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How drastically does slope effect green speed? More than you even think…

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As a golf instructor, I am a huge fan of Aimpoint for certain types of players since it gives some type of basic validity to what they see with their eyes. For more feel-orientated players, Aimpoint would be great to use in practice, but maybe not on the course. For those of us who struggle reading greens, I would suggest you try it. It’s not as technical as it used to be and the teachers teaching it in today are some of the best putting coaches in the business.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about an Aimpoint chart I saw regarding uphill vs downhill slope of the same percentage; it was eye-opening to say the least. For whoever posted it on Twitter (I cannot seem to find it again) please let me say THANK YOU and I am sorry I did not quote you personally in this article. Here is the chart:

Now to put the green speeds in perspective, 8 would be the speed of your average municipal course during the high summer peak play season (so the greens won’t get stressed and die), 10 would be the speed of a high quality private golf course in the United States, and 12 on the stimp is basically the speeds that the Tour players see at the Majors.

We know the speeds, now let’s examine what a 1 percent slope means to us in the real world. For that, I have asked one of the best Aimpoint guys around, John Graham, to describe this in more “normal” detail to us…

“A 2 percent slope is where holes are normally cut for your average pin location, while a 1 percent slope would be what you would perceive as basically a flat putt. The 3 percent slope is one that you almost see as a tough, but makeable, breaking putt and the 4 percent is one where you are uncomfortable and basically playing defense, trying to two putt at all costs.”

The creator of Aimpoint, Mark Sweeney said, “What people need to understand is the green is still stimping at the same number but the slope increases the overall roll to the estimated amounts. Thankfully the average green is only sloped 2 percent from back-to-front!”

From this description and the speed information above, this chart makes it even more understandable as to how slow or fast greens can get when you are playing. This does NOT consider the wind or grain which can also add or subtract speed from putts as well.

Therefore, the next time you are on the putting green, take the time to remember this chart and have some fun practicing your uphill and downhill breaking putts and see if you can fine tune your feel a touch better!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. ogo

    Jul 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Slope shmope….. just aim straight at the hole and then make a final decision where the break will pull the ball…. then correct for the break and bang away… 😮

  2. steve

    Jul 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Please explain the values shown in the Stimp-Slope table.
    My understanding of ‘stimp’ is that it is measured on a near-level green area. If you measure stimp rolling uphill or downhill it will be different. Also the direction of the grain will alter stimp readings. How about moisture differences?

    • ogo

      Jul 16, 2018 at 12:17 am

      Stinkney only deposits his odor on WRX website and vanishes… to chicken to respond to queries.

    • Al Czervik

      Jul 16, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Yes, stimp is measured on flat(ish) portion of the green and measured in several directions. What he is saying is that if you took a green with x stimp speed and then moved to a sloping section of that green or hopefully any green on that golf course that was consistently maintained, you would see these effective stimp readings. Another way to say it is according to the chart if you were on a green with a 10 stimp, you would need to hit a putt that was 4% downhill approximately half as hard as you would if it were flat to get it to travel the same distance.

  3. Jimmie

    Jul 14, 2018 at 9:35 am

    OMG, fingers and foot feeling? As a senior citizen, I have not felt my feet for years. Go to that expertgreenreading site where there is no need for stimp, fingers or feelings…

  4. SV

    Jul 14, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I understand the point of this article and it makes sense slope has a bigger difference than we might think. I do have a question: How is AimPoint any different than the plumb-bob method I have used for years. Supposedly it is useless, but holding up 1, 2, 3 fingers is better? Help me Tom.

    • steve

      Jul 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      You should asess the slope as you are approaching the green because once you are on the green it is near impossible to determine a gentle slope. Plumb bobbing has no scientific visual validity… it’s only a placebo for ignorance.

  5. The dude

    Jul 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    How do you know what I even think? Just kidding…..this is a really good article. I find it amazing how often pros miss on the low side (my quick math usually comes up with ~ 70% of misses are low…when watching on TV). Playing enough break even for the best in the world is an enigma…

  6. larrybud

    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Good info, although I think about 0.1% of the players I’ve run into know what Stimp is, and everybody always thinks their greens are “running about an 11”. They have no point of reference because they’ve never measured it themselves.

    (by the way, I have, and in fact you can see the design of the Stimp meter online and build one for your own use).

    I think you should expand on this article a bit, using this info to explain why putts break more downhill than uphill.

    • Freddie

      Jul 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Good article. Putts break more when going downhill because they are going slower. That may sound counterintuitive, but you have to putt at a slower pace downhill and let it trickle down towards a hole and the slower the ball is traveling the more gravity will pull it towards the break.

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