It was designed by golfer Edward Stimpson, Sr. in 1935. The Massachusetts state amateur champion, Stimpson was a spectator at that year's U.S. Open at Oakmont. After watching a putt by a top professional (Gene Sarazen) roll off a green, Stimpson was convinced the greens were unreasonably fast, but wondered how he could prove it. He developed a device, now known as the Stimpmeter, which is an angled track that releases a ball at a known velocity so that the distance it rolls on a green's surface can be measured. Although the original device was made of wood, in 1976 it was redesigned from aluminum by Frank Thomas of the United States Golf Association (USGA). It was first used by the USGA during the 1976 U.S. Open at Atlanta and made available to golf course superintendents in 1978. The official USGA stimpmeter (painted green) is not sold to the public.
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