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Scourge of Every Golf Course


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#1 BNGL

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 01:12 PM

Just another post showing behind the scenes of golf course setup. A lot of players and television hosts talk about green speeds, they’re rolling 12 foot plus. But chances are most people haven’t experienced a 12, or even know what that number refers too. That number is a measurement made by a device known as a stimp meter, or speed stick.



IMG_1549820624.906732.jpg

IMG_1549820637.790595.jpg

There’s a variety of factors that affect greens speed; mowing height, number of rolls, width of leaf blade, top dressing with proper sized particles. That speed can also vary during the day, most courses will see a decrease in speed as the day progresses.

Reducing friction is the most important factor. What that means is shorter mowing heights and shrinking the leaf blade. We do that by withholding water and chemically stunting the growth of the plant with growth regulators. (A side effect of these practices is the ground will typically firm up). Another important factor to consider is top dressing. It is important to use the proper particular size that will penetrate the canopy of the turf and build up on the surface a firm layer that stands the leaf blade up (for a closer cut and reduction of grain).

Mowing heights are typically above .100 (1/10 of an inch). Although for tournaments I have gone below .085 for the tournament proper. Right now we’re mowing at .115, but regular checks with a prism show that our effective mowing heights are closer .105. If grain is becoming too much of an issue, we will use groomers to further stand up the leafblades. Our top dressing is performed weekly during our course closures and then rolled into the greens to ensure it gets below the surface.

Those two pictures show our greens speeds from the morning. 12 feet 8 inches, which in my opinion is way too fast. Green speeds need to be matched to the level of player on the course that day, and needless to say we don’t have daily PGA Tour play. The one thing that matters is a true roll, and I could have the greens rolling as well at 9.5 as I do at 12-13, but the membership wants fast greens and they dictate my pay!


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#2 br61

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 01:26 PM

12' 8'? Wow, that's really quick. I'll bet lot of golfers playing on your greens would say they're rolling at 14-15.

Do you think most golfers usually overestimate the speed of the greens they play on? I do. All I care is playing on healthy greens with true roll as you mentioned. It helps having a good superintendent that knows what he is doing.

Keep it up, I enjoy your topics.
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#3 jvincent

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 01:48 PM

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 01:12 PM, said:


Those two pictures show our greens speeds from the morning. 12 feet 8 inches, which in my opinion is way too fast. Green speeds need to be matched to the level of player on the course that day, and needless to say we don’t have daily PGA Tour play. The one thing that matters is a true roll, and I could have the greens rolling as well at 9.5 as I do at 12-13, but the membership wants fast greens and they dictate my pay!

Holy Cow!  Is your membership a bunch of scratch / plus handicaps? I hope you greens don't have any big slopes at that speed.

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#4 raynorfan1

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 02:19 PM

Is the ďscourgeĒ referenced in the title the members who confuse speed and quality?

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#5 jvincent

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 03:35 PM

I think the "scourge" is the stimpmeter.

Once people started to hear about numbers then they had to have their greens running at a specific speed. "Fast" wasn't good enough.


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#6 BNGL

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 03:49 PM

View Postbr61, on 10 February 2019 - 01:26 PM, said:

12' 8'? Wow, that's really quick. I'll bet lot of golfers playing on your greens would say they're rolling at 14-15.

Do you think most golfers usually overestimate the speed of the greens they play on? I do. All I care is playing on healthy greens with true roll as you mentioned. It helps having a good superintendent that knows what he is doing.

Keep it up, I enjoy your topics.

Yes absolutely golfers tend to overestimate the speed. Purely because lots of people simply don’t know.

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#7 BNGL

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 03:51 PM

View Postjvincent, on 10 February 2019 - 01:48 PM, said:

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 01:12 PM, said:


Those two pictures show our greens speeds from the morning. 12 feet 8 inches, which in my opinion is way too fast. Green speeds need to be matched to the level of player on the course that day, and needless to say we don’t have daily PGA Tour play. The one thing that matters is a true roll, and I could have the greens rolling as well at 9.5 as I do at 12-13, but the membership wants fast greens and they dictate my pay!

Holy Cow!  Is your membership a bunch of scratch / plus handicaps? I hope you greens don't have any big slopes at that speed.

Lmfao no. It’s a bunch of septuagenarians with lots of money. They ask for 12s because the other clubs they belong to maintain that speed. (Augusta, Medalist, Seminole, Olympic, Oakmont etc). These greens aren’t good their games, knee high stinger chips don’t hold too well.



