Golf and Global Warming

Golf and Global Warming: I Don’t Get It

We’re all into the global warming age now. We’ve all heard about it, and have probably sat for at least one explanation of it. Some walked away believing it, some did not. However, funky things are happening with weather extremes, and in recent times, no one knows that more than the golfers on tour.

dove 1Consider the big match play fest this week at Dove Mountain in Arizona – an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Jack Nicklaus course lying at 2,800 feet, give or take a few, in the Arizona hill country. All the engines are revving for these matches, one of few on the tours today. And what do we get instead? First, we get wind-driven rain that won’t let a golf ball sit still, and that turns into snow – yes, snow. But it’s Arizona, right? Just like Hawaii without all the ocean, right? No, it’s thirty-three degrees and two inches of snow on Dove Mountain.
Poor Ian Poulter, he’s freaked out by the whole thing. This is his second tournament of the year, and his first (in Maui) was called on account of wind. Not only that, but he was three up on Stephen Gallacher, who unceremoniously hit the frequent number one golfer with a snowball. Poulte, of course,  will not rest until he is avenged.

This is the second  time in three years that such weather has gotten in the way, and in the ’05 version, the entire course ended up entirely underwater. Tiger had to abide an abandoned round at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago due to fog, the kind of weather where “fore!” doesn’t do anyone a bit of good. You could drown playing at Pebble Beach in weather like that.


dove 2The turf experts are going crazy all over the world, especially in North America. It freezes in places where it isn’t supposed to, and long-winter states suddenly have a three-day heat wave, and poof, winter’s over. At the Dayton Country Club in Ohio, Dennis Cox says it’s the worst he’s seen in almost forty years, with extreme heat, humidity and extreme rainfall. If you don’t have the bucks to keep them maintained, tees, fairways and greens can scorch, and when it’s hot and a thunderstorm comes through, the roots of the grass get boiled.

weird-weather-golf 1Traverse City, Michigan lost its winter almost entirely, usually a time when turf guys can breathe and relax a bit. On the other hand, Seattle had a winter storm. Even Alaska, most of which can count on some good snow, got 272 feet of the stuff (that’s not a typo) at Valdez. I suspect that the Bering Invitational is probably canceled this year. Meanwhile, turfies are debating whether fungicides become less effective in non-wintry weather.
Winter Flight Deals - WINTER15
And what of those people who are playing back on Dove Mountain? They can’t keep their hands warm. What do you do? What are you allowed to do? Apparently, you can pre-warm golf balls in a cooler, but not during the round by artificial means, which means no adding of ice.  You are allowed to warm your hands by any means you think will be effective. Once warm, you can hold the golf balls in your hands to warm them. Some attempt to cool the balls, thinking they will go farther, but I read that the thermal conductivity of a golf ball is extremely low, and that the lack of elasticity by coldness would diminish distance anyway.

All I know is that for day 1, Tiger and Charles didn’t happen, a stuttering start in a warming world – and it ticks me off. Somebody get me Al Gore’s handicap – no, I mean the real one. If the world is going to change like this, it’s time for him to stop sandbagging.

Incidentally, Stacy Lewis is blowing it up in Thailand with a 63, where all she has to worry about is extreme humidity. When I was a kid, that meant trying to hold on to the club after contact. Do they ever cancel a tournament from humidity?

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1 comment

    • Ledley King on March 2, 2013 at 8:55 am
    • Reply

    “He smote his breast and chided thus his heart, “Endure, my heart, for worse hast thou endured.- Oydessus, The Odysee

    Hey skip, very interesting post. I’m very concerned more about the ability of successful golfers to endure and prevail given any of the conditions, through will and persistence and love of the game, rather than succumbing to mother nature’s pressure.

    I think the aspects of global warming might actually make the game more interesting, exciting, romantic – the idea now that instead of carrying poncho, umbrella and towel, one might back a more wick-resistant shirt, and every golfer will have increased enthusiasm for gatordate and electrolyte filled drinks (which are the type of drinks that have effectively been pitched to NFL athletes – especially since the NFL Combine is in session)

    Per the increased fees for green upkeep, it’ll be interesting to see the evolution of golf in terms of its play indoors! Imagine the circumstances!

    Anyway, I just think the internal resilience of the individual will determine their views of (and ability to see the assets and positives of) increased playing temperature, as in many cases mother winter is looked down upon and brings lots of gloom to the golfers in the eastern north American peninsula (april showers bring may flowers).

    As for the science, I just know that the emissions of certain carbon atoms interfere with a blanket of protective atoms in the upper atmosphere, shielding us from certain electromagnetic waves which can trigger cancerous alternations in DNA base pairs, and also increase the earth’s ground temperature. It will be interesting to see the new technology that is discovered, invented, and used to fight off the said increased heat so the ‘game of golf’ can go on ! ☺

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