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USGA Gets Into The Branded Stimpmeter Business

Knowing how Executive Director Mike Davis feels about the negative influence of faster green speeds on cost, pace of play and even in driving people to anchor putters, today's announcement of a USGA-logoed. $110 Stimpmeter won't go down as one of the best days in the organization's history. While they advocate the Stimpmeter for consistency, superintendents will tell you that the Stimp ends up encouraging faster greens.

Especially when they say this:

While different layouts present distinct challenges, each course needs to offer competitors consistent conditions in order to provide a fair test. And one of the most important aspects of course maintenance is uniform putting surfaces.

Not only do variations in speed from green to green negate a player’s skill, they also greatly decrease enjoyment of a round.

Remember when it was a skill to scout out a course and note the slight variations in speed?

Even for golfers playing a recreational round, a course with greens of varying speeds can be a bewildering, frustrating experience.

Millions of golfers, from U.S. Open contestants to beginners, have benefited from the Stimpmeter, a simple tool offered by the United States Golf Association that allows superintendents, agronomists and course officials to accurately measure the speed of greens and provide consistent playing conditions.

You can order it for $110 according to this link, but get this slab of plastic for just $75 if you trade in your old Stimpmeter. While supplies last! And let's hope for the sake of the superintendents of the world, they last and last and last.

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Reader Comments (27)

That's about $109 more than it's really worth.

Of course, if I remember the numbers correctly, that is what Mitt Romney makes in about 20 seconds from his investments.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim S
LOL! No thanks!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
Another item from the store, Death of Common Sense.

Mike Davis, You are fast becoming a huge disappointment.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
Does the USGA make one for sand, too?

Where I play the bunkers are inconsistent and it just ruins the round for me.

Oh, and if I carry one with me to measure green fastness, does it count as a 15th club?
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
A stimpmeter can also prevent greens being set too fast. This is particularly important in the case of links course where wind is a big factor.

Pretty sure the stimpmeter is aluminum and not plastic. But also I'm guessing the $110 price is that fact that these are not mass produced and so the set-up fees to produce them is a big chunk of the price vs. the material. If they produced 100,000 of them the price would drop sharpley...but when you only produce a few thousand, they cost more. It is the same concept as textbooks...students often wonder why a certain textbook costs $90, when it has the same amount of pages as one that cost $30. If it is a limited production, the overhead is much more per book.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
are they paying a royalty to Tom Stimpson's family?? The original was made of wood, I believe.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMedia maven
We grass guys hate the damn things but the guys in the folks in the golf shop love 'em. I can generally putt a green a tell within +/- "6 what they are rolling. Problem with the stimp is finding a flat spot on the green to get an accurate reading. And yes mine is aluminum.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S

Make like a tree and beat it!

"but the guys in the folks in the golf shop"? I guess the fungicides are beginning to effect my grammar.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
CARNAPTIOUS AND CAMSTEERIE not sure you understand the stimpmeter. You can't stimp in a gale.

01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJM
I really like fast greens and our club tries to maintain consistently fast greens. We stimp and we like the greens to be the same on all 36 holes.
We pay the superintentdent lots of money to keep them fast. It is a very important part of his job.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commentercreek
advancements in agronomy plus a golf ball so hot greens around the country are going to stimp out @ 340 yards forcing clubs to expand their greens dramatically. This in turn will likely cause Geoff to give up his pursuits in the realm of golf and turn his attention to maintaining the integrity of lawn bowling greens (I hear greens in that sport have gotten dangerously flat these days and threatening participation nationwide)
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommentersunDevil
Hey. Brad S. Effect??? Maybe affect? Stop licking your stimpmeter.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan S
There is a cool croquet lawn near downtown here, and it's lighted, and reservations are available, Looks like common bermuda, and I really don't think they stimp it.

Brad s. How long is the stimpmeter?

Ludell- not a club, but an aid. You could carry it if you didn't use it.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
The USGA used to say (paraphrased from memory) that they did not sell Stimpmeters to the public because they did not want to contribute to a situation wherein club golfers were pressuring their superintendents on green-speed (i.e., a dick-measuring contest).

