Dimpled Golf Balls Were Invented In Leicester

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Take a look at any golf ball today and the one constant you’ll notice immediately is that every ball has dimples.

These dimples are one of the most important designs to have happened to the sport; Allowing the ball to travel longer distances.

William Taylor designed & manufactured the first dimpled golf ball in Leicester. Providing the biggest technological discovery in the history of the Golf.

Golf ball design.

It doesn’t matter who the manufacturer is, every golf ball used today still has that same symmetrical dimple design.

But this wasn’t always the case. Up until the turn of the last century, the modern golf ball was essentially a smooth one-piece natural rubberised cored ball. These were very similar in the construction of today’s golf ball–but without the dimples.

Everything changed in 1905, when golf ball manufacturer and engineer William Taylor abandoned the smooth golf ball design. He created a new type of golf ball with dimples. 1

W. Taylor’s US Patent – 1906

So why do golf balls with nicks and pits outperform smooth golf balls?

Well it seems that when smooth golf balls fly through he air, aerodynamic drag slows them down because of a pocket of low pressure air that accumulates during flight.

The smoother the ball, the greater this pocket of low pressure air becomes; the greater the pocket of low pressure air that builds up during flight, the greater the drag; the greater the drag, the less distance the ball flies.

By applying dimples to the golf ball surface (or nicks and pits as these early golfers discovered), this pressure differential goes down, and the drag force is reduced.

The dimples create turbulence in the air surrounding the golf ball, which, in turn, forces the air to clasp the golf ball more closely. By doing so, the air trails the warp created by the golf ball towards the back instead of flowing past it. This results in a smaller wake and lesser drag. 2

William Taylor.

W. Taylor had realised that golf players were trying to make irregularities on their balls, noticing that used balls were going further than new ones.

Hence he decided to make systematic tests to determine what surface formation would give the best flight. He then developed a pattern consisting of regularly spaced indentations over the entire surface. He later developed tools to help producing such balls in series.

William Taylor was born in Hackney on 11th June 1865 but moved to Leicester in 1885.

William Taylor

Mr. Taylor and his brother were both very interested in science and engineering from a young age. Within two years after moving to Leicester they had founded their own engineering and manufacturing company; T. S. & W. Taylor. William was only 21 years old. The factory was based at 57 Sparkenhoe Street, Leicester.

William was elected into the Royal Society in 1935. He unfortunately died in 1937. 3

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  1. William Taylor Original Patent
  2. Patrick Lefler explains why dimpled golf balls travel further
  3. The Royal Society
Thomas Kirkup is an engineer in the Royal Navy. Born and raised in Leicester, Thomas is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.
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