A Stimpmeter is a device used to measure the speed of the greens on a golf course.
There’s nothing too technical about a Stimpmeter. It’s effectively a metal ramp that gets angled down to a flat part of the green.
How far the ball rolls across the green determines the green’s ‘Stimp rating’.
Rating less than ten are deemed to be slow to moderate paced and those in double digits are quick to fast.
How does a Stimpmeter work?
The Stimpmeter is 36 inches (91cm) in length and 1.75 inches (4.4cm) wide, with a 145˚ V-shaped groove extending along its entire length, supporting the ball at two points.
It is tapered at one end by removing metal from its underside to reduce the bounce of the ball as it rolls onto the green. It has a notch at a right angle to the length of the bar 30 inches (76cm) from the lower tapered end where the ball is placed.
The ball is pulled out of the notch by gravity when the device is slowly raised to an angle of about 20˚, rolling onto the green at a repeatable velocity of 6.00 ft/s (1.83 m/s). The distance travelled by the ball in feet is the ‘speed’ of the putting green.
Six distances – three in each of two opposite directions – should be averaged on a flat section of the putting green. The three balls in each direction must be within eight inches (20 cm) of each other for USGA validation of the test.
History of the Stimpmeter
The Stimpmeter gets its name from its inventor - Edward S. Stimpson (1904-1985). A successful golfer in his youth, Stimpson attended the 1935 US Open and believed the greens to be unfairly fast. Gene Sarazen won that year with a total score of 299 (+11).
Stimpson set about coming up with a way to prove it - and so the Stimpmeter was born. Initially, it was made of wood but in 1976, a redesigned aluminium version was produced by Frank Thomas of the USGA.
It was first used by the USGA at the 1976 US Open and was rolled out to golf courses in 1978.
In January 2013, the USGA announced a third generation of the device, based on work by Steven Quintavalla, a senior research engineer at the USGA. A second hole in this version enabled the option of a shorter run-out, which is reckoned to improve accuracy.