Stimp Meters - How Fast Is Your Course?
February 27th, 2017
If you are fairly new to golfing, you might not have even heard of a stimp meter yet. The average leisurely golfer might not ever need to know what a stimp meter is. But, since a stimp meter is important to the speed of a golf course, it doesn't hurt to know a little about it.
If you play golf for any length of time, you will hear serious golfers talk about how the course is "stimping." This refers to how fast the courses are running and that speed can actually be estimated with a stimp meter.
A stimp meter is the device used to measure the speed of the greens. To get the stimp rating, a ball is rolled down a little ramp (the stimp meter) in eight different directions. The stimp rating is the average distance the ball rolls once it touches the greens. For instance, a course with a stimp rating of 12 is a course in which the ball rolled an average of 12 feet once it hit the greens. Most Professional Golfers Association courses run at a 10 to 12 stimp rating. The higher the number, the faster the course. Most municipal golf courses have an average stimp reading range from 7 to 10.
Why is it important to know a course's stimp rating? You probably won't ever care about it unless you play competitively (or play with other people who play competitively). A stimp rating might explain why you've had a "bad" day on the course. For instance, when you usually score well on a course with an average stimp rating, you might not score as well on a course with a higher rating and faster course.
Another consideration in measuring stimp rate is the turf on which you are playing golf. It was once true that the rate difference was obvious between natural grass and artificial turf. Today, however, manufacturers take their artificial grass seriously. Many brands have developed special "natural bend" features that mimic the way real grass moves. There should be no discernable difference in the stimp meter reading these days on courses with artificial greens.
For golfers who like to practice putting at home, you can buy outdoor synthetic turf putting greens for your backyard. If you'd like to practice based on the course you will soon be playing, you can adjust the stimp rating on your practice greens to match that of the course you will soon play. As with any purchase, research the companies that sell such products, learn all the pros and cons of the practice turf and ask all relevant questions before you buy a system.
If the course doesn't have to travel particularly fast for you and you are content to get the exercise and relaxation that a day of golfing provides, you'll probably never need to know the stimp rating of the courses you play. But, if someone comes up to you and asks how the greens are stimping, you'll know what they're talking about