CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) – Weather is always a concern at golf tournaments.
Meteorologist Ashley Baylor was at the Travelers Championship with behind-the-scenes details on how they’re always watching the skies.
The weather has been beautiful since the start of the Travelers Championship, but this is Connecticut and we know that can change at any time, so that’s why the PGA has an on-site meteorologist. Their job is to keep everyone safe and make recommendations on tee and pin placement based on weather conditions.
The Travelers Championship kicked off on Thursday at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. The course has been packed with players and spectators, all hoping the weather will cooperate. Of course, that doesn’t always happen, so the PGA Tour has an on-site meteorologist at every tournament.
Wade Stettner has been a meteorologist for 17 years. He has seen it all from strong winds to snow, to tornado warnings. Equipped with radar, Stettner will watch for any inclement weather that can pause play.
Players and fans need to clear the course if lightning is detected, even if the storm isn’t directly overhead. Using a tool called an Electric Field Mill, it can detect an electrical charge in the atmosphere, which can give him a heads up on whether a storm may produce lightning.
“For storms that might be building over the golf course, we can see when the cloud starts to electrify, and we can suspend play before that first lightning strike,” Stettner said.
Heavy rain is never ideal for players. It can lead to ponding and puddling on the course, sometimes cancellations. If heavy rain is expected, the greenskeepers may opt to move the pin to a higher location to avoid flooding in the hole. Light rain is okay though as it can help slow those super-fast greens.
There are other ways weather can impact the course and players. The wind, even the lightest breeze, can steer those long drivers. Players must factor in wind speed and direction before they tee off or hit a long iron shot.
“Where they placed the tee markers. The wind direction and speed also indicate whether they are going to play a forward tee because it might be into the wind and alter the distance,” Stettner said.
The sun, hot and sunny days, can dry out the fairways and greens, making it easy for the ball to roll right into the rough.
“The warmer the temperatures and lower the humidity, will dry it out. By the end of the day, you’ll see the greens speed up,” Stettner said.
Players and fans will be happy to hear it’s going to stay dry through the weekend, but it’s going to be hot and humid, so PGA and your News 8 meteorologists are recommending spectators stay hydrated and take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas at the Travelers Championship.