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#8 BNGL

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 03:53 PM

View Postraynorfan1, on 10 February 2019 - 02:19 PM, said:

Is the “scourge” referenced in the title the members who confuse speed and quality?

Nah, referring to the stimp meter. Lots of people don’t know what they are, and what they’re for. It’s not to get the fastest green, but to gauge consistency from green to green.

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#9 CMCSGolf

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 05:31 PM

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 03:53 PM, said:

View Postraynorfan1, on 10 February 2019 - 02:19 PM, said:

Is the “scourge” referenced in the title the members who confuse speed and quality?

Nah, referring to the stimp meter. Lots of people don’t know what they are, and what they’re for. It’s not to get the fastest green, but to gauge consistency from green to green.

I fully agree.  This is a great point and topic.  Very few people actually know what a 12 or 13 rolls like... and they are damn near impossible to putt.  I think this idea is very similar to golfers' estimate of wind.  So many people say the wind was blowing at 40 - 50 mph.  If it were blowing at 50, you wouldn't be able to stand up, let alone golf.   We hear wind speeds and stimp readings on TV and do a poor job tying them to real experiences in our lives because they occur so rarely.

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#10 jvincent

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 07:52 PM

Our club used to post the green speed at the first tee.

I think the fastest I ever remember seeing was 11 and they were crazy. At that speed we have lots of hole positions that can't be used.


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#11 mallrat

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 01:32 AM

BNGL, how quick did you get the hang of stopping the stimp meter as soon as the ball starts rolling. I still fight just lifting it that extra 1/4-1/2Ē from time to time (we call it a vanity stimp when you can watch them keep lifting once the ball is gone.)

Also, how often do you rotate which greens you stimp or where on the green you stimp them at? I said something to my bosses because they always roll the same greens and same spots. 2 of them are pretty good about mixing it up and 3 arenít.

Edited by mallrat, 11 February 2019 - 01:33 AM.


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#12 lchang

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 03:12 AM

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 03:51 PM, said:

View Postjvincent, on 10 February 2019 - 01:48 PM, said:

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 01:12 PM, said:

Those two pictures show our greens speeds from the morning. 12 feet 8 inches, which in my opinion is way too fast. Green speeds need to be matched to the level of player on the course that day, and needless to say we don’t have daily PGA Tour play. The one thing that matters is a true roll, and I could have the greens rolling as well at 9.5 as I do at 12-13, but the membership wants fast greens and they dictate my pay!

Holy Cow!  Is your membership a bunch of scratch / plus handicaps? I hope you greens don't have any big slopes at that speed.

Lmfao no. It’s a bunch of septuagenarians with lots of money. They ask for 12s because the other clubs they belong to maintain that speed. (Augusta, Medalist, Seminole, Olympic, Oakmont etc). These greens aren’t good their games, knee high stinger chips don’t hold too well.

Can't speak for the others, but Olympic sure as hell doesn't keep the greens that fast!  (When we're not hosting the US Open, that is!)

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#13 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 04:02 AM

View Postlchang, on 11 February 2019 - 03:12 AM, said:

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 03:51 PM, said:

View Postjvincent, on 10 February 2019 - 01:48 PM, said:

View PostBNGL, on 10 February 2019 - 01:12 PM, said:

Those two pictures show our greens speeds from the morning. 12 feet 8 inches, which in my opinion is way too fast. Green speeds need to be matched to the level of player on the course that day, and needless to say we don’t have daily PGA Tour play. The one thing that matters is a true roll, and I could have the greens rolling as well at 9.5 as I do at 12-13, but the membership wants fast greens and they dictate my pay!

Holy Cow!  Is your membership a bunch of scratch / plus handicaps? I hope you greens don't have any big slopes at that speed.

Lmfao no. It’s a bunch of septuagenarians with lots of money. They ask for 12s because the other clubs they belong to maintain that speed. (Augusta, Medalist, Seminole, Olympic, Oakmont etc). These greens aren’t good their games, knee high stinger chips don’t hold too well.

Can't speak for the others, but Olympic sure as hell doesn't keep the greens that fast!  (When we're not hosting the US Open, that is!)

Our target for the day is 11 feet 6 to 12, if I had my way I’d knock it down a foot. Yesterdays 12 feet 8, is the result of mowing, double rolling, high winds, and low humidity. Obviously our agronomic plans put some oomph in the greens, but the breeze and lower humidity dried things out which gave us an extra 8 inches I’d reckon. If I remember correctly we were 12 feet 1 inch on Saturday morning.



