Windy winter wonderland in Hawaii?

January 11, 2013

The PGA Tour’s start to its 2013 season didn’t go exactly as planned. The wind at Hawaii’s famous Plantation course at Kapalua was so strong, when combined with the rain it drove sideways, to force not one, not two, but three straight weather delays for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, Dustin Johnson, a Myrtle Beach boy who’s naturally familiar with hurricanes, picked up another PGA trophy to go with a couple others he won previously under weather-shortened conditions.

It’s also probably a very good thing that this tournament is a short-field event, made up of those who won a PGA-related tournament during the 2012 season. Given the scramble to play two rounds on Monday and a third on Tuesday, I think the tour officials would have had a tough time with a full-field event.

The winds also forced the formal cancellation of scores for the golf pros who tried to compete under the wretched conditions over the weekend. That doesn’t happen very often. Nonetheless, the Official Rules of Golf provide for a local committee decision option to take into consideration just how bad things had become, in order to assure a fair result.

As reported at the USGA website, conditions at Kapalua were pretty awful. It’s bad enough to watch your putt veer off course after you made your stroke. How much worse could it be to watch your ball roll off the green, because the wind is shoving it off toward a bunker?

The situation is discussed in Decision 33-2D/1 of the Rules of Golf, and stresses the role of judgment for the committee. As the decision notes, however, “… if some competitors begin a round under extremely adverse weather conditions, conditions subsequently worsen and further play that day is impossible, it would be unfair to the competitors who started not to cancel the round.”

That’s a hint about what the committee should do, and a not-too-subtle one at that.

This arrangement works well when applied to the normal stroke play conditions under which most PGA tournaments are conducted. Under match play rules, however, this combined cancellation and do-over option is not allowed. Rule 33-2D provides that in match conditions, the local committee can suspend the round for bad weather, as in stroke events, but for match play there is no additional provision for starting over with a fresh batch of scoring opportunities. As the USGA notes, “Since the two sides in a match are playing in equally poor conditions, no player can be considered to have been placed at an unfair disadvantage versus his opponent.”

So, if you’re in a match play event and the weather’s really lousy, you might want to make sure the committee knows exactly how bad it is outside, well before your scheduled start. Otherwise, you could be finding out exactly how much you enjoy playing in 40-knot “breezes,” along with your competitor.

How to tell if it’s too cold to play golf

Thus far this winter, the Cape Region has been blessed with fairly decent weather conditions for golf.

Other than waiting for the frost to clear, and if properly attired, local golfers have not been forced off the courses unless their own attitudes about playing in the mid-40s suggest otherwise.

In anticipation of colder weather, however, local golf nut and Cape volleyball coach Nick Del Campo sent a short list of ways to tell it’s a bit too chilly for a round of 18.

Some of these warning signs are as follows:

You have to wear the visor with the plaid, woolen earflaps.

When you fell through the ice, you realized taking a divot on a frozen pond wasn’t such a hot idea.

Your cart sinks when it hits an iceberg.

It drops below the temperature of an IRS agent’s heart.

It’s hard to read a putt with Tammy Faye Bakker icicles on your eyelashes.

The greens are groomed by a Zamboni.

A woolly mammoth just walked across the hole.