Even on a beautiful day like Wednesday, there’s a watchful eye over every PGA Tour event.
“Lightning is our number one concern,” explains PGA Tour meteorologist Stewart Williams as he stands along a fairway at TPC Boston, home of this weekend’s Dell Technologies Championship.
He’s constantly watching conditions on the Norton course.
“We have live radar, lightning detection, we also set up electric field mill on site that measures the electrical charge in the atmosphere, so all those things together give us a great idea of when it’s going to be dangerous here at the course,” he says.
Safety is his number one concern, for both players and spectators.
“We’ll put the warnings out, signs out on the leaderboards throughout the course to alert the spectators,” he says of his actions in the event of severe weather.
It’s not just safety that he’s worried about. Williams also helps PGA Tour officials determine hole placement in some cases.
“Wind forecasts are big for the guys that are setting up the golf course every morning. So if you have a strong wind in the players face when they tee off, they’re going to move those tee blocks up so the hole plays a little shorter.”
This weekend Williams is especially focused on Sunday, which right now looks a bit damp.
“They may pick some hole locations on the greens that will be on a high spot, the last place to puddle on the greens, hopefully that lets us play longer.”
That will be nothing compared to what he’s faced in the past.
“Over the last 20 years we’ve dealt with everything. We had snow twice in Tucson for a couple years there in the winter, we deal with hurricanes, frost, fog, strong winds that don’t allow us to play, pretty much everything that can happen in an outdoor event we’ve seen,” he says.