Golf courses hit by weather disