Stimpmeter, A love story

There may be no bigger scourge to the golf course superintendent, than the stimpmeter. This recent Twitter thread put some of these thoughts on full display. This 3-foot long aluminum stick, originally designed to measure putting surface consistency across a particular course, inevitably became a way for courses to measure themselves against other courses.

This blog is not the typical stimpmeter hate mail, this blog is more of a love story.

I would not start out by calling my previous relationship with the stimpmeter hate, probably not even dislike. A more accurate word would be ambivalence. The greens at my first course, Northland Country Club, were very severely sloped and difficult to stimp. On the occasions of big events, I might take the stimp to the 13th (flattest) green and get an idea of the speed. Mostly though I’d putt on them and listen to golfer comments to judge whether our practices were producing the requisite speed. As I would come to find out years later, the fact we rolled every single day probably had a lot to do with the speed. I once had an employee approach me to say; “I’m not complaining, but I wanted to let you know I’ve rolled greens 27 days in a row.” He was REALLY good at rolling greens, but don’t worry, he did something different the next day. This story has always been a funny reminder to me that we never skipped rolling at Northland, and we almost never had complaints about greenspeed.

Fast forward a number of years and during the final green committee meeting of 2018, a member asked me; “when you stimp, do you stimp multiple greens?” My answer was no. I felt like I wanted to stimp every day, but something always seemed to get in the way. My stimping routine went something like this:

Monday-didn’t mow or roll, what’s the point?

Tuesday-Stimp the small putting green. Disappointed in the number…shrug.

Wednesday-Stimp the small putting green. Number is better.



Saturday-Too many people around.

Sunday-Didn’t go into work and forget to have someone do it for me.

I’m kind of making this up, but you get the picture. I did it sometimes, only on one green and because it did not seem important enough, I let other things get in the way.

In June of 2019, Hazeltine hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and of course, we stimped a lot of greens in the morning and evening. When we hosted the Ryder Cup, we stimped a lot of greens, both in the morning and the evening. Why? Consistency of course, and to make sure we were attaining the speed desired by the PGA of America’s setup guru Kerry Haigh.

Following the KPMG, I thought: “why am I not stimping multiple greens every day?” My brother, an accountant said: “I would think the stimp is a number you would want to know everyday.” When it comes to numbers, my accountant brother is someone worth listening to. So, starting June 25th, I stimped an average of 10 greens every day until October 16th, when I stopped for the season.

Here’s my method:

  • I will typically do the stimping myself, shortly after the final prep of the surface (either a mow, a roll, or both).

Here is a list of the things I’ve learned by stimping multiple greens every day:

  • The real greenspeed our members enjoy for daily play.

Since I started stimping our greens every day, I cannot remember a complaint about greenspeed. They are consistent from green to green and they are consistent from day to day. It has also allowed us to dial in our practices to get the ideal speed for the conditions. We have also been able to gain true knowledge of how various practices impact greenspeed. I would even say our greens are faster, with less effort than they were before daily stimp measurements. We know the right practices to employ, or not, at the right times to get the very best from our surfaces.

If your stimpmeter keeps your door propped open and you are happy with it’s performance and the performance of your greens; keep it there. If you feel like there is room to improve the performance of your greens, maybe your golfers make one too many negative comments about green speed? Blow the dust of that aluminium stick, grab a tape measure and start measuring.



Husband, dad and Golf Course Supt | 👀 to help & be inspired by others, while also inspiring & learning from them | I ply my trade and hone my craft @Hazeltine

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Chris Tritabaugh

Husband, dad and Golf Course Supt | 👀 to help & be inspired by others, while also inspiring & learning from them | I ply my trade and hone my craft @Hazeltine