Dimples improve the flight of a golf ball. Their size, depth and specific arrangement affect its aerodynamics. They are to a golf ball what tyres are to a racing car. They add to its performance. But do they add to better putting?
The distance achieved by the modern ball is a concern to golf's governing bodies. To rein in its development, they have placed certain restrictions on its design parameters.
However, there is no limitation on the number of dimples, their pattern, or the percentage of surface area they can cover. It is one part of a golf ball over which manufacturers have freedom to move.
By modifying the number of layers and make-up of materials beneath the outer cover, and matching the pattern of indentations on the ball's surface, manufacturers can optimize the resulting trajectory for both distance and control.
You should always choose a ball that is best for your swing speed and your requirements for distance and spin. This is because all balls that are balanced roll the same way on the green. The composition of the cover material may give a different feel to the putt, but the dimples play no part in improving accuracy.
The Titleist Pro V1 has 392 dimples while the Pro V1x has 332. Both have a Urethane Elastomer cover. Does the Pro V1 hold its line any better on the green than the Pro V1x?
Callaway's Hex design consists of a ball covered in hexagonal (rather than round) dimples. This increases its surface coverage to 100%, up from the 70 to 80% of the conventional ball.
Callaway claims that this eliminates flat spots on the ball's surface to achieve an optimal balance of aerodynamic characteristics, resulting in more distance. It makes no claim that its ball putts better.
The scientific improvements in ball design give you the opportunity to find the perfect ball that gives you the ball flight you want to achieve. However, the different concave configurations on your golf ball will do nothing to improve your putting.
If a non-smooth cover is good news for the long game, is there any downside to it in putting? With an uneven surface to a golf ball, it is possible that your putterface could contact the raised edge of a fret and marginally misdirect your ball.
If golf was only a putting contest, the best ball for putting would probably be a smooth ball such as the Caesar Featherie.
Technological advances in materials and cover pattern now allow manufacturers to custom-fit a golf ball for your particular game. However, in putting you want your ball to hug the surface, not take off in flight.
The dimple design of your golf ball, fascinating and intricate as it is, is a blind alley when it comes to holing more putts.