High-order computational fluid dynamics simulations of a spinning golf ball


This paper presents the first high-order computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of static and spinning golf balls at realistic flow conditions. The present results are shown to capture the complex fluid dynamics inside the dimples which lead to drag reduction versus a smooth sphere, and compare well to previous experimental and computational studies. The high-order flux reconstruction method has been paired with the artificial boundary overset method to enable simplified mesh generation and grid motion. The compressible Navier–Stokes equations are modeled using a scale-resolving large eddy simulation (LES) approach with no sub-grid models. The codes implementing these methods have been implemented for NVIDIA graphical processing units (GPUs), enabling large speedups over traditional computer hardware. The new method allows for the simulation of golf balls, and other objects at moderate Reynolds numbers, to be simulated in a matter of days on large computing clusters.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Army Aviation Development Directorate (AMRDEC) for providing funding for this research under the oversight of Roger Strawn, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for their support under Grant FA9550-14-1-0186 under the oversight of Jean-Luc Cambier, and Margot Gerritsen for access to the XStream GPU computing cluster, which is supported by the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program (ACI-1429830). We would also like to thank Dr. Peter Eiseman for providing academic licensing to the GridPro meshing software and assisting with the creation of several golf ball grids. Last, we would like to thank Dr. Jay Sitaraman for his expertise and help on overset connectivity methods, and his help in ensuring our numerical methods were robust enough for broad applicability.

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Correspondence to Jacob Crabill.

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Crabill, J., Witherden, F. & Jameson, A. High-order computational fluid dynamics simulations of a spinning golf ball. Sports Eng 22, 9 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12283-019-0300-y

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  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Large eddy simulation
  • Finite element methods
  • Golf ball
  • Sports aerodynamics