Probably the most talked about topic on a golf course and definitely bordering on the most controversial. Everyone wants fast greens but it can’t always be delivered 12 months of the year, particularly in our climate and with the player numbers we put through. The Stimpmeter is a device that measures green speed and until recent green firmness devices, was the only definitive measurement available for putting greens. No other measurement was available and the quality or otherwise of greens was in the eye of the beholder, or the person holding the putter as it were. I have now been a Superintendent for 25 years and it has always been the case that the players who score well are the ones who think the greens are spot on and those that score poorly think that the greens are no good. But I digress. The Stimpmeter is a much maligned piece of equipment that was introduced by the USGA after a fellow by the name of Ed Stimpson had developed it to be able to quantify greens on a golf course. It was intended to assist in attaining consistency throughout a golf courses greens and allow Superintendents the opportunity to vary the maintenance of their greens to try and achieve consistency. Unfortunately it has become a real pain as golfers hear of the ridiculous target speed of 14 feet for the recent US Open for example, and want that for their own course. I have played greens that I have personally measured at 13 feet and believe me for the average golfer they are almost unplayable. Put that sort of speed on our River greens with their undulations and they would be unplayable. The following is taken from the “Stimpmeter Instruction Booklet”;
“Stimpmeter Readings on American golf courses generally range from 7 feet to 12 feet, depending on many factors (e.g. Slope, Contours, Green Size, Grasses, Weather, Budgets etc.). Experience shows that trying to keep the speed above 10 feet on a consistent basis usually causes difficult-to-manage turf problems and is not recommended.”
The effect of wind and slope is most important when considering your target speeds and that is evidenced by The Open Championship wanting speeds of 10 feet for the entire week and if you looked at the greens at Royal St Georges last week, they ran quite well.
Be all that as it may, I decided to measure the greens this morning (which is something I do fairly regularly for my own information) and to publicise the figures here. The most important aspect of using the Stimpmeter is to take your recordings on a flat section of green which is not an easy task on either of our courses. So the numbers from this morning were the 10th West green which was running at 11 feet exactly and the 4th River Green which was at 9 feet 4 inches. There was too much play elsewhere to get any other readings but as I said finding a flat area is a real challenge at Cool Tweed anyway. For example it would be absolutely impossible to get a reading on West greens 2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16,or 18 and on River greens 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17 or 18 due to the slopes.
I once heard a saying (obviously from a Superintendent) that "It's about time we put the GREEN back in to greenspeed". Amen!!
It was nice yesterday when a fellow Gold Coast Superintendent played at Cool Tweed and complimented the quality of the River greens for this time of year and said that he would gladly swap them for his.