As an outdoor sport, the weather is an important factor for golfers to consider. It??s even more critical for professional golfers, like those at this week??s Marathon Classic in Sylvania, who are competing for $1.4 million in total prize money. Due to the importance of weather, both for performance and for the safety of players and fans, the LPGA staffs a meteorologist on course for their tournaments.
Keeping a close eye on the forecast this week at Highland Meadows is meteorologist Allan Persons. He's based out of Minnesota, where he works for Schneider Electric, a company that the LPGA contracts with to provide an on-site meteorologist. Persons says the Marathon Classic is just one of the 14 tournaments across the country he??ll be working for the LPGA this year.
??My main concern here is player and fan safety,?? said Persons.
Persons keeps track of forecasting models and the radar to see if any bad weather is on the way. He also has a wireless weather station set up on the course, which provides the current temperature, wind direction and wind speed. The station, located this week between the first and tenth tees at Highland Meadows, also has a sensor that can detect when conditions are favorable for lightning.
??Obviously when you??re on a golf course, there are a lot of trees, a lot of wide open spaces, you??re right next to tents. So there??s a huge lightning threat. To get to any sort of safety, it takes time, so we need advance warning. And that??s what I??m here for is to give that advance warning,?? Persons told NBC 24 while standing in front of the weather station.
Persons says it takes about 10 minutes to evacuate players and fans from a golf course when the weather turns bad. He says the most difficult situation is when there are hit and miss pop up thunderstorms across the area. In those instances, Persons says the tournament will have their volunteers put on notice, so they can react quickly to usher people to safety should one of those storms move over the course.
But even when the weather is quiet, Persons is still at the course making a forecast so the players know what to expect. He says he usually wakes up around 4 a.m. to put together a morning forecast, and then he??ll update it in the early afternoon for players with later tee times. His forecast is available to players at their first hole.
And while Persons can??t actually control the weather, he told us he??s been getting a lot of smiles from officials and players with the comfortable weather that??s in place for the start of this year??s Marathon Classic. Temperatures Thursday for the first round topped out in the 70s with partly cloudy skies and low humidity.