The stimpmeter is a device used to measure the speed of a golf green by determining how far a golf ball rolls on a flat section of the putting surface. It was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Jr. in the 1930s and is now widely used in golf course management.
To use the stimpmeter, a golf ball is placed at a designated starting point on the green and is rolled in the direction of the hole using the stimpmeter. The device has a notch at the end that helps to release the ball at a consistent angle and speed. The distance the ball travels is then measured, and the result is the green speed rating or “stimp rating.”
A stimp rating of 8 would mean that a golf ball would roll eight feet after being struck with a standard force on a flat section of the putting surface. The higher the stimp rating, the faster the green is considered to be. For example, a stimp rating of 12 is very fast and difficult to putt on, while a rating of 6 would be relatively slow.
Golf course superintendents use the stimpmeter to help them maintain consistent green speeds throughout a course. They can use it to determine how much to mow or roll the greens, or to adjust the speed by watering or adding sand to the putting surface. Golfers can also use the stimpmeter to get a feel for the speed of the greens before they start their round.
How the Stimpmeter Works:
The stimpmeter is a simple but effective device that works by measuring the distance a golf ball travels on a flat section of the green. It consists of a metal bar with a notch at one end that holds the ball, and a raised lip at the other end that acts as a ramp. The ball is placed in the notch and rolled down the ramp with a consistent force, and the distance it travels is measured to determine the stimp rating.
The Importance of Consistent Green Speed:
Maintaining consistent green speeds is important for golf course superintendents because it affects the playability of the course. If the greens are too slow, putts will not roll true and players may have difficulty judging the speed and break of their putts. If the greens are too fast, putts may roll too far past the hole, making it difficult to control the distance of the putt. By using the stimpmeter to measure green speeds, superintendents can adjust the maintenance practices to achieve consistent speeds throughout the course.
The Role of the Stimpmeter in Professional Golf:
The stimpmeter is also used in professional golf to measure the speed of greens on tournament courses. The PGA Tour uses the stimpmeter to ensure that green speeds are consistent across all tournament courses, and to monitor any changes in speed that may affect play. Golfers on the professional tour also use the stimpmeter to get a feel for the speed of the greens before they begin their round.
Controversy Surrounding the Stimpmeter:
Despite its widespread use, the stimpmeter has been the subject of some controversy in the golf world. Some critics argue that green speeds have become too fast and that the use of the stimpmeter has contributed to this trend. They claim that faster greens make the game more difficult and less enjoyable for the average golfer, and that they unfairly favor players with strong putting skills.
Factors Affecting Green Speed
|Grass type||High||+ / –||Mowing||Different grass types have different speeds|
|Mowing height||High||+ / –||Mowing||Lower height results in faster greens|
|Moisture content||High||–||Irrigation||Higher moisture slows down greens|
|Rolling||Medium||+||Rolling||Smooths surface, increasing speed|
|Green firmness||Medium||+ / –||Irrigation||Softer greens can slow down the ball|
Grass Types for Golf Greens
|Grass Type||Climate||Ball Speed||Maintenance||Durability|
Ideal Green Speeds by Event
|Event Level||Ideal Stimp (ft)||Example|
|Casual play||7.5 – 9.0||Weekend golf with friends|
|Club competition||9.0 – 10.5||Club championship|
|Regional tournament||10.5 – 12.0||State amateur championship|
|Professional event||11.5 – 13.5||PGA Tour event|
|Major championship||12.5 – 14.5||U.S. Open|
Putting Green Maintenance Practices
|Practice||Frequency||Purpose||Effect on Speed|
|Mowing||Daily||Cut grass||Increases speed|
|Verticutting||Monthly||Thatch removal||Increases speed|
|Topdressing||Monthly||Smooth surface||Increases speed|
|Aerification||1-2/year||Improve drainage||Temporary decrease|
|Rolling||As needed||Smooth surface||Increases speed|
Common Stimpmeter Readings by Green Type
|Green Type||Slow (ft)||Moderate (ft)||Fast (ft)||Very Fast (ft)|
In conclusion, the stimpmeter is an important tool for measuring green speed in golf. By providing a standardized method for measuring green speed, it helps to ensure that golf courses are maintained at a consistent level and that players can enjoy a fair and challenging game. While there is some controversy surrounding the use of the stimpmeter, it remains an essential tool for golf course superintendents, professional golfers, and avid players alike.