a faster swing speed and get the maximum distance possible. If you have a fast swing, then a high compression ball is what you need.
What golf ball is right for beginners?
If you’re a beginner golfer the worst mistake you can make is picking the wrong ball. Don’t be tempted to go for the more performance golf ball options as they will harm your game in the end.
Beginner golf balls are designed to make the game a bit easier to start off with and will give you overall more confidence, and help you enjoy the game a lot more.
Beginner balls are low compression balls that have a soft feel and are designed for low swing speeds of 85 mph or less. You’ll get a reasonable distance and far more accurate strokes than a higher compression golf ball.
From a size perspective, choose a regular-sized ball of 1.68 inches to start with and if you’re still struggling to find the sweet spot, you can choose a large golf ball to make it easier, like Callaway’s Supersoft Manga.
What golf ball is right for intermediates?
If you have been playing golf for a while you have most likely got your swing speed up while keeping enough control to shoot the ball accurately into the distance. If you then think about the compression of golf balls, as we discussed earlier, then you’re most likely to need a medium compression ball for your medium swing speed.
It’s a good idea to have your swing speed measured first before selecting a golf ball to progress to and most golf clubs have the facilities to tell you. If your swing is 85 to 105 mph, then you have an average swing speed and a medium compression ball is best for you.
If your swing speed is above 105 mph, you might want to consider a high compression ball but be warned, these balls are hard to control when it comes to accuracy and your game might be better with a medium compression ball that gives you good distance and accuracy rather than just good distance.
The reason for this is that high compression golf balls absorb so much energy so if your swing is off and ends up in a slice or a hook, your error is going to be multiplied a hell of a lot more, resulting in shots that can go way out of the direction you were intending.
My advice is to play a round with each type and see what your scorecard says at the end, and pick a ball based on that.
You should now know everything you need to know about golf ball sizes and dimensions and be able to pick the right golf ball for you. I hope you enjoyed the article and found it useful, and thanks very much for reading it.