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A tournament official rolls a ball down a Stimpmeter to check green speed.

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Definition: A "Stimpmeter" is a device used to measure the speed of putting greens - how easily a golf ball rolls across the surface of the green. The Stimpmeter is a very low-tech device, essentially just a small, metal ramp that is angled down to a flat part of a putting green. A golf ball is released down the ramp. How far the ball rolls determines the "stimp" or stimp rating of the green, which is a measurement of green speed. The farther the ball rolls, the faster the greens.

A "Stimp rating" of, for example, 11 means that the golf ball rolled 11 feet after being released from the Stimpmeter (note again that the ball is released onto a flat portion of the green whose speed is being measured).

Why is the term "Stimpmeter" capitalized? Because it is named after its inventor, Edward Stimpson. Stimpson invented it in 1935, after watching golfers who were flummoxed by the speed of the greens during the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Stimpson realized that golf course superintendents needed a way to measure green speeds in order ensure that each green on a golf course rolled at the same speed.

While Stimpson's original Stimpmeter came along in 1935, the device wasn't used in an official way by the USGA until 1976. In 1978, the Stimpmeter was finally adopted by the USGA for use at golf courses around the United States, and it has spread around the world since that time.

Stimpmeters are three feet in length, with a groove down the center and a notch near the top of one end. A golf ball is placed in the notch, and that end of the Stimpmeter is slowly raised by the person using the device. When the notched end of the Stimpmeter reaches an angle of approximately 22 degrees, the golf balls rolls out of the notch and down the grooved plane. It releases onto the green, and the distance the ball rolls is measured. As we said at the beginning, it's low tech.

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How much has green speed increased in golf?

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