The greens at The Masters are among the fastest on the planet, but how fast do they run compared to the greens we play on?
The large sloping greens at the US Masters are among the fastest on the planet, but how fast do Augusta National’s putting surfaces run compared to the greens we play on?
Well let me warn you here, there is no bulletproof answer because Augusta National has never let anyone do an official reading using a stimpmeter.
Fortunately for you, we have found the next best thing.
For decades Augusta National forbid the Georgia State Golf Association from rating the course, so in 1991 Golf Digest put together a team of USGA Course Rating experts to rate the course unofficially during the US Masters tournament.
That first unofficial rating of the championship course was 76.2, meaning a golfer with a handicap of 0 should expect to shoot four-over the course’s par of 72. In 2010 it was re-rated unofficially during the three practice rounds and had increased to 78.1, due in no small part to it being lengthened by more than 500 yards during the time that elapsed.
It was during this second assessment that the team of experienced experts provided an educated guess at the speed of the greens at The Masters.
Normally green speed is measured using a stimpmeter. This ramp style device has a notch and the ball is pulled out of that notch by gravity when the device is slowly raised to an angle of about 20°, rolling onto the green at a repeatable velocity of 6.00 feet per second. How many feet it then rolls on a flat putting green is the green speed.
For some further perspective, the greens at Oakmont Country Club (where the stimpmeter was conceived) are some of the fastest in the world, with readings of 13–15 feet.
The number that was estimated for Augusta National was 12 feet.
It is often noted however, that the Bentgrass greens at Augusta National can change speed during the day as they dry out in the morning and then slow down as the sun sets in the evening, peaking somewhere around 15 on the stimpmeter. Throw in the challenge of some of the most severe putting slopes on the planet and you can see why the professionals give the place so much respect.