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Measurement. Playability 1

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Javier Méndez Lorente
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Table of contents: Measurement. Playability 1

Have you ever wondered what makes the golfing experience truly unique and satisfying? It's all in the details, and at Tiloom we know that. Not only does our company offer a wide range of state-of-the-art measuring devices, but we also provide customised measurement services to ensure that every green is in optimal condition. The most important variables related to playability are listed below:

Speed

Green speed is a crucial parameter that determines the quality of greens on golf courses. This measurement is fundamental to ensure a consistent and fair playing experience for both amateur and professional players and is an indispensable standard in the management and maintenance of high quality golf courses.

Measuring the speed of a Green

Speed categoryClub members Professional players.Professional players. Tournaments
Slow4.56.5
Medium-slow5.57.5
Medium6.58.5
Medium-light7.59.5
Quick8.510.5

The Stimpmeter is an essential tool for measuring the speed of greens on golf courses. It consists of a 91.44 centimetre long (36 inches) extruded aluminium bar, designed with a 145-degree "V" notch along both sides. This bar features two notches: the "1X" notch, located 76.2 centimetres (30 inches) from the base, is the standard length used in most tests; and the "2X" notch, located 35.56 centimetres (14 inches) from the base, is used for measurements in tighter areas of the putting green where a long shot is not possible.

To make an accurate measurement, a horizontal area of the green should be chosen that is wide enough to allow the ball to roll approximately 4 metres without going off the green.

From the "1X" notch, three balls are dropped by tilting the Stimpmeter from horizontal to reach an angle of 20 degrees, allowing the ball to start rolling smoothly. A tee is placed at the point where each ball stops. The procedure is repeated from the point where the balls initially stopped, launching them again in the original direction. The six results obtained are recorded and the average is calculated, which represents the speed of the green.

In cases where the standard length is not available, the notch "2X" is used and the result obtained is multiplied by two to obtain an equivalent measurement.

Rolling

Just as important as speed in determining green quality is roll, a fundamental characteristic that directly influences playability. Roll can be measured through the vertical (smoothness) and horizontal (trueness) deviation of the ball as it travels around the green. These deviations are measurable parameters that reflect the green's ability to provide consistent and predictable ball roll.

Vertical deviation, or smoothness, measures the smoothness of the green. A green with good smoothness will allow the ball to roll without bouncing or sudden interruptions, which is essential for maintaining accurate control when putting. On the other hand, the horizontal deviation, or trueness, evaluates the green's ability to maintain the trajectory of the ball without lateral deviations. A high trueness ensures that the ball follows a straight line into the hole, thus improving accuracy of play.

The factors that cause these deviations are varied and can be natural or induced by the use and maintenance of the course. Non-uniformity can originate from the nature of the greens themselves, such as variations in turf growth. Player activities and the use of machinery also affect the rolling. Player footprints and divots left by balls can create irregularities in the surface. In addition, agronomic activities, such as mowing, spiking and verticutting, although necessary for green maintenance, can temporarily alter the uniformity of the surface. Animal droppings, fallen leaves and other debris can create obstacles in the path of the ball.

Parry Meter

Electronic measuring systems

Currently, there are two advanced electronic means for accurate assessment of green roll, providing essential data to maintain golf course quality.

  • On the one hand, the Sport Turf Research Institute (STRI) developed the "Greens Trueness Meter", a patented system which, although not for commercial purposes, is widely used in golf course maintenance consultancy. This device accurately measures both vertical (smoothness) and horizontal (trueness) millimetre deviations of the ball as it rolls over the green, allowing a detailed and accurate assessment of the surface quality.
Greens Trueness Meter
  • On the other hand, Karl Askins-Parry developed the Parry Metera measurement system that has become widespread in the industry due to its accessibility and ease of use. Unlike the Greens Trueness Meter, the Parry Meter is a widely available commercial device used by golf course maintenance professionals around the world. This instrument also measures vertical and horizontal millimetre deviations, providing crucial data that helps greenkeepers identify and correct irregularities on the green.
CategoryD. HorizontalD. VerticalParry Meter Qualification
Pay and Play>45>50*
General Game35-4540-50**
Golf Club Members25-3530-40***
Tournaments20-2525-30****
Championships<20<25*****

The use of these devices is simple and objective, ensuring consistent measurements regardless of the technician performing the test. To begin, the device is placed on the ground of the green and set up using the measuring software. This software allows a number of crucial data to be entered, such as turf height, average moisture, speed and green firmness, among other parameters. This data is essential for accurate comparisons and reliable results.

Once set up, the instrument is left on the ground and pushed gently over the turf, walking at a steady pace. This movement should be made in different directions along the surface of the green to ensure a complete and accurate assessment of the entire area, and the measurement is considered complete once the entire surface of the green has been traversed in multiple directions, following the walking speed indicated by the system.

Analogue measurement systems

Analogue measurements in golf are based on the launch of standardised golf balls to assess the roll of the green. The most popular tools and methods used in these measurements are described below:

  • Greenstester and the "Holing Out Test".This method uses a curved ramp from which 10 golf balls are dropped in the direction of the hole. The number of balls that end up in the cup is recorded, aiming for a maximum of 10/10. The more balls that reach the target, the better the roll is considered.
  • Greenstester and Spread TestTotal distance travelled by the ball, including any lateral deviations, is measured in this test. This method provides a more detailed assessment of the roll by considering not only the distance travelled in a straight line, but also lateral deviations, which helps to more accurately determine the quality of the green.
Greenstester
  • Stimpmeter and the Bobble TestThis method requires no instrumentation other than the stimpmeter. It is performed by launching a golf ball onto the green and visually observing the movements of the ball, paying attention to sudden, light or zigzagging bounces. Based on the Sport Turf Research Institute (STRI) scale, a score is given to the roll of the green. This method is useful for obtaining a quick and general assessment of the quality of the green, although its accuracy depends on the subjectivity of the observer.
Result (STRI) Description of Rolling Bobble Test
10Perfect rolling
9Isolated vertical deviation and minimal zigzagging
6Several vertical deviations, some isolated bouncing and zigzagging
4Boats, vertical and horizontal deviations along the route
2Simultaneous horizontal bounces and deviations along the route
Stimpmeter for the Bobble test

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