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Renslow Golf: Playing through the elements

If you stand outside very long, it may not seem like a great time to start the golf season. But for the PGA Tour, the new year begins right away with a new schedule. Of course, this is all made possible by an average temperature of 80 degrees on the island of Maui.

This past weekend was scheduled to include rounds of golf in the annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort. Each year, since 1953 the PGA Tour has kicked off the season with this invitational event for those who won a tournament during the course of the previous year.

This all sounds great … unless you add wind gusts of up to 30 mph. Everybody’s hats are flying this way and that. The trees are at half staff. And anything that is not fixed is going somewhere …even the golf balls.



No kidding. The guys couldn’t keep the balls on the greens. A player set his coin down to mark the ball, and his coin slid 15 feet. (OK, I was kidding on that one). As of Sunday evening, not one hole of the 72-hole tournament had been played.

Over the years, it is not rare for a tournament or round to be postponed or abbreviated due to adverse weather conditions, namely rain. But I don’t recall multiple rounds delayed by winds.




The question, you ask, is: Has a PGA Tournament ever been cancelled due to weather?

Again, it is typical for a few events each year to be abbreviated. The cause is almost always rain, which may not allow golfers to play or the course could become unplayable. Even then, the tournament’s coordinators will make every effort to avoid losing a round.

In 1998, the AT&T National Pro-Am (Pebble Beach) began in January, and the final round was played in August. That’s a long time between competitive swings for some of these players. Why did they wait this long to complete this event? As mentioned, other events have been abbreviated. Why make these guys wait seven months to play one round?

I’m glad you asked. The AT&T National Pro-Am is one of just a few events that employs multiple courses during the tournament. One round is played at each of three courses (Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills Golf Club in 1998). Those who play well advance to a final round at Pebble Beach.

If just two rounds are played, the results are not equitable. A team (one professional, one amateur) that was on Pebble and Poppy, played the two “easier” golf courses (based on course ratings and average scores). Comparing their result to another team that played Spyglass would not be fair.

So the only way to save the event was to play the third round and get everyone on all three courses. Considering the players were PGA Tour members and their partners are often executives or celebrities, this was no small feat.

To find a PGA Tour event that was actually cancelled, we have to go back to 1996. No surprise, the AT&T National Pro-Am. After a lot of rain, the courses were simply unplayable.

For you and me, this time of year, we generally have enough sunny days to get in a good amount of golf even if the thermometer doesn’t see much action. And if we’re not ready to head outside, we have the Golf Channel to keep us company.

The boys finished up the Hyundai Tournament of Champions Tuesday, after a 36-hole Monday, and today we start the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club on Oahu. Enjoy.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com


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