Posted: July 11, 2015 3:53 am
As you may have heard and felt, a savage thunderstorm ripped through the area Thursday, as the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open was winding down.
The storm hit around 6 p.m., with 56 golfers still on the course. It was short — maybe 10 minutes — but impressive, causing damage to trees and bunkers on the golf course and challenging the foundation of some of the temporary structures built on the property for the event.
Water poured in the media center, where electric power was briefly lost and “hearty,” “tough-minded” media members were told to stay put for their safety.
Turned out to be not that big a deal.
The United States Golf Association knew it was coming. It has a meteorologist on site and lengthy experience dealing with just this problem.
Well before the storm hit, players were pulled off the course and spectators off the property.
After the storm, the practice range was re-opened to the players around 7:15 p.m., at which point the plan was to play more golf Thursday. That plan, and all golf for the day, was scrapped at 7:53.
“I think our goal anytime we’re in that situation is to play as much golf as possible,” said Mike Sawicki, Tournament Director for the USGA. “We had somebody go to every single hole and report on anything they saw from debris to the bunker washouts.
“At that point the determination was made that we would have a better use of time by cleaning it up last night, getting a full day in today and we think we can conclude Round 2 today and be back on schedule tomorrow.”
That was obviously the correct call. The maintenance crew worked through the night, and the golf course was ready at dawn Friday.
Although some of the field had to play as many as seven holes Friday morning to complete their first round, starting times for Round 2 were pushed back only about 20 minutes.
The second round was easily completed Friday, and everything is now back on schedule, with excellent weather forecast for the weekend.
“We had set up a very sophisticated schedule with the maintenance department, with our vendors, and then with our course set-up teams to follow an exact order,” Sawicki said.
“It’s part of our planning that we’ve done over the last couple of years. Our execution, in my opinion, was next to flawless.”