Weather delay puts damper on tourament's final round

Sunday, July 5, 2009
A gisn on the eighth hole alerts spectators to a delay in play. Lightning forced about a two-hour delay during Saturday's final round. (Elizabeth Dodd)

Play was halted for about two hours because of lightning.

The final round of the AJGA's Rolex Tournament of Champions was in jeopardy of not finishing Saturday when play was stopped because of inclement weather, causing a delay that lasted nearly two hours.

When it was apparent that a storm was coming, the AJGA and Dalhousie staff, along with local volunteers, rushed in to pick up the golfers and clear them from the course in a matter of minutes.

"Weather moved in and we got them off," AJGA tournament director Andrew Greenfield said.

The AJGA has a weather detection system that alerted it to the fast-approaching storm.

An abandoned golf ball sits on hole thirteen after AJGA participants left the course during a thunderstorm that delayed the AJGA's Rolex Tournament of Champions for two hours Saturday at Dalhousie. (Elizabeth Dodd)

"The system goes out to 12 miles detecting lightning, which is well above where you need to pull them," Greenfield said.

The golfers were taken to the clubhouse, where they were left to wonder if they would get a chance to go back out on the course.

Greenfield said the players were removed from the course because of lightning and not rain.

"We will play in rain all day as long as the course holds up," he said.

Rain delays can become stressful for players and staff alike because of time constraints.

"It's tough because we have a time to keep in terms of we want to get the players home," Greenfield said. "The staff has to pack up and leave. These guys have to drive to Pittsburgh in the morning to go to another event."

Several players missed their flights home and some had to leave as soon as they finished playing to catch flights.

Many of the golfers spent the rain delay relaxing.

"I just ate and had a good time with friends," boys winner T.J. Vogel said. "This is my last AJGA tournament, so I just wanted to kind of see everyone and hang with them."

Vogel, who already committed to play at the University of Southern California in the fall, said the rain delay threw him off his game a bit.

"I wanted to keep playing because I was in a rhythm," he said. "Then to get pulled off the course for two hours completely changes that tempo you have established those first two holes."

Players like girls runner-up Karen Chung used the time off to settle down after a rough start.

"I actually played better after the rain delay," Chung said.

The AJGA constantly monitored the weather during the delay, hoping for an opening to get the players back on the course.

"We just kind of sat around and played the waiting game," Greenfield said. "We watched until we felt like we had an opening to go."

After a two-hour wait, players were allowed to go back on the course and resume their rounds.

If the tournament had not resumed, the scores from Saturday would have been wiped out and the leaders after Friday's third round would have been declared the winners, an AJGA rules official said. The AJGA does not add an extra day to a tournament because of inclement weather.

Saturday's delay was the first time an AJGA tournament at Dalhousie had to be delayed because of inclement weather.

The tournaments in the previous two years enjoyed rain-free weather.

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