As part of our normal maintenance at Colleton River Club, we measure green speeds daily with a Stimpmeter and post them in the golf shop. Used on a level portion of the green, this tool is designed to release a golf ball from an inclined plane at a consistent height. Taking the average distance in feet of three balls rolled in opposing directions determines the Stimpmeter reading, or green speed. At higher green speeds, more caution is required when putting. In 1978 the USGA adopted the use of the Stimpmeter to provide consistency throughout their championships.
Along with knowing how fast the greens are putting, Stimpmeter readings and surface firmness measurements are tools we use in the agronomy department to help direct maintenance activities. Everything that occurs on a golf course happens in a cyclical pattern. Along with weather, normal sound maintenance practices such as topdressing, grooming, venting, fertilizing, and irrigating all affect green speed and play an important role in producing healthy turf. This week we vented and topdressed the Nicklaus Course greens to address the surface firmness. Immediately following these procedures, the green speeds temporarily take a back seat to the agronomy practices that are required to sustain the playing conditions we all desire. Knowing the speed limit, by prioritizing and managing these steps in a thoughtful, calculated approach is the key to sustaining good conditions. Next time you are in the golf shop and notice the green speed in the tens, consider what the agronomy team is doing to improve the turf health and achieve the consistently smooth and fast greens we have become accustomed to.