After Francis Ouimet, Brookline gave us another key piece of golf lore
The greatest match in Brookline history ended in a Francis Ouimet victory. The most impactful one? Well, that might have ended in a Ouimet loss.
It was then, in the early 1930s, that Ouimet found himself teamed with Ted Ray — his 1913 U.S. Open sparring partner — in a four-ball match. His opponent? A Harvard-educated banker (and fellow member at The Country Club) by the name of Edward Stimpson.
Stimpson was a burgeoning amateur himself, a tough-as-nails competitor who had earned a reputation as one of the best players in the state. Though neither player knew it, their match would serve as a launching off point for the banker’s starring role in golf history.
Years later, in ’35, Stimpson was a spectator at Oakmont for Sam Park Jr.’s controversial U.S. Open win. He saw from up close how Park Jr. — a Pittsburgh club pro who’d played the course daily in the lead-up to the Open — used his knowledge of green speeds to earn a considerable advantage over the remainder of the field.
Less than a year after Park Jr.’s win, Stimpson unveiled the solution: a yardstick with a groove chiseled down the center. He called it the “Stimpmeter,” and said it would provide a foolproof method of calculating green speeds across every course in the world.
To get a “reading,” a person would hold the yardstick at 20 degrees and roll the ball down the center groove. Then, that person would measure the distance the ball traveled until reaching a stop. The goal was to take six such readings from various points on the putting surface.
If the average of the six measurements was 10 feet, the “Stimp reading” for the hole was a 10, and so on.
At this June’s U.S. Open, the Stimpmeter will once again take center stage at the toughest test in golf. In Brookline, Stimpson’s old home club will rely heavily upon his creation to ensure consistency on the greens throughout tournament week.
Nearly a century later, the legend of Edward Stimpson lives on in every maintenance shed of every course around the world. The details of his match with Ouimet, however, do not. Stimpson won, but the rest remains a mystery — a footprint in the sands of time.
How big is that footprint? At The Country Club, it rolls close to a 12.