The topic of green speeds is always at the forefront of the golfing public. Below is an article that includes comments from Dr. Michel Hurdzan, the architect of the US Open site Erin Hills and the architect for our red and blue nines at NCC. A long read but helpful to all.
In the race to faster greens, caution signs abound Mike StachuraMajor championship venues are defined by lightning greens, but at your local course, they're a recipe for trouble.
There is some measure of irony that the very device that was designed to control green speeds has largely been responsible for making them seem a lot closer to pool tables than putting surfaces.
The Stimpmeter, invented in the 1930s but not made standard practice by the USGA until the 1970s, is a yardstick-like trough that releases a ball on a green through gravity to measure greenspeed in feet of roll. When it was initially devised by noted Massachusetts amateur Edward V. Stimpson more than 80 years ago, his concern was that greens, particularly at 1935 U.S. Open-venue Oakmont, had simply become too fast. While Stimpson never measured Oakmont back in the day, experts believe those slippery surfaces would have likely been “stimping” at about a 5. Last year, the greens at Oakmont on Sunday of the U.S. Open were close to triple that speed.
Now, every level of the game—from players to superintendents and turf scientists to golf course architects and rule makers—lies seduced by the Stimpmeter as some measure of excellence rather than a regulating guide. That unintended distortion seems almost a kind of battle between progress and panic, as it gets easier and easier to make greens faster and faster, and harder and harder to say enough is enough.
Even the head of the USGA is urging all of golf to slow down while at the same time talking about how important it is for the greens at the U.S. Open to be an unrelenting challenge built on speed.
“When you get the greens to a certain speed they almost come alive architecturally to where if you miss a green, you may have to play a contour,” Davis said when referring to the plan at Erin Hills, where the greens will be set up to roll at what he called “average U.S. Open speed, maybe even a little faster than typical U.S. Open speed.” Over the last 20 years, U.S. Open speed has gone from speeds in the mid-10s to the high 14s last year. To be fair, green speeds vary with the course. They were 14 at Bethpage Black in 2009, but only 11.5 at Pebble Beach the next year. Still, as an example, in the three U.S. Opens played at Pinehurst No. 2, the projected speed went from 10.5-11 in 1999 to 11-11.5 in 2005 to 12.5 in 2014.