I wonder what lead them to change their attitude.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Nelson
oy vey
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
I would think a ruler would serve as a proper measuring device, or a yardstick for the gifted should do it.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@ JM ... never said it was.

Someone explain why there is all the sneering towardfast greens. I am sure they among most every golfer, fast greens are associated with excellent golf courses. And smooth, fast greens are much much more important to most every golfer than vague concepts of strategic golf course architecture. Right?
Good, fast greens are the most obvious sign that one is playing an excellent golf course, right?
01.26.2013 | Unregistered Commentercreek

Please read "The Future of Golf" by Geoff Shackelford, the book this blog is based upon.

If you arrived here after Hydrant Day and the TMZ Effect that knocked things out of proper orbit, it will help to read the book.

As to fast greens, the plant has to be managed on the edge of death to give you the speed you think you want. It is very costly and creates an "arms race" between courses as players brag about how fast their course speeds are.

Also, most golfers have the wrong idea of their actual green speeds, kind of like their estimation of their reproductive organ size.

If average golfer took up boxing, he would want to jump right in the ring with Mike Tyson, come out brain damaged and missing one ear and immediately blame the person responsible for ring conditions.

I just lie about green speeds and hope that I never get penalized for anchoring . . . a stimpmeter in a green chairman demanding year round 11.5 speeds because he saw it on tv.

Smooth greens, yes. Fast? You can't handle fast, you just think you can. 12 will roll off most greens, especially if said green has any movement above 2.5%.
Back down the demand for fast before you kill us all.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller

I'm 0 for 2, effect = noun, affect= verb.


Generally they are 36" but I have an 24" inch extension on mine so that I can anchor it to my midsection. My nerves are not quite what they use to be and under tournament pressure my release gets a bit yippy.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
What Ludell says. Besides, most of the courses we see on the teevee machine are primed for that one week a year, and most of the rest of the year get minimal traffic compared to the average public course. I am putting now on mostly dormant, older Bermuda "overseeded" with green food coloring. It makes for a great putting surface: very smooth with just a little bit of grain. But on one-third of the holes, "above the hole" means that the ball doesn't stop until it reaches about 5 feet past the fringe and comes to rest in the uncolored, muddy dormant Bermuda. You need a flat surface in both directions to Stimp, but these downhill putts are probably 12+. Nevertheless there are two good things about that: (1) you learn to keep the ball below the hole, even if that means skipping it up short of the green to avoid a mud ball, and (2) when you mess up and the first putt leaves the building, so to speak, if you are able to get up and down, that's still only 2 putts ;-).

As for the TMZ Effect, it has always been a target-rich environment, but it seems to have become even more target-rich since Thanksgiving Night of 2009. I'll try to do better...And I'll also rejoin the USGA when Golf Journal comes back.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I like my uphill putts fast and my downhill putts slow. I had a guy putt off two greens and tell me they were slow.. When I was on the green committee!

Ludell I really enjoy your videos, "I'm a walker" my favorite line
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
The engineer in me suggests that the difference between various stimpmeters (conforming and non-conforming....gag) are variations too small to measure. The unit of "stimp" is average distance (averaged both ways on a mostly level portion of a green). We generally report Stimp to the nearest foot or half foot (Stimp 9.5, 11, 12.5......). I contend that any Stimpmeter will get you an accurate enough reading to report stimp sensitive to a half foot..
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan
Just wondering: Is the Official Stimpmeter "Made in China" ???
01.27.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdgs
Is there any reason these couldn't be knocked off and sold for $15?

Reminds me of these Tour Sticks they sell two for $ can buy them all day long down at Home Depot for about $1.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The 78 year old stimpmeter is as contemporary as hand cranking a car to start it. We have developed a direct reading gauge about two feet long that with the press of a small release lever will show the green speed. Fits in the bag and will be open to the market early 2014. Contact sales@ focus I can't imagine the USGA restricting sales of this almost accurate piece of equipment. When you must take the average of three readings up and down slope's a mental summation of how hard or soft to putt. The practice green shows you the same thing with a visual feedback. As the day progresses the grass grows and the greens slow down. Grass also leans into the setting sun to affect the grain and green speed. The purist likes the feedback of a stimpmeter reading but at times it is like plumb bobbing a 12 inch putt.
06.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Pfaff

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