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#14 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 04:12 AM

View Postmallrat, on 11 February 2019 - 01:32 AM, said:

BNGL, how quick did you get the hang of stopping the stimp meter as soon as the ball starts rolling. I still fight just lifting it that extra 1/4-1/2” from time to time (we call it a vanity stimp when you can watch them keep lifting once the ball is gone.)

Also, how often do you rotate which greens you stimp or where on the green you stimp them at? I said something to my bosses because they always roll the same greens and same spots. 2 of them are pretty good about mixing it up and 3 aren’t.

About a day. It’s just tedious task to perform as you know. We mix up greens daily but we’ll always try to do the same greens and spots because then we know the gains or loses we see daily with rolling or mowing.

IMG_1549876201.530739.jpg

This picture is from January I believe and it records the speed green that was measured for the day and what we did (roll, cut, top dress etc).

The USGA is rolling out a new initiative to increase quality of green speeds at every level by recording every GD thing done to greens so that they can study what makes greens fast and true and has the most effect, so that lower level clubs can implement the same plans. Speed is a luxury because we have the crew to double cut, double roll, water with hoses etc.

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#15 mallrat

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 09:19 AM

One thing that has always been a joke to me is green speeds. My first boss who is a younger super that has become pretty well known up here in the PNW is a huge believer in a taller HOC with healthier turf will play better than a lower HOC with stressed out turf. When I worked with him our lowest HOC was .135 and people always thought the greens were around an 11 or 12 because of how true the ball would roll when in reality they were actually a 9 maybe pushing a 10 somedays. But the turf was so healthy that the Poa greens stayed true all day and never got stressed out enough to really produce seed heads in the summer. Taught me a lot about green speeds.


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#16 third-times-a-charm

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 10:34 AM

Our greens are fast right now as the API prep is underway.

So much fun.
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#17 Chrismydawg

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 12:05 PM

View Postthird-times-a-charm, on 11 February 2019 - 10:34 AM, said:

Our greens are fast right now as the API prep is underway.

So much fun.

Saw Crossfield and the boys were out there recently.

Maybe Tiger can win #9.

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#18 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 02:51 PM

View Postthird-times-a-charm, on 11 February 2019 - 10:34 AM, said:

Our greens are fast right now as the API prep is underway.

So much fun.

Yeah tournament week there I saw the fastest consistent numbers I have ever seen. I was with Bland Cooper PGA Tour Agronomist getting speeds checking on things etc. and we were on 10 and the ball never stopped it just rolled right off the front edge and down into the approach. We had a cold temps that week, even a light frost on Tuesday night Wednesday morning and Wednesday night into Thursday morning. But as soon as that ball left the chute on the meter, Bland looked over and laughed and said, ‚Äúsingle roll please from now on‚ÄĚ

We ended getting 14 plus on the back nine Tuesday night which is absolutely ridiculous. But man they were pure.

Edited by BNGL, 11 February 2019 - 02:57 PM.


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#19 Almostscratchonce

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 04:50 PM

I'll see your Stimpmeter, and raise you this:
Posted Image

Kidding aside, great topic!

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#20 RSinSG

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 07:15 PM

I remember playing Oak Valley in Beaumont, CA one morning the day after they hosted an State Open qualifier or similar qualifying tournament. The greens were stupid fast for my skill level. Both my son and I had four putt greens and we putted the ball off of the green a couple of times. It got to be silly golf.

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#21 LeoLeo99

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 07:37 PM

I've played 11-12 stimp greens and like RSinSG, it wasn't pretty.  I'm not real good at reading uphill or downhill, especially downhill on those tricky greens where everything breaks towards some landmark being the only way to tell if it's downhill.  Misread a green when it's 11 or 12 and comical things can happen.

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#22 Matt J

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:03 PM

I made my own stimpmeter a few years ago using the tray from a bike rack.  Rather than having the nifty hole that would drop the ball at the right height I would measure the height then release the ball from a stand still.  Not perfect but pretty close I think.

I measured all the local practice greens and the fastest one was 8.5 feet, most were around 6.5.

Guys are always saying, that's gotta be 11 when I bet it's maybe 9.

I've played a few tournaments where they rolled at 10.5 and faster and people blow up.  4 and 5 putts to pins with slope.

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#23 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:38 PM

View PostMatt J, on 11 February 2019 - 08:03 PM, said:

I made my own stimpmeter a few years ago using the tray from a bike rack.  Rather than having the nifty hole that would drop the ball at the right height I would measure the height then release the ball from a stand still.  Not perfect but pretty close I think.

