To the average golfer, the dimples on a golf ball go relatively unnoticed. I mean, there are a thousand other things to think about. Posture, stance, grip, alignment, where's the wind coming from and that tucked pin. Do you really want to think about the dimples, too?
The good news is, you don't have to. Because we think about them for you, and with a tremendous amount of veracity.
The last time TaylorMade implemented a sweeping change to its dimple pattern was 2012, but since then we have created countless variations and tested thousands, if not millions, of golf shots. That rigorous testing process led us to the all-new Tour Flight Dimple Pattern, the key that unlocks added performance in the 2021 TP5/TP5x golf balls.
This article will take you inside our development process to explain our journey to this revolutionary new design.
In search of the greatest possible outcomes for distance, aerodynamics and ball speed, we lean on multiple levels of scientific studies, research and testing. When we say, "multiple levels," we really mean whether ball speed is 60 mph or 180 mph, or whether it’s spinning at 1,500 RPMs or 15,000, we need the ball to perform optimally in each scenario.
The entire process requires intense dedication and acute attention to detail. To start developing the Tour Flight Dimple Pattern, engineers kicked off the theoretical exploration of a single dimple. They relied on computer modeling, simulations, data analysis and advanced mathematics - we’re talking the kind of stuff Dewey made the decimal system for.
From these studies, they gathered the optimal design would reduce drag during the initial phase, where the ball is ascending, and maintain lift during the descent (helping the ball stay in the air longer and travel farther distances).
Obtaining theoretical optimization became the challenge, and to achieve it engineers had to overcome the hurdle of decoupling dimple volume from dimple depth. So, what does that mean? The task was to change depth (how deep the dimple is) without changing volume (the overall area of the dimple).
To bring this idea to life, engineers relied on new age CNC milling equipment that reaches historically unobtainable levels of precision. With those capabilities in place, our team manufactured the Tour Flight Dimple Pattern molds at our Carlsbad headquarters and tested each and every mold to ensure the highest level of production quality. In turn, those molds created the prototypes that ultimately became the new TP5/TP5x golf balls in your bag.
With protos in hand, the real fun of testing could begin. Engineers use underwater dynamic liquid flow tests to measure the potential for aerodynamics. They recorded the way materials flowed around the golf ball – whether that's water, or in the case of your golf shots, air.
They then moved to the ARL (Aerodynamics Research Lab), where we house a golf ball cannon – you read that right, golf ball cannon (it's as cool as it sounds) – to test a variety of different shot conditions. In this controlled environment, engineers manipulate variables such as temperature and humidity to measure performance in different circumstances.
The cannon fires at variable velocities and spin rates as data is captured measuring aerodynamic properties. It can fire up to 225 mph with a virtually infinite number of different launch conditions. In all, a single prototype design is fired hundreds of times to achieve a complete aerodynamic profile.
Taking a holistic approach, the ARL is not our single qualifier. We utilize extensive player testing, at every level of the game, to ensure that the dimple pattern delivers optimal performance for all player types. From average golfers to the game’s elite, we take our prototypes from the lab to course to confirm that our studies match real-world performance.
We even go the extra step of verifying performance with robot testing. Robots and cannons? Yeah, our engineers get all the cool toys.
Over the course of dozens of different prototypes and thousands of cannon blasts, the all-new Tour Flight Dimple Pattern was born. Each individual dimple has a shallower overall profile with steeper walls compared to the prior gen but maintains the same volume. This outcome reaches the theoretical optimization our engineers sought to achieved. Reduced drag on the ascent and added lift during descent, overall leading to better distance.
Relying on a never-done mentality, our team has again pushed the boundaries of speed and distance with the introduction of the Tour Flight Dimple Pattern.