One bolt of lightning won’t stop this U.S. Open

By |  June 17, 2016 0 Comments

Lightning-Oakmont-1It’s hard to believe but three suspensions in play wasn’t the craziest thing that happened at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

A bolt of lightning struck a tree by the driving range just behind Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club Superintendent’s John Zimmers’ office, and then dispersed into the ground where it connected and burst an irrigation pipe. That was only the beginning.

“It blew out our irrigation monitor and David (Delsandro, Oakmont’s director of U.S. Open operations) happened to be alert enough to realize that we started to see flow of up to 1,500 gallons a minute and more,” says Zimmers. “I’ve heard about those kinds of things but I’ve never experienced it. So we’ve had four major irrigation breaks on the course because lightning hit the pipe and then it spread through the irrigation system.”

In addition to that, 2.3 inches of rain fell on the course in less than 24 hours, 1.1 inches overnight and another 1.2 inches during the daylight on Thursday. The bunkers on the course could not handle that much water and there were many that were washed out… but that is nothing compared to outside of the ropes.

“I knew before I sent the crew out (it) was going to be a challenge inside and outside of the ropes,” says Zimmers. “Outside of the ropes is a real disaster.”

Lightning-Oakmont-2Outside of the ropes is beyond their control. Their goal for Friday morning is simple, “get caught up.”

“We need to come in and cut the greens two or three times. If the weather allows us to roll them that would be fantastic and we need to rake all of the bunkers, mow approaches and tees,” says Zimmers. “Just try to make the golf course as playable as possible knowing that it’s a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start for the U.S. Open.”

He adds, “My mindset now is that we had an excellent rest of the evening and now we need to get the guys out of here and get some rest. Tomorrow is a new day. I have a little bit of a glare in my eye but we’re not done yet.”

Photos: Golfdom

This is posted in Columns, Featured

Post a Comment