I measured all the local practice greens and the fastest one was 8.5 feet, most were around 6.5.

Guys are always saying, that's gotta be 11 when I bet it's maybe 9.

I've played a few tournaments where they rolled at 10.5 and faster and people blow up.  4 and 5 putts to pins with slope.

Interesting I like the ambition!

Speed sticks are designed as a standard measuring device and are near ubiquitous golf clubs, it’s just whether or not it gets used. Speed sticks drop the ball at 20 degrees, where the ball will exit with a consistent repeatable velocity of 6 feet per second when done correctly.



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#24 augustgolf

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:39 PM

No doubt, fast greens will definitely separate the players from the poseurs.

Want to "equalize" the field? Make the greens shaggy/hairy. Even El Tigre doesn't put well on greens where you gotta slug the ball as opposed to stroke
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#25 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:44 PM

View PostLeoLeo99, on 11 February 2019 - 07:37 PM, said:

I've played 11-12 stimp greens and like RSinSG, it wasn't pretty.  I'm not real good at reading uphill or downhill, especially downhill on those tricky greens where everything breaks towards some landmark being the only way to tell if it's downhill.  Misread a green when it's 11 or 12 and comical things can happen.

I’d bet you’re better than you give yourself credit for.

The trick is a delicate touch on the putter. Here’s what I do to check...

Take your stance and address the ball with your putter. Have a partner stand directly in front of your chest. Raise the putter so it’s pointing at your partners chest, he should be able to slide the putter from your hands with no effort at all. Most often players have a death grip on the stick and lack the feel required for speedy greens.


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#26 Big Ben

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 08:59 PM

We actually see a lot of extremely fast club greens here in Northeast Ohio. When they get above 10 you truly need to adjust your game accordingly. Itís amazing how far a missed putt or chip can run out above 11. These northern bent grass greens can get pretty darn speedy when the time of year and conditions are right. BB

Edited by Big Ben, 11 February 2019 - 08:59 PM.

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#27 mallrat

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 10:19 PM

The problem comes in when the speeds donít match the contours of the greens. We have very subtle greens on our private course which has no problem handling a 13 but the members arenít generally good enough for those speeds. We try and keep them between 11-12 with the public course .5-1 behind. Mainly because the members like the ego side of saying their greens are faster.

Matt J when you come up we can compare your homemade stimp to the ones we use.

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#28 Mudguard

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 10:29 PM

Or you have greens that are too slow. Ours probably stimp less than 8 and usually much slower. We have putts that will stop halfway down tiers. Same with chip or pitch shots that you try and bank off slopes, they'll just stay there. I reckon one of the hardest putts in golf is a slow putt down a tier.

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#29 Matt J

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 10:39 PM

View PostBNGL, on 11 February 2019 - 08:38 PM, said:

View PostMatt J, on 11 February 2019 - 08:03 PM, said:

I made my own stimpmeter a few years ago using the tray from a bike rack.  Rather than having the nifty hole that would drop the ball at the right height I would measure the height then release the ball from a stand still.  Not perfect but pretty close I think.

I measured all the local practice greens and the fastest one was 8.5 feet, most were around 6.5.

Guys are always saying, that's gotta be 11 when I bet it's maybe 9.

I've played a few tournaments where they rolled at 10.5 and faster and people blow up.  4 and 5 putts to pins with slope.

Interesting I like the ambition!

Speed sticks are designed as a standard measuring device and are near ubiquitous golf clubs, itís just whether or not it gets used. Speed sticks drop the ball at 20 degrees, where the ball will exit with a consistent repeatable velocity of 6 feet per second when done correctly.

I have a digital level that I used to set the angle and then it is a certain distance, I don't remember the exact details, but I researched it extensively.

Funny, I did it to test my rug because I thought that putting on my carpet was training me to hit it too hard.

I'd bet it's within a half of a foot.  I'll try and remember to bring it when I come up mallrat.

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#30 BNGL

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 11:04 PM

View Postaugustgolf, on 11 February 2019 - 08:39 PM, said:

No doubt, fast greens will definitely separate the players from the poseurs.

Want to "equalize" the field? Make the greens shaggy/hairy. Even El Tigre doesn't put well on greens where you gotta slug the ball as opposed to stroke

I’d agree with that. Besides there’s far more movement in a stroke for slower greens than faster ones.



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