SOLIDWORKS: What Makes a Golf Ball?

With summer in full swing, many of us enjoy spending our time out on the links hitting that little white ball around…myself included! On the rare occasion when I’m not shanking my shots into the woods, I sometimes stop and think about the engineering behind the equipment that I’m using. Take the golf ball for example…constantly companies are advertising that their ball flies farther, feels softer, etc., etc. Is there really that much to these little white balls, or are these companies trying to sell something? The answer to this question is YES….of course companies want you to buy their product, but there is some pretty neat engineering that goes into your golf ball as well. The answer behind what makes a golf ball is found on the inside and outside of the ball. Let’s take a look at the aspects of a golf ball and see what we can find out!


This all started when a colleague of mine made the innocent suggestion that I create the dimples on a golf ball for my next blog. Well me not having the forethought to think through the consequences of this, I agreed! After hours of contemplating how I was going to do this, I finally came up with an idea that seemed to work. Many of the golf balls out there use an octahedral dimple design. This meant that I could break the ball up into 8th’s and only create the dimples on a small section and then mirror the rest. The main challenge I found was dealing with the change in orientation of every dimple.  It was easy enough to create one dimple with a cut revolve but when you tried to pattern that cut, it would not change the orientation to be normal to the outside surface. To get around this, I used a base revolve that intersected the golf ball by the amount needed to create the dimple.  In order for this approach to work for all the dimples, I needed a construction surface that split the center of each revolve.

One of the other aspects to the octahedral dimple design is the pattern of the dimples on the small section. The pattern is a set of nested triangles similar to the way that you would rack pool balls. By offsetting a series of planes from the sides and bottom of my golf ball segment, I could use the Split Line command to split my construction surface into these triangular sections. Once I split my construction surface, I could use the edges along with a Curve Driven Pattern to pattern the bodies of my revolve feature.  The patterned bodies could then be “subtracted” out of the main golf ball using Combine.  This method could then be used for every subsequent “triangle” within the segment.

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 Once all the dimples have been patterned, a series of Mirror commands can be used to create the entire golf ball. I’m sure there are many ways of going about this, but this is just one that I came up with. If you are interested in seeing the actual file, feel free to download it here: Download Golf Ball.

Golf Ball

By: Chris Olson, Applications Engineer

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