New USGA Stimpmeter Shines in Anodized Blue

Day Tool & Mfg. in Whitehouse, NJ and B&M Finishers in Kenilworth, NJ work to get the blue anodized look just right.


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It may just be the most hated piece of milled and anodized aluminum known to man, but the U.S. Golf Association’s device to measure green speed – the “Stimpmeter” – has received a new makeover, new design and new color coating.

The USGA announced in January that a new design and configuration of the device used by golf course superintendents was being launched, much to the chagrin of weekend hackers who often complain about greens being too fast or too slow.

The Stimpmeter, offered by the USGA to golf courses, allows superintendents, agronomists and course officials to accurately measure the speed of greens and provide more consistent playing conditions.

For the first time since its initial release in 1978, the USGA updated the Stimpmeter. They say the new version allows for greater flexibility in measuring green speed, especially on undulating surfaces that have smaller areas of level turf, a necessity for measuring green speed.

The USGA says they tool works when a ball rolls down the Stimpmeter and along the green, and the average distance traveled by the ball after a number of attempts is the figure that has come to represent the speed of the green.

“As greens have gotten faster, it’s gotten harder to find that necessary length of level surface,” said Dave Oatis, director of the USGA Green Section’s Northeast Region.

To overcome this obstacle, the Green Section worked with Steve Quintavalla, Ph.D., of the USGA Research and Test Center. Quintavalla developed a two-sided Stimpmeter, which has an additional notch that rolls the ball half the distance of the original version. The new side works the same way, but users double the average roll distance to achieve the Stimpmeter reading.

To build the new Stimpmeter, the USGA turned to Judd Callahan at Day Tool & Mfg. in Whitehouse, NJ. Starting last May, Callahan and his company began working on various prototypes, milling several pieces of aluminum in different configurations and letting the brain trust at the USGA test out the settings.

“The basic principle is the same, but there were several tweaks and nuances that they wanted done, so we were able to mill them the prototypes to take back and research,” says Callahan, whose 40-year-old family-owned company designs and manufactures precision tooling, stamping dies, special machines and precision machined parts for customers in the aerospace, biotech, medical, pharmaceutical, packaging, electronic and semi-conductor industries.

When the USGA settled on a design, Callahan worked with B&M Finishers in Kenilworth, NJ to get the blue anodized look just right, which was easier said than done. The blue was supposed to match the color of the USGA logo, but it took several variations for the gold association to decide on the perfect shade.

The USGA does not sell the Stimpmeter to the general public, so special security precautions had to be in place to protect the devices. When the new design was announced, publications from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times pounced on the story and perception behind the device.

Callahan, though, said it’s just another hunk of aluminum that he and his company are milling each day.

“You never know who or what will walk through that door,” he says.


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