How Are Green Speeds Measured in Golf?

A green’s speed is often mentioned in golf but have you ever wondered how it is actually measured?

Green speeds in golf are measured using a device called a stimpmeter. This tool was invented by Edward S. Stimpson in 1935 and has since become a standard for assessing the speed and consistency of putting greens.

A stimpmeter is a simple, V-shaped metal ramp, typically made of aluminum, measuring 36 inches long. The process for measuring green speed with a stimpmeter involves the following steps:

  1. Selecting a Flat Area: Begin by choosing a level section of the green, free from slopes or undulations, to ensure accurate measurements.
  2. Positioning the Stimpmeter: Place the stimpmeter on the ground and rest a golf ball at the top of the ramp. The ramp has a notch that holds the ball in place until released.
  3. Releasing the Ball: Gently raise the end of the stimpmeter where the ball is placed until it rolls down the ramp. The angle of elevation is set so that the ball always rolls down with the same force, typically released at an angle of about 20 degrees.
  4. Measuring Distance: Measure the distance the ball rolls from the end of the stimpmeter to where it comes to rest. This is done three times in one direction and then three times in the opposite direction to account for any slope or wind effects. The average distance in feet is calculated from these six measurements.
  5. Calculating Green Speed: The final step is to take the average distance the ball rolled and use this as the green speed. For example, if the ball rolled an average of 10 feet, the green speed is said to be 10 feet.

The resulting number, in feet, indicates the green speed. Higher numbers mean faster greens, which can significantly affect putting strategies. For context, typical green speeds can range from 8 feet (moderate speed) to over 13 feet (very fast greens) on the stimpmeter scale.

Measuring green speed with a stimpmeter helps golf course superintendents maintain consistent playing conditions and ensures that greens meet the standards for various levels of competition. This measurement is particularly critical for tournament preparations, where uniform playing surfaces are essential for fairness and playability.

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