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On PGA Tour, Weather Insights Make the Difference

posted 2018-09-04T16:32:09 in Case Study

Lightning and flooding are true threats this time of year, especially at En-Joie Golf Course in Endicott, New York, where the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open of the PGA Tour was recently held from August 17-19.

This area of New York State is especially prone to these natural dangers with its towering hilltops and low valleys. Luckily for the pros, DTN, the global premier provider of weather decision support solutions, stationed Stewart Williams and Willis Young, two of their expert meteorologists, on site to monitor conditions with its WeatherSentry Sports Edition with lightning detection and Wet Bulb Globe Temperature technology.

Before the Open had even begun, however, the weather was already not cooperating. Parts of the course were flooded with more than six inches of rain from a 10-day streak of storms, and the entire county was placed under a State of Emergency. This forced pros to miss practice on Tuesday, August 14, and skip the 13th, 14th, and 15th holes of the Pro-Am on Wednesday, August 15, and every additional drop of precipitation would have catastrophic consequences.

With storms remaining in the forecast, DTN’s team found their forecasting more crucial than ever. The tournament was set to tee off that Friday, so Williams and Young provided real-time radar imagery that helped officials determine what windows of time golf course workers had to reverse the damage from flash-flooding.

By the first day of the Open, tensions grew even higher. Though Round One play was able to dodge storms scattered throughout the region, concerns loomed over whether Blake Shelton’s concert at the 18th hole would be able to go on. “The concert is rain or shine. The only thing that stalls it is lightning,” Tournament Director John Karedes told the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin.

With so much on the line, including the safety of spectators and the security of all athletes and staff, the organizers of this stop of the PGA Tour were thankful to have the insights of DTN on the scene to assist in making the right call. “I have helped clients with all aspects of weather, including snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, severe weather, high wind, and flooding,” says Williams. “But lightning can be three to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.”

The next day, Round Two was delayed until 1:00 P.M.–all due to rain. But dry conditions prevailed that Sunday, and thanks to DTN’s Sports & Recreation solutions, instant, real-time weather information and analytics ensured the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open would be as safe as possible for everyone involved.

This wasn’t the first time Willis experienced out-of-the-ordinary weather at a golf tournament. “A tornado actually formed less than a half mile from the golf course and went right through the course during tournament week, causing some damage to tents, trees, and scoreboards,” says Willis. “I’ve also dealt with repeated thunderstorms and flash flooding during a championship event in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We experienced over 11 inches of rain that weekend.”

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