Every golfer and golf course superintendent seeks the same characteristic when it comes to putting greens; consistency. Theoretically, reproducing the same stroke on different greens should yield the same result. No one wants to vary their putting stroke to adhere to different greens. Obviously, undulation needs to be factored in every time but a ball should roll the same distance on the practice green, as it does on the 18th.
This is why golf course superintendents go to such lengths to create a consistent playing field throughout the entire course. There are several cultural practices that are used to create this consistency. They include: adjusting mowing heights, proper irrigation, verti-cutting, rolling, and stimping your greens. A stimpmeter is a device that measures the speed of a green. The Stimpmeter is an aluminum bar, 36 inches long and is placed on the green with a ball at the top. The super will then slowly raise the ball side of the bar until the ball rolls down it and releases out onto the green. It is designed in such a way that the velocity of the ball will always be the same when it rolls off.
A superintendent will stimp every one of his greens(on a flat spot) several times, charting the distance the ball rolls after leaving the device. Each green should be rolling within a foot’s distance of the other in order to provide golfers with a fair surface to test themselves.
Among all the cultural practices we apply to our greens, I feel stimping is the most overlooked. Although it is not exactly the most scientific process, finding out what your greens are rolling at is an excellent way to provide the best product possible to your customers. I think it has several underlying purposes that are commonly overlooked. Most importantly it should speed up the time it takes to play a round. Since more than half a golfer’s strokes occur on the putting green, consistency is essential to keeping the average round time down. I’m sure that is something we all can be happy about, golfers and supers alike.