In 1975, I designed a device – based on a concept originally developed by Eddie Stimpson in 1935 – to most effectively quantify the speed of greens. I had five wooden Stimpmeters built and asked the USGA agronomists to measure green speeds using this new device during their consultation visits.
The speeds of greens in 35 of the United States were analyzed in 1976 and recommendations made for various course set-ups conditions. The medium speed for everyday play was 6.5 feet; for club competitions 8.5 feet; and 10.5 feet for major and tour competitions. (As an aside, the green speed in the Bobby Jones era was approximately 4 feet, thus the need for his 8-degree lofted putter.)
Today agronomic practices have changed allowing speeds to increase – without damaging the grass plant or compromising the challenge – to about 1 ½ feet faster than the 1977 recommendations.
This takes the recommended green speed for major competitions – depending on the undulations — up to approximately 12 feet. At this speed, the integrity of most green designs is not compromised, while maintaining the optimal number of hole locations to about 24 while retaining a fair challenge for the skilled golfer.
I am looking forward to watching this week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot to see how the players cope with the beautiful, undulating greens. The balance between speed and slope is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the green design and creating a fair challenge.
For more information about the Stimpmeter visit https://franklygolf.info/2018/04/04/measuring-green-speeds/