A true test of a champion is how some are describing this year’s British Open, and it is because of the weather. The tournament is being playing in Sandwich, England which is a coastal region. That adds to the influence of wind, which in turn can have big impacts on golf balls in flight (see more in this Sports Science video).
The Royal St. George’s course is in great condition, but an active weather pattern will provide occasional rain, but a guarantee of strong winds that should gust between 30 and 40 mph. That may have officials move up some golf tees. There is a par 5 on the 7th and a par 3 11th that could be impacted:
“We do have some wind issues out there,” said Peter Dawson, the Royal and Ancient chief executive. “We made the players aware at the start of the week that some tees may be moved up and they were invited to practice off forward tees if they wished. I think players should be able to reach the fairway and reach the par 3s, frankly.”
This is the 14th time the open has been played at this course, so weather was expected to be a factor. The UK Meteorological Office has payed particular attention. Check out their forecast through the weekend in the slide show on the left. Below is the press release the UK Met Office put out describing the influence of weather and the focus of their office:
Open Championships Alistair Beggs – Consultant from STRI Grant Moir – Director of Rules, R&A
My names is Alistair Beggs and I work as a consultant for the STRI who themselves are consultants to the championship committee of the R&A. Now I’m an agronomist by profession and agronomy is the study of soil management, so we get involved in the preparation of the golf course for the Open Championships and that process starts the minute the previous Open has finished and I visit the golf course on a regular basis to help the golf club themselves, the committee of the golf club, the green keeping team and the championship committee of the R&A prepare the golf course for the forthcoming championships and that may well be a ten year process.
My name is Grant Moir and I’m Director of Rules with the R&A and during the course of the Open Championship I’m involved in decisions which occur in terms of rules of the game and I’m also involved in the set up of the course in terms of tee positions, hole locations and basically how the course will play for the four days of the Championships.
How has the dry Spring had an affect on the course?
(Alistair Beggs) The dryness of the Spring in 2011 has been a real challenge for the green keeping team, for the R&A and for the golf club. Very little rain fell between mid-February and early June which made it difficult to schedule some of the key green keeping treatments during that period. So, up until June conditions were very very dry, fortunately the month of June did deliver some rain and I believe we had approximately 50mms in the period between earl June and early July which has allowed the treatments that we did perhaps fall a little behind with to be carried out effectively.
Why is it useful having a forecaster on site?
(Grant Moir) Having the Met Office forecaster on site is a great help to us for preparing for the championships. Firstly in terms of preparing the golf course, knowing how it’s going to react to the weather, how firm it’s going to be, how soft it’s going to be, how the rough might grow and also during the course of the Championship itself to know what weather we’re likely to get in terms of possible suspensions of play, if we have had to suspend when we might be able to resume play, it’s invaluable for us to have that onsite information.
How does the location of the course affect play?
Well the location of Royal St George is by the seaside here which means that if there are high winds predicted then we’re going to get the bulk of those here and it’s very important to us to have that information ahead of time, we’re trying to set up the golf course planning days ahead but if for example with a few hours to go in the morning we have forecast of high winds then we may have to adjust the hole position, it’s that important, we could loose hours of play if we get something wrong in terms of golf course set up and the location here means that we have to be keeping a constant eye on the weather and it’s great that we have that facility here.