Last Saturday I was watching the PGA on the Golf Channel. I was half paying attention, to be honest. Just relaxing watching. Then the commentators started talking about the green on the 18th hole.

The green was slick, and the commentators started talking about the stimpmeter reading for the hole. I had never heard of it, which got me thinking,

What is a Stimpmeter – How does it work?

According to the USGA, the stimpmeter is “a simple, accurate device that allows one to make standard measurement of, and place a numerical figure on, the speed of a putting green.” The stimpmeter does this by measuring the distance that a ball rolls.

Follow along to find out everything you need to know about this incredible invention! The stimpmeter is like many great tools, genius in its simplicity.

image of a person using stimpmeter - AEC Info

Dimensions of a stimpmeter

It’s a 36-inch long aluminum bar shaped in a v-wedge on both sides. Each side has a notch to place the golf ball and measure the roll distance, and therefore the speed of the green.

The USGA introduced the stimpmeter in 1978, and the design has pretty much stayed the same ever since. 

The ball rolls down the stimpmeter’s ramp and strikes a metal plate at the bottom.

The stimpmeter notch on the top side is placed 30 inches from the end, while the other side has the notch placed 14 inches from end.

The ball will rest in the notch until the stimpmeter is lifted 20 degrees from the putting green.

This ensures that the speed of the golf ball will be the same every time you use the device.

How to use a stimpmeter?

  1. Place a tee in the green and use that as the start spot for the stimpmeter. Roll 3 balls in the same direction. They should be no more than 8 inches apart when they stop.
  2. Take the average from those rolls and mark with another tee.
  3. Now roll 3 balls back in the opposite direction.
  4. Take the average readings of these rolls.
  5. Now measure the first average and then the second. Take the average of these rolls, and that is the speed of the green. This is your stimpmeter reading.

The stimpmeter is an important device for anyone that is designing or maintaining golf courses. Knowing how the stimpmeter works is also advantageous for the everyday golfer.

Why is it Important?

Consistency is key in any golf course. Each golf course shares similar themes throughout. Even though there are 18 different holes, each hole is connected in the ways of design.

There is a reason for consistency. Any course is meant to test the skill of the golfer over all 18 holes. The course and green surface has to be consistent in how it is laid out and how it plays. 

If each green has a vastly different speed, then golfers would shoot higher scores based on simply guessing the speed of each green, regardless a golfer’s handicap. With consistency, you can get a feel of your putting stroke from hole to hole.

The stimpmeter is calibrated so that it can be used to compare the speed of different golf balls.

While courses are obviously meant to test the skill of any player, it should do so in a “fair” fashion. Consistency in green speed is the best way to set the bar at the same level for each golfer.

The most important part of any course is the green

Regardless if we are talking about the PGA tour or your local municipal golf course, the greens make a course. To the grounds crew and the golfer, the green is arguably the most important part of the course. Caring for the green is meticulous work. It falls on both the grounds crew and the golfer.

You would never walk in someone else’s putting line. But, why? Because even the slightest indents on the green can affect how the ball rolls.

Want to Read greens speed and break? Check out this customized golf green reading book from Strackaline.

What are some of the ways we, as golfers, can help care for the course while we play?

Every golfer needs to have a divot repair tool in their bag. This accessory is simple and cheap. It takes seconds to repair your divots on the green. This is simple course etiquette but will also keep the greens nice and uniform.

This will allow everyone to play evenly, without disruption of divots.

Take care as you walk on the green. Don’t drag your spikes. Don’t walk in other people’s lines. Have respect, and the course will show you respect in return.

Green speed and putting training

Knowing the green speed is important for every golfer. Some simple putting exercises will use muscle memory to improve your distance.

Distance control is one of the most important skills you can have while putting. When you have long putts, you must put it close. The last thing you want to do is put your ball in an even worse position.

If your second putt is even worse positioning, this mounts the pressure. We are always looking to improve our position on each stroke.

Lower your score by eliminating 3 putts

As discussed earlier, distance control is a crucial part of never 3-putting. This is often overlooked by amateur golfers. We like to go out and hammer drives and long irons.

Getting off the green without 3 putting is low hanging fruit. Think about how many strokes you can cut off a round by just limiting your putts.

Many great putters think that paying attention to your line on long putts is not as important as paying attention to your speed. Why? Well, making a putt outside of 10 feet is not easy.

Sure, we see PGA pros do it on a regular basis. That is what they get paid to do.

Think of your putting. How many times have you sunk a long putt outside of 10 feet? How many times have you put the ball in a worse position because you hit it too hard or too soft?

There is nothing worse than leaving your second putt farther away from the hole. Our goal is to control speed and put the ball close.

Lagging your putts in practice

image of how to practice lag putting - AEC InfoWhen you hit the putting green to practice, don’t just practice getting the ball into the hole. Practice lagging. Practice putting multiple balls within a circle of each other.

Go for distances of 30 feet, 20 feet, and 10 feet.

Get yourself comfortable hitting balls at all distances. You should be automatic in putting the ball from a certain area. This will cut down on 3-putts and shave strokes off your score.

Focus on striking the ball in the center of your putter blade. While practicing your putting, focus on the path of your putter. Then you can create a repeatable stroke.

Use techniques like setting up a simple gate with two tees. Then place the golf ball in front of the gate and swing through.

Wrapping up

Learning about tools like the stimpmeter is something that may seem unnecessary for the average golfer.

In reality, knowledge of how a course rolls can only improve your game and give you a deeper appreciation for the sport.

If we understand how the greens are laid out, cut, measured for speed, and hole placement, we can up our game based on that knowledge. It just makes sense.

Long hitters off the tee thrive on certain courses, while great putters thrive on other courses. On some courses, you want to avoid the rough, while others, the rough is not as high.

Knowing the course and how it’s cared for is an important step in your journey as a golfer. Getting better at this game is all about having a plan and executing it. It’s not just hitting drives at the range. It’s methodical and planned out. This includes knowing the course.

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