What Is A Stimpmeter And How Does It Work?

If you watch golf on television or hang around with golfers that know a lot about the game, chances are you have heard the term Stimpmeter come up once or twice. 

The Stimpmeter is always referred to when discussing the speed of putting greens (or even office putting sets.) If you are curious about what a Stimpmeter is and how it works, we have you covered. 

What Is A Stimpmeter? 

A Stimpmeter is a measuring device used to determine the speed of a golf green. The Stimpmeter was created so that we have a way to accurately compare the speed of one golf green to another. 

Stimpmeters are manufactured by the USGA, and they will be the same general design at any golf course. The Stimpmeter is typically made of aluminum, has a trough that the ball will travel through, and has a little holding place at the top to rest the golf ball. 

The results of the measurements you get when using a Stimpmeter will tell you how fast a green can roll. The higher the numbers, the faster the greens. 

How To Use A Stimpmeter

Man using stimpmeter on a golf green

Using a Stimpmeter is not difficult. These steps can teach you how to use a Stimpmeter to measure your practice devices or the golf course greens where you play. 

Step 1: Find a Level Playing Surface

To get the most accurate results about the speed of the greens, you will want to try and find a level playing surface. The uphill and downhill spots are going to impact the speed too much. 

Step 2: Setup Stimpmeter

The Stimpmeter is a very portable device and easy to set up. It makes no marks or indentations on the green, so it is safe to use at any golf course. 

Simply place the Stimpmeter on the ground and set a golf ball into the holder on the top part of the meter. At this point, hold it in place until you are ready to take a measurement. 

Step 3: Test and Measure 

Next, you will slowly lift up the Stimpmeter until the ball starts to roll down. Once the ball starts rolling, hold the meter at this angle and let the ball travel its full distance after rolling down the ramp. 

Once you have this process down, complete it three times and then swing and test three times in the opposite direction. 

When you are testing the first direction, you will measure the distance from the base of the Stimpmeter to where the ball stopped rolling. Once you have all three golf balls measured, you can take the average of their distances. 

If the ball rolled 8 feet, 10 feet, and 12 feet, your average distance was 10 feet, and those greens would be considered to roll at a 10 on the Stimpmeter. 

The purpose of switching direction and testing from both sides is to ensure that you are considering grain in the greens. If you can 10 from one angle and 12 from another, your greens are running at an 11 on the Stimpmeter. 

Of course, this is not an exact science when done by amateur golfers, tournament committees, and superintendents around the country. However, as the average is concerned, the numbers are accurate enough to help us have a better idea of green speeds. 

Why Is A Stimpmeter Important? 

A Stimpmeter is essential because it allows golfers to compare golf greens from one course to another. 

When professionals play a course, and the greens are running at a 14, as an amateur player, you may not even understand the speed that this truly entails. For some, it would be like putting across your wood floors. 

The Stimpmeter also helps golf course superintendents looking to improve green speed and make the greens run more true to speed. Sometimes for a club championship or a member guest tournament, the superintendent will do an extra roll to try and increase the Stimpmeter readings. 

What is a Stimpmeter? | Golf Digest

Frequently Asked Questions 

Unless you have worked with golf course maintenance crews or professionals, the word Stimpmeter may be entirely new to you. Here are some of the most important facts to keep in mind and why this technology is vital for all golfers to understand. 

What is considered fast on the Stimpmeter?

Most golfers enjoy green speeds in the 9 and 10 range as they feel manageable. Anything over 12 starts to get really fast, and then when numbers move towards 14 and 15 you will find that most amateur golfers are not adequately prepared to play at this speed. 

How fast is 13 on the Stimpmeter?

A speed of 13 on the Stimpmeter is quite fast. This means that when the Stimpmeter is raised, the ball will travel 13 feet across the greens. This would be a common speed seen in golf majors

What is the average on a Stimpmeter?

The greens at Augusta have been known to roll at 14 or 15 on the Stimpmeter. This just goes to show you that there is a reason players want to be in certain areas on the green; putting downhill to a pin when green speeds are at 14 or 15 is incredibly difficult. 

How fast were greens in the 70s?

Green speeds have increased significantly since the ’70s. With modern technology and increased knowledge of golf course maintenance, most green speeds on the PGA Tour have doubled since the ’70s. 

Final Thoughts

It may or may not be necessary for you to run out and grab your own Stimpmeter to measure your greens, but knowing this terminology and using it to your advantage can help. 

If your golf course professional or superintendent mentions, that the greens are rolling at an 11 today, keep it a little below the pin when possible.

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