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How to measure the speed of a golf putting green

Updated on December 1, 2016

Make your own "Stimpmeter" to estimate putting green speed

Those who play golf are familiar with the concept of green speed - the distance the ball travels on the green before coming to rest. Green speed estimates are crucial to let golfers adjust their way of putting to different green conditions. Read this hub and see that it is likely that in your attic or garage you can find what you need to make a useful "almost" Stimpmeter, the device designed to measure green speed. And add this to your list of best putting tips.

The importance of controlling distance

When you try to sink a long putt, if you are a talented lucky golfer, you may hole it but common golf players usually don't succeed. So, what you desperately need is to let yourself a short second putt in order to avoid 3 putting. This means that you have to control the roll of that long putt but there's no way to do it if you have no idea about the green speed. To solve this problem Edward Stimpson designed a device, the stimpmeter, that is not sold to the public and that, due to golf rules, you can't use on the course. But you can make something similar and take it to the practice green in order to get a quantitative measure of how fast the greens are. And it is not difficult to build!

Here it is, a device that fulfils your needs

What we need are reliable and repeatable results

The basic principle is to choose an area of the green that is as flat and level as possible, make a golf ball move and touch the green always with the same speed and let it roll till it stops. Then, just measure roll distance.

For that purpose, use an aluminum (or plastic, or wood) bar, 20 to 30 inches long, and adjust it to your putter in order to always get the same slope (as the pictures show). Release 3 balls, one after another, let them roll freely in one direction and then roll them back. Average the distances (in ft) you got in both directions and the result is the measure of your “personal stimpmeter” for that green.

Of course, PGA officials wouldn’t accept it as the real green speed. But it’s enough to let you know that if, for example, a green, that usually displays 7 ft, today displays 8 or 9, it is really faster than it usually is and it would be wise to make some adjustments to your putts.

First step

Get an aluminum (or plastic, or wood) bar, 20 to 30 inches long and with a groove, along its entire length, to hold the ball . . .

. . . and use it this way

Turn your putter upside-down and ground it vertically on the green. Adjust the bar to your putter in order to always get the same slope.

In this case the distance from the green to the top of the bar is the length of the grip. While you keep using the same putter and grip the test will be repeatable and the results meaningful.

With one hand hold firmly the bar and the putter.

In this case the distance from the green to the top of the bar is the length of the grip.
In this case the distance from the green to the top of the bar is the length of the grip.

Get the first one of 3 balls and hold it on the bar against your index finger that is holding the bar against the putter shaft.

Release the ball and . . .

Click thumbnail to view full-size
. . .  see it start . . .. . .  gain speed . . .. . .  touch the green and . . .. . . get a nice cluster of 3 balls
. . .  see it start . . .
. . . see it start . . .
. . .  gain speed . . .
. . . gain speed . . .
. . .  touch the green and . . .
. . . touch the green and . . .
. . . get a nice cluster of 3 balls
. . . get a nice cluster of 3 balls

This is perhaps the easiest DIY Hub you can get

Usually golfers struggle to adjust by themselves to greens conditions. Having a small device that you can carry on your golf bag and use for 2 or 3 minutes, on the practice green, in order to get a fair quantitative estimate of green speed, is priceless. This lens was inspired in my ebook How to Putt for Success - Fine Tuning Your Golf Putting Technique. It comes free with my other ebook Golf Putting Lines.

You can read about both in

I got my "stimpmeter" in 10 minutes

Went to the attic, looked for bars, chose one, came down, got my putter, scratched my head for 30 seconds, decided to turn the putter upside-down, tried to adjust the two objects one against another and . . . there it was.

Let's see what golfers think about this subject

Would the information about green speed help you putt better?

See results

Go to Amazon and . . . find a way to improve your golf putting

Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest
Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest
If this man can't teach us anything about golf putting, who else can?

Reader's Feedback. Hi! You are welcome here. Any comments, suggestions, doubts, criticism, etc, will be appreciated.

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    • Marcel W profile imageAUTHOR

      Marcel White 

      4 years ago

      Hi Fred,

      There’s certainly a misunderstanding. Stimpmeters are not to be used during the game. It's enough if one player uses it, on the practice green, before the game and announces something like “today, green speed is 8”. If it’s different from the usual results all the members of the foursome know what to do to adjust to the new conditions.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      With the 150 plus people I've played golf with "maybe" one could make use of a stimp meter. I can only hope this gadget does not fall into the hands of the 4 some playing ahead of me.

    • Marcel White profile image

      Marcel White 

      4 years ago

      If you share the result with them I’m sure they’ll thank you.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      4 years ago from PNW

      Not sure how the "stimpmeter" would be received by my fellow foursome, but I'll try it. Thx. Shared.


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