What is a Stimpmeter in Golf?

What is a Stimpmeter in Golf?

Have you seen a golf course curator kneeling on the greens, rolling balls off of a metal stick, and taking notes? That’s the Stimpmeter. From a player’s perspective, you don’t really need one, unless you have a small putting green in your backyard. In that case, a Stimpmeter is a must-have for you.

In this post, we’re going to learn what a Stimpmeter is, how it works, and how you can use it for the only application it’s designed to perform.

What is a Stimpmeter?

By definition, a Stimpmeter is an “accurate device manufactured by the USGA that allows one to make a standard measurement of, and place a numerical figure on, the speed of a putting green. It does so by measuring the ball roll distance”.

In simpler words, a Stimpmeter is used to give you an idea of how fast or slow a green is. This data is necessary for greenkeepers so that all the greens across the course are uniform. If not, it can throw off the putting of even professional players!

Mr. Edward S. Stimpson is credited as the inventor of the device, way back in the early 1930s. At that time, golf courses in the USA were suffering from inconsistency across putting greens. Even the same greens had the varying pace of the ball at times! If you play regularly, you may already know how frustrating it can be.

Mr. Stimpson created a wooden device that can objectively measure the ball’s role on the green surface, giving you the magic number of green speed.

How Does a Stimpmeter Work?

Visually, the Stimpmeter looks like an aluminum stick with a V-shaped groove along its length, on both sides. The early wooden design was later modified and improved by the United States Golf Association.

The aluminum bar is 36 inches or 3 feet long. 6 inches below the top, there is a precisely milled notch. This is the primary notch for holding the ball and it’s known as the 1X ball-release notch. In regular conditions, greenkeepers are always encouraged to use this notch for their readings.

On the opposite side of the tool, you’ll see another notch. But this time, it’s kind of in the middle. To be precise, it’s 14 inches from the tapered end. Speaking of the tapered end, this is the part that touches the green when you take the readings. The job of the taper is to minimize overspin and bounce when the ball lands on the soil.

To measure the green speed, you simply take the ball, put it on the notch, and gradually raise the bar till the ball releases.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, hold your horses. There are more variables at play here.

How to Use the Stimpmeter?

After that elaborate and somewhat visual discussion of the Stimpmeter, you must be wondering how to use it. Well, let’s get the ingredients first.

  • Stimpmeter
  • 3 tees
  • 3 balls
  • Measurement tape
  • Data sheet/paper to take notes

You start by finding a flat spot on the green. This is very important because using this technique on a slope will cause incorrect readings.

Place a tee on the green. This is your reference point for running the first set of tests. Put the tapered end of the Stimpmeter right beside the tee. Place a ball in the 1X notch. Do it carefully because damaging the notch or the taper will cause errors in the reading.

Raise the Stimpmeter gradually until the ball releases due to gravity. You need to hold that position until the ball rolls off to the green. Do all 3 balls following this exact method.

If the green is uniform, all balls should be within 8 inches or less when they stop. If the distances of the balls are inconsistent, the green may need work. Or, your testing may not have been right.

Measure the distance all 3 balls traveled and get the average. That’s where you put the 2nd tee in the ground and repeat the same steps again.

From here on, you can either conclude the test by dividing the distances by 2. Or, continue one more round and divide the distances by 3. The more data you consider, the more accurate your results should get.

Overall that’s your quick summary to what is a golf stimpmeter and how it works.

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