Golf balls used to be smooth.
Golfers soon began to notice that balls with imperfections such as cuts and dents seemed to fly farther. This phenomenon was eventually studied, likely by an aerodynamicist, and it was discovered that these imperfections act as “turbulators” for the ball. These turbulators, as their name suggests, create turbulence in the layer of air just outside the ball.
This layer of turbulence can help to reduce drag and make the golf ball fly further. Golf ball manufacturers soon got wind of this information (excuse the pun), and this is why contemporary golf balls are speckled with dimples. The symmetrical dimples are a formalized way of creating turbulence all around the ball.