What is the definition of A Stimpmeter? in Golf?

A Stimpmeter is a device utilized in golf to measure the speed of putting greens, which significantly affects the manner in which golfers approach their putts. Invented by Edward S. Stimpson in the 1930s, the Stimpmeter was initially a simple wooden chute designed for a golf ball to roll down onto a putting surface. Over time, it has evolved into a 36-inch long extruded aluminum bar with a V-shaped groove, featuring a small notch for placing the golf ball 30 inches from one end.

The widespread use of Stimpmeters in golf serves to maintain consistent green speeds and conditions for players. Comparing green speeds across various courses and tournaments becomes much easier when utilizing this standardized measuring tool. It is widely used in professional golf and routinely employed by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

Key Takeaways

  • A Stimpmeter measures the speed of putting greens in golf
  • Invented in the 1930s, it has become a valuable tool in maintaining green consistency
  • Widely used in professional golf to compare and standardize green speeds and conditions

What is a Stimpmeter?

A Stimpmeter is a device used in golf to measure the speed of putting greens. It was invented by Edward S. Stimpson in the 1930s to determine how easily a golf ball rolls across the surface of the green. Initially made of wood, modern Stimpmeters are typically constructed from aluminum.

The design of a Stimpmeter is relatively simple. It consists of a small metal ramp that is angled down to a flat part of a putting green. By applying a known velocity to a golf ball and measuring the distance it travels, the device can gauge the speed of the putting green in feet.

Golf course superintendents use Stimpmeters to assess the speed of the greens and maintain consistency on the course, as varying green speeds may affect gameplay. Measuring green speeds is especially crucial during major championships, ensuring fair and equal playing conditions for all golfers.

History of the Stimpmeter


The Stimpmeter was originally invented by Edward S. Stimpson in the 1930s. His device was a wooden chute through which a golf ball would roll onto a putting surface to measure green speed. This invention was inspired by Stimpson’s observation that the greens’ speeds at different golf courses were inconsistent, which impacted the players’ performance.

Industrial Adoption

In 1976, the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) first used the Stimpmeter during the U.S. Open at Atlanta. Soon after, in 1978, the USGA standardized the device and made it available to golf course superintendents. The more modern Stimpmeters are made from aluminum, increased in accuracy, and continue to be widely used in the golf industry to maintain green uniformity and speed.

Why Use a Stimpmeter?

A Stimpmeter is an essential tool in the golf industry, both for maintaining consistent playing conditions and for enhancing the overall player experience. The purpose of this device is to measure the speed of putting greens so that course managers can maintain a consistent playing surface across all holes.

One of the primary reasons for using a Stimpmeter is to ensure green speeds are similar across the entire golf course. This means that players can rely on consistent roll characteristics as they navigate from one hole to the next. Ensuring uniformity in green speeds can lead to a better overall playing experience. It also helps players build confidence in their putting skills without having to adjust to vastly different surfaces during a single round of golf.

Another important reason for using a Stimpmeter is to assist golf course superintendents with maintenance tasks. Greens management can be a complex process, with factors like grass types, mowing schedules, and watering impacting the speed of the putting surface. By obtaining an objective measurement using the Stimpmeter, groundskeepers can make informed decisions about adjustments to mowing frequency, blade height, and irrigation schedules to achieve the desired green speeds.

In tournaments and professional events, measuring the green speeds consistently using a Stimpmeter is crucial for fair competition. High-profile events often have specified green speed targets, which the host venue must adhere to. This ensures an equal playing field for all competitors, as the pace of the greens can significantly impact putting performance.

In summary, using a Stimpmeter offers various benefits for the golf community, from improving the consistency of putting greens to aiding in course management and ensuring fair play.

Reading a Stimpmeter

A Stimpmeter is a device used in golf to measure the speed of putting greens, indicating how easily a golf ball rolls across their surface. Edward Stimpson, the Massachusetts Amateur Champion, created the first Stimpmeter in the 1930s out of curiosity about the varying speeds of greens on different courses.

To read a Stimpmeter, one needs to follow a specific process. First, a flat area on the green must be selected. The golf ball is then placed on the notched section of the device, precisely 30 inches from the end, also known as the 1X notch. One end of the Stimpmeter is slowly lifted, while the other end remains resting on the green, until the golf ball rolls down the chute and travels across the green.

