It was designed in 1935 by golfer Edward S. Stimpson, Sr. (1904–1985). The Massachusetts state amateur champion and former Harvard golf team captain, Stimpson was a spectator at the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont near Pittsburgh, where the winning score was 299 (+11). After witnessing a putt by a top professional (Gene Sarazen, a two-time champion) roll off a green, Stimpson was convinced the greens were unreasonably fast, but wondered how he could prove it. He developed a device, made of wood, now known as the Stimpmeter, which is an angled track that releases a ball at a known velocity so that the distance it rolls on a green's surface can be measured.
In 1976, it was redesigned from aluminum by Frank Thomas of the United States Golf Association (USGA). It was first used by the USGA during the 1976 U.S. Open at Atlanta and made available to golf course superintendents in 1978. The 1976 version is painted green.
In January 2013, the USGA announced a third generation device based on work by Steven Quintavalla, a senior research engineer at the USGA labs. A second hole in this version enables the option of a shorter run-out. This version is painted blue, and is manufactured to a higher engineering tolerance to improve accuracy and precision.
Official USGA stimpmeters are not sold to the public.
The 1976 device is an extruded aluminum bar, 36 inches (91 cm) long and 1.75 inches (4.4 cm) wide, with a 145° V-shaped groove extending along its entire length, supporting the ball at two points, 0.50 in (1.27 cm) apart. It is tapered at one end by removing metal from its underside to reduce the bounce of the ball as it rolls onto the green. It has a notch at a right angle to the length of the bar 30 inches (76 cm) from the lower tapered end where the ball is placed. The notch may be a hole completely through the bar or just a depression in it. The ball is pulled out of the 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 ft/s (1.83 m/s). The distance travelled by the ball in feet is the 'speed' of the putting green. Six distances, three in each of two opposite directions, should be averaged on a flat section of the putting green. The three balls in each direction must be within 8 inches (20 cm) of each other for USGA validation of the test.
One problem is finding a near level surface as required in the USGA handbook. Many greens cannot be correctly measured as there may not be an area where the measured distance or green speed in opposing directions is less than a foot, particularly when they are very fast and thus require a very long level surface. A formula, based on the work of Isaac Newton, as derived and extensively tested by A. Douglas Brede, solves that problem. The formula is:
(where S↑ is speed up the slope and S↓ is speed down the slope on the same path) eliminates the effect of the slope and provides a true green speed even on severely sloped greens.
|Slow||4.5 feet (1.4 m)|
|Medium||6.5 feet (2.0 m)|
|Fast||8.5 feet (2.6 m)|
|Slow||6.5 feet (2.0 m)|
|Medium||8.5 feet (2.6 m)|
|Fast||10.5 feet (3.2 m)|
- Frank Thomas (October 2001). "Equipment Extra: Eddie Stimpson's slant on putting". Golf Digest.
- "Edward S. Stimpson". New York Times. UPI. March 28, 1985. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Duca, Rob (June 6, 1998). "How fast is that green? Thanks to Ed Stimpson, we now know". Cape Cod Times. Hyannis, Massachusetts. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Dvorchak, Robert (June 13, 2007). "Reading the greens". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. E-6.
- John Paul Newport (January 25, 2013). "Ta-Da! Stimpmeter Makeover". Golf Journal (A version of this article appeared January 26, 2013, on page A16 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Ta-Da! Stimpmeter Makeover.).
- Brian W. Holmes, "Dialogue concerning the Stimpmeter", The Physics Teacher 24/7 (1986) 401–404.
- USGA Stimpmeter Instruction Booklet
- A. Douglas Brede (November 1990). "Measuring green speed on sloped putting greens" (PDF).
- "Oakmont: Rock & roll (& roll & roll & roll) nightmare". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2007-06-10.
- A Better Stimpmeter And Calculator. CSG, Computer Support Group, Inc. and CSGNetwork.Com
- How to build your own Stimpmeter
- The Stimpmeter by the Rambling Man (with a picture)
- "Up with the Stimpmeter by Stanley J. Zontek" (PDF). (566 KB)
- "The Stimpmeter – A management tool by Patrick M. O'Brien" (PDF). (457 KB)
- "Green speed physics by Authur P. Weber" (PDF). (901 KB)
- "Utilizing the Stimpmeter for its intended use by Michael Morris" (PDF). (256 KB)