QA Stimpmeter Simplified

By Frank ThomasJuly 11, 2006, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Hi Mr Thomas,
I believe you had something to do with green speed measurement standards. Can you tell me how the green speed is measured what were the green speeds at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot? - George M.

Yes I did have something to do with the Stimpmeter and you can read about it on under Frankly Speaking The Birth of the Stimpmeter. The concept design was to develop a quantitative measure of the speed of greens. Prior to the adoption of this device as an official measure of green speeds it was left to somebodys memory and personal experience about how fast greens should be.

Briefly the device consists of a grooved stick with a notch in it to hold a golf ball. When raised at one end closest to the notch with the other end resting on the surface of the green at a certain point (20 degrees tilt) the ball will release and roll down the groove. It will contact the green with the same kinetic energy every time relying on gravity and the slope of the stick (Stimpmeter). When it reaches the surface of a flat spot on the green it will roll for some distance depending on the speed of the green. This measurement -- in feet -- is measured and reported as the speed of the green.
The speed can be controlled by rolling and also the height of the cut when the green is mowed.
The greens at the U.S. Open this year were right at 12 feet, which is about as fast as they could have been given the undulations of the greens.
The Stimpmeter reading is now the International Standard for measuring green speeds, and I am very proud of this.
Hi Frank,
If I carry less than fourteen clubs, is it legal to change the weights in my driver during a round. - JC, Denver

The answer is NO as you are not allowed to adjust a club during a round. The fact that most of the latest adjustable drivers have four weight ports, the number of different adjustments you can make will be greater than the number of clubs you have in your bag. So even if you were to use the 13 clubs as an excuse to adjust your club you would violate the fourteen club rule.
The rule requires that if a club is designed to be adjustable the adjustment be made with a special tool not normally carried by a golfer, such as a spike wrench or a ball mark repair tool. This is to take temptation away from the golfer making an adjustment during a round.

JC good try but NO.

Do golf balls have a shelf life? Will playing with ball one or two years old, but never hit reduce it performance or distance? -- Thank You, Jack in N.C.

Golf balls do not have a shelf life that you need to worry about.
I say this because balls will deteriorate slower than technology is advancing and even though technology is still moving along very slowly by the time your balls are affected by age (about 15 to 20 years) you may want to look at something with newer technology. The advances that will be made will not be in distance but rather in durability and control and even customizing for specific swing speeds.
This was not the case when we used wound balls but those days are long gone. If you are talking abut wound balls then the modern multi-layered balls have already done you in. Even though the wound balls will deteriorate slower than the new balls the technology has already made these balls obsolete.
With all the hybrids being used these days, why don't major manufactures and component suppliers alike stop offering 3-pw sets and start offering 5-GW sets with the option of hybrids or 3/4 iron, just like a SW or LW that they do now. - Tom Matthews

The main reason is that they have not truly come to terms with the change in set make up and also that they can sell more clubs. A full set, as we knew it -- 2-PW& SW, is now obsolete. If you have to buy this set you need to dump at least three clubs (2- 3- & 4- irons) and replace these with two hybrids and a Gap wedge. Then if you decide you need some more control around the greens with a Lob wedge you may have to dump your 5-wood.
Things will soon change as the set make up will adjust to the trends and those manufacturers who do not shift will not get the business.

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.