Putting at the US Open

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Dear Frank,
 
I really enjoy your column and the information you provide to all of us. I have also read your book Just Hit It and I think it is a book every serious golfer needs to read.
 
Now for my question and knowing that you introduced the Stimpmeter. How fast must my putter head be moving to strike the ball 15 feet on a green measuring 6 feet on the Stimpmeter? Then, how much slower must I swing for the same length putt but when the speed of the green has increased to 15 feet on the Stimpmeter?
 
' Jerry

 
Jerry, Thank you so much for the kind comments and reference to Just Hit It.
 
First, let me tell you that in 1976 when I was the Technical Director at the U.S. Golf Association I was asked to design a device to measure the speed of greens. Three of my designs I found were too cumbersome and operator dependent so I reverted back to a simple concept designed by Ed Stimpson in 1935. After a redesign I introduced it to golf in 1977 and out of respect for Ed Stimpsons design concept, I called it the Stimpmeter.
 
In 1977 the green section agronomists measured green speeds in 35 states and when analyzed I found that the average green speed for regular private club play was 6' 6'. At that time we considered a 10 to 11 foot green to be appropriately fast for most U.S. Open and major competition courses. The speed should be adjusted down for greens with significant undulations. This will allow most of the green to be used for hole locations instead of isolated flat spots.
 
I dont know why you would be interested in green speeds of 15 feet unless you are a pro and have qualified for the US Open this year at Bethpage Black!
 
Last time the USGA held the Open at this course the greens ran about 13 feet for the first three days and increased to about 15 feet on Sunday. This year the greens will be 14 feet and may increase from there on Sunday if the weather holds. This is one of the few US Open courses, which can handle very fast greens simply because most of them are relatively flat.
 
With the help of a friend, Martin Brouillette, I do have some reasonably good answers to your questions. First I am going to assume that you have a very good putter such as a Frankly Frog (see www.franklygolf.com)with a head weight is 350 grams ' about average for most of todays putters.
 
For a 15 foot putt, and a green speed stimping at 6 feet, you will need a putter head speed of approximately 4.6 mph. For the same length putt but a very fast green stimping at 15ft you will need a putter head speed of about 2.6 mph.
 
I am sure this will help if you have a speedometer on your putter, otherwise just slow down when you are putting on faster greens, which are also going to break more than slower greens.
 
I am sure this will help if you have a speedometer on your putter ' not provided with the Frankly Frog ' otherwise just slow down when you are putting on faster greens, which are also going to break more than slower greens.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Frank
 

Using Old Golf Balls

Frank,
 
I was cleaning out my garage and found some new/unused old golf balls. Some might be 10 years old or more. Are these as good now as when I got them? When should I just throw them out?
 
--Bill

 
Bill, Those new (old) balls you found in the garage are probably in reasonable good shape for most golfers. The shelf life does depend on the construction and whether or not they have been exposed to high humidity and high temperatures.
 
As far as the construction is concerned; if these balls are more than eight years old and of a wound construction they will have a lower shelf life than todays balls ' all balls today are of a two, three, or even four-piece construction which means that they have a solid core(s) and a mantle and/or a soft or hard cover.
 
A wound ball which is approximately 10 years old, stored at room temperatures and low humidity, will have lost about 0.5 to 1.0 % of its IV (Initial Velocity) which will affect its distance by a couple of yards. This is not important to most of us because our drivers are a little less than 200 yards on average most of us think our average drive is equivalent to our longest drives and thus overestimate our average driving distance by about 30 to 40 yards. Along with this overestimate, is the range in distance of our straight drives which is about +/- 10% or more of the intended target distance.
 
Our drives are generally between 180 yards and 220 so a couple of yards, because of an older ball will be difficult to recognize ' but lets not have anything, even two yards, get in the way of that perfect drive.
 
When it comes to the solid core balls, these should be good for at least five or more years without too much degradation, as long as they have not been exposed to extraordinary conditions, i.e. high humidity or high temperatures. A pond is not considered a low humidity environment but a garage may fit into this category.
 
The other thing to remember is that the solid core balls will, in general have a higher IV to begin with and have less spin off the driver and as a result will go farther than the wound balls. Most of us have been using solid balls for at least ten years.
 
Bottom line is if you intend to enter a serious tournament ' your club championship or maybe the U.S. Open ' then buy a new sleeve (or dozen) of the balls which best suit your game. If not, save your money and use the solid core balls you found in your garage and put the wound balls in the shag bag.
 
Stay on the ball. Frank
 
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Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank Thomas