What is a stimpmeter and how does it work? This simple device is a crucial tool for any greenkeeper - we take a look at how it works and why it is needed.

What is a stimpmeter and how does it work?

If you are used to watching professional golf on the TV, you have probably heard commentators refer to stimpmeter readings. But what is a stimpmeter and how does it work?

A stimpmeter is a relatively primitive contraption – a long narrow metal tray with a hole in one end, at first sight it has a less than scientific look. But despite the basic design, a stimpmeter is a clever and crucial piece of kit for any greenkeeper.

A stimpmeter provides a reading for how fast the greens are. The video accompanying this article shows exactly how the process works but you start by finding a relatively flat area of the green. You place a ball in the hole and slowly lift that end of the stimpmeter (resting the other end on the ground). You eventually reach a point when the ball rolls out of the hole – let it travel down the stimpmeter and onto the green. You then measure from the bottom end of the stimpmeter to the where the ball came to rest – this is your first reading for the speed of the greens.

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You then repeat the process from where the ball finished but going in exactly the opposite direction. This means you can allow for changes in slope and grain that might affect the speed of that particular area of the green. You add the two readings together and then divide them by two for your total.

What makes the perfect green

What is a stimpmeter and how does it work?

A stimpmeter is useful for greenkeepers to be able to check the pace of their greens. This is particularly important at links venues where strong winds can occasionally make overly fast greens unplayable. Being able to test and then adjust the green speed is a way of ensuring the greens are playable everyday. For everyday club golf between 9 or 10 on the stimpmeter would be a good pace. When the greens get up to 11, 12 or even 13 – that’s extremely quick.

Not all about pace

How fast are the greens at The Masters?

One important point to make is that the speed of the greens also depends on how undulating they are. The greens at Augusta National are notoriously quick but this is as much down to their slope as their raw speed. Again, the greenstaff at Augusta would have the ability to make the putting surfaces even faster than they are but this would make the course unplayable. For most golfers, even professionals – 12 on the stimpmeter is fast enough!