2D man and his stimpmeter
What Is A Stimpmeter?
By KorryFranke on 8/27/07
What is a stimpmeter?

Imagine standing over your first putt of the day. To sink the birdie putt and start your round off well, you've gotta sink this 10 footer. You don't want to leave it short, but you don't want to hit it so hard that it goes 15 feet beyond the hole, either. Then you recall hearing some golfers in the clubhouse talking about the greens being slow today. But how do you know that what is slow to them is what's slow to you? Thankfully for us, a device was created years ago that is used to measure the speed of a green- the Stimpmeter. But what the heck is that? Well, Kevin Langdon and the rest of oobgolfers who wonder the same thing, read on and you'll find out!

In 1935, successful amateur golfer Edward Stimpson developed the first version of what would later become known as the Stimpmeter. Stimpson's device, basically a straight aluminum rod nearly one yard long with a "V"-shaped groove running its entire length, created a uniform way to roll a golf ball onto a putting surface at just about the same speed every time. Thus, the further a ball rolled from the end of the device, the faster the speed of the green. A desirable speed for a green measures anywhere from 7 feet to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter with championship speeds on the higher end of the scale. If it's less than 7, well, you may want to consider your driver for that tap in since you're basically putting into tar! Ok... I exaggerate slightly.

The key to the device is releasing the golf ball at nearly the same height every time. This will ensure that the speed of the ball leaving the Stimpmeter is constant. To do this, a small notch was added onto one end of the device. By placing the ball in the notch and slowly raising the end closest to the ball, the ball will release at approximately the same angle to the putting surface, i.e. height above the green, every time.

Still, a number is only a number and doesn't really mean much to you or any other golfer unless you know how that number feels to you. That means a lot of practice on the putting green so that you learn what an 8 on the Stimpmeter feels like (or a 7 or 9 or 10, etc.). Only when you have an idea of what a certain Stimpmeter measurement feels like (in other words, your own baseline) can you anticipate how different Stimpmeter measurements will affect the way you need to putt.

For more information on the Stimpmeter, check out the USGA's website here.

Thanks for the great question, Kevin. And as always, keep your questions coming and I'll get to them in upcoming issues of "Know the Game."

Email Korry your questions at korry@oobgolf.com.

Korry Franke is a Boeing 757 and 767 pilot for Continental Airlines where he flies out of Newark, NJ to destinations across the US and around the globe. He lives in Bethlehem, PA where he spends most of his time on days off at the driving range or out on the golf course giving his game the practice it so desperately needs.

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