The Official Name is Actually “Stimpmeter”
A stimpmeter is a device that is used to detect the speed of a putting green. The device gets its name from its inventor, a gentleman named Edward Stimpson. Stimpson was a ranked amateur golfer from my home State of Massachusetts.
Make your own stimpmeter
I had been playng golf for about ten years before I had actually seen one so I figured you may be interested. I actually made one last year and it worked pretty well. If you want to make a home-made stimpmeter you can follow this diagram.
Hypethetical rendering of a stimpmeter:
How does a Stimpmeter work
It is a very simple idea. A metal “track” would hold the golf ball and the golf ball would rest in a notch in the track until the device reached an angle of 20 degrees. Once 20 degrees was reached the golf ball would come out of the small notch and roll down the track.
The distance the ball rolls on the green once it has left the track is the “Stimp” reading. For example, if the ball rolls an average of 11.2 feet then the stimp reading would be 11.2.
The track is a total of 36 inches long and the notch for the golf ball is exactly 30 inches from the lower end of the track. The angle of the track and the distance from the notch where the golf ball rests prior to release create a known velocity and the resulting distance the ball rolls is a precise measurement.
In order for the reading to be official the ball must roll in the track and only make contact in two spots on the ball exactly one half of one inch apart.
What is the Stimp reading of my course
Most public courses range from 8.5 to 10.5 dependent upon a number of factors. Most PGA Tour greens stimp out around 11 and Major Championship courses run between 11.5 and 13.0.
History of The Stimpmeter
Legend has it Mr. Stimpson attended the US Open at Oakmont where he watched Gene Sarazen putt a ball off the green. Mr. Stimpson felt as though the green was far too fast. So he decided he would invent a device to officially calculate the speed of greens.
USGA Acceptance of The Stimpmeter
Although the device was invented in 1938, the USGA adopted the stimpmeter in 1976 when it was first used for The US Open at Atlanta Athletic Club.
The official United States Golf Association stimpmeters are not sold to the general public.
The USGA governs the rules of official stimp readings. In order for a reading to be official the test must be done on a flat part of a green and at least 3 rolls or stimp tests in either direction must be performed. The average of the tests is the official stimpmeter reading of that particular golf course, for that particular cut, on that day.
The three balls tested in either direction must come to rest within 8 inches of each other for the result to be official.
What if there is no flat spot on the putting green to test, you ask?
A man named Doug Brede developed an equation for this conundrum so have no fear, the USGA is getting accurate readings.