Not-so-specific Pacific

By |  July 9, 2019 0 Comments
Seth Jones headshot (Photo: Golfdom)

Seth Jones

My travels have taken me all over these last few weeks, and there has been one common theme: rain.

I was in Cleveland at the beginning of this week attending company meetings. I stopped by my favorite department at North Coast Media (the accounting department, of course — and I’m not just saying that because I’m behind on my expense reports) when Susanne Knauer, our senior cash and collections analyst, said to me, “Since when did Cleveland become the Pacific Northwest?” in reference to the constant rain the area has been receiving.

That evening, 1,700 miles away, I was catching an Uber ride from Salt Lake City to Park City, Utah. My driver was Joseph, a classic rock-loving Denver Broncos fan (ugh.) He was telling me about the consistent — and uncharacteristic — rain the area had been receiving all month when he said, “It’s like Salt Lake City is in the Pacific Northwest!”

Whoa. Déjà vu. (Please read that in a Keanu Reeves voice from The Matrix.)

In June, along with those trips to Cleveland and Park City, I also made treks to Pebble Beach (see photos from the US Open), Chicago and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. A cool, wet golf season was a common theme. I thought we were going to need a kayak to get out of Canada. Visiting Drew Barnett for an assignment (see my interview with Drew here) in Chicago, he told me about some of the challenges Chicago-area supers were having. Record-setting rainfall in May led to a cool, wet June, with temperatures occasionally dipping into the low 60s.

In the Phoenix airport I spotted Jake Wylie, mid-South area manager for Quali-Pro, parked at a barstool. I joined him and he gave me the same report: Dallas/Fort Worth had seen unusually cooler-than-normal temperatures and rain. A course he was working with recently converted from bentgrass to bermudagrass to better adapt to the hot, dry Texas summers. How’s that for unfortunate timing?

After seeing so many photos of flooding on his golf course on Twitter, I buzzed my pal Dan Grogan (@purdueturfy) at Sagamore GC in Noblesville, Ind. For the first time in his 13 seasons at Sagamore, he hadn’t fired up the irrigation system a single time by mid-June. They’ve had 33 inches of rain so far this year, with 26 of those inches coming after March 1. They typically mow fairways on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday cycle. That had only been done successfully twice this year.

Here in Kansas, we’ve had similar weather, along with flooding down south and even a tornado that had my whole family, including the dog, under a mattress in the basement on May 29. (It ended up missing us by about 3 miles — Linwood, Kan., was not so lucky.) Other than golf lessons for the kids, the weather stalled out the start of our golf season here in the Sunflower State.

For private clubs, it’s one thing — members can at least see for themselves that it’s raining all the time. For the public courses, it’s more daunting. It’s a slow start to the golf season, rounds played, food and beverage sales … and when the weather does break, the course gets slammed from too much play all at once.

I typically try to avoid writing about weather here because it always can change so drastically from the time I write this column to the time you receive the magazine. I mean, a Jayhawk won the U.S. Open (rock chalk, Gary Woodland!) — I should be writing about that. But I’ve seen too much of the same thing in my travels not to make note of it here.

But like Grogan told me, overcoming weather challenges is what this business is all about. “My crew, they’ve been rock stars,” he told me. “I had to take them all to the Chinese buffet because I’m so proud of them. It’s what we’re here to do.”

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