The distance the golf ball travels after rolling off the Stimpmeter chute is noted to determine the speed of the green. This measurement is typically taken in feet, and the average of multiple trials helps to calculate a more accurate reading.

Golf clubs usually aim for a Stimpmeter reading of 9 or 10, a speed considered to be the goldilocks zone – not too fast, not too slow. For golf competitions, Stimpmeter readings might increase to 11 or 12, aligning with the average speed on the PGA Tour. By understanding these readings, golfers and course superintendents can ascertain the conditions of a green and make adjustments accordingly. This knowledge ultimately helps golfers better adapt to the differing speeds and enhance their performance.

Stimpmeter in Professional Golf

Role in Golf Tournaments

A Stimpmeter is a device used to measure the speed of putting surfaces in the game of golf. Invented by Edward S. Stimpson in the 1930s, it involves a small metal ramp, angled down to a flat part of a putting green, which applies a known velocity to a golf ball, measuring the distance traveled in feet.

In professional golf tournaments, a Stimpmeter is utilized to maintain consistent green speeds across the golf course. It is commonly used during major events, such as the PGA Tour, to ensure fair and equitable playing conditions. Typically, green speeds at these tournaments range from 11 to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.

Impact on Player’s Strategy

The speed of the putting green significantly influences a golfer’s strategy during a tournament. Faster greens demand a delicate touch, precise ball control, and heightened focus from the player. As green speeds increase, subtle variations in slope, grain, and moisture can have a significant impact on the ball’s path, requiring golfers to carefully analyze and factor these elements into their shot decisions.

Conversely, slower greens may allow players to be more aggressive with their putts, as the ball is less likely to roll past the hole. However, slower greens can also present challenges in terms of consistency, as golfers may struggle to find the right balance between power and accuracy.

By understanding the Stimpmeter readings and adjusting their strategies accordingly, professional golfers can better navigate the challenges of varying green speeds and enhance their performance in high-stakes tournaments.

Criticism and Controversies

The Stimpmeter has been a subject of debate since its development by the USGA in 1976 and its distribution to superintendents and course officials in 1978. Despite being designed to ensure consistent green speeds across a golf course, it has been polarizing among golfers and course officials.

One main criticism of the Stimpmeter is that it has contributed to an increasing trend of overly fast green speeds. Some critics argue that these faster greens make the game more difficult, less enjoyable for average golfers, and unfairly favor players with strong putting skills. This is especially problematic for golfers at the amateur level who may not have the same experience or skill in handling such fast green speeds.

Another point of contention revolves around the reliance on the Stimpmeter for green speed measurement. Critics opine that it may lead to a uniform mindset among course officials, potentially stifling creativity and diversity in course design. The desire to achieve specific Stimpmeter readings could limit the variety in green speeds, ultimately making the game less interesting and challenging.

In conclusion, while the Stimpmeter has helped ensure consistent green speeds across courses, it has also attracted criticism for possibly contributing to an escalating trend of too-fast greens and stifling course design creativity. The ongoing debate raises questions about the balance between standardization and stimulating challenges for golfers.

Stimpmeter Alternatives

There are various alternatives to the Stimpmeter for measuring green speeds on a golf course. These devices provide different ways to gauge the speed of putting surfaces, catering to golfers’ preferences and needs.

One alternative is using stimp-reading calculators. These devices measure the distance a golf ball rolls and then calculate the average speed of the green based on those measurements. Stimp-reading calculators offer a similar function to the Stimpmeter but differ in their approach to obtaining the data needed for calculations.

Another option for assessing green speeds is utilizing devices that measure the surface’s firmness. Devices like these use sensors that penetrate the putting surface to measure its resistance, which can correlate to the speed of the green. Some golfers may find these devices provide a more in-depth analysis of green conditions, allowing them to better tailor their putting strategies.

Moreover, technology has also enabled the development of smartphone apps and software that assist golfers in determining green speeds. These applications offer a portable and easily accessible solution to assess putting surfaces. Many of these apps use the phone’s built-in sensors or require the user to input specific data to calculate green speeds.

In summary, Stimpmeter alternatives such as stimp-reading calculators, devices measuring surface firmness, and smartphone applications offer golfers various methods to gauge green speeds. Each alternative has its advantages, and choosing the most suitable option depends on the golfer’s requirements and preferences.