Word of the week: Stimp-rating


Pronunciation: /stimp-rey-ting/


What I think it means:


What could a stimp mean? There’s nothing to compare it to in the natural world – Stamp? Stump? Stomp?


So if someone tells me that a course has got a good ’stimp-rating’, my mind is going to turn to the only vague reference I can think of – the 1990’s Nickelodeon cartoon Ren and Stimpy.


In the cult cartoon, Stimpy was (apparently) a cat, despite looking nothing like one. And I mean nothing like a cat.


A cat…



He’s also good-natured, if a little dull.


So here we go: A stimp-rating is a way of measuring golf courses, based upon an obscure American cartoon from the 1990’s.

A course with a high stimp-rating is one which professes to be one kind of course, despite looking nothing like it, in the way that Stimpy is apparently a cat, despite looking more like a jelly-bean.

I’m thinking a tree-lined links course or a parkland course filled with pot bunkers and hard, undulating fairways. This confusion of styles means the designer may have meant well, but the lack of a defined style means the course can not distinguish it as an outstanding layout.


Surely that has to be it, right? Golfers frequently base phrases upon a random cartoon their kids were watching 24 years ago, don’t they?


Dictionary definition:


Stimpmeter is a piece of equipment used to measure the speed of a green by applying a known force to the ball and measuring the distance travelled. Stimpmeters are often very low tech devices, a three foot ramp with a groove down the centre, along which the ball rolls down on to the green.


The farther the ball rolls, the faster the greens.


Therefore a stimp rating of 10 means a golf ball rolled 10 feet after being released from the ramp. A roll of eight feet will see a stimp rating of 8.





It turns out ’Stimp’ doesn’t relate to any established word because it comes from a name.

The Stimpmeter was invented in 1935 by Edward Stimpson, the 1935 Massachussets Amateur champion.


At the US Open at Oakmont, golfers were struggling due to the varying speeds of the greens, meaning some shots were coming up short, while others were flying way past. Stimpson realized a device for measuring green speeds was required, to allow all green keepers to achieve consistency throughout their course.


Despite its seemingly-obvious benefits, the Stimpmeter was not officially adopted by the USGA until 1978.


Use it in a sentence:


“I asked the greenkeeper and he said the greens are really fast today, they’ve got a stimp rating of 13.”


What this actually means:


Differing green speeds are going to have a big difference on your putting, and do make for interesting reads. But unless you’re an elite player, all the stimp ratings in the world aren’t going to make any difference – it’s just going to be a case of playing a few holes and getting a feel of the green, I’m afraid.


Still, I learnt something new today, so that’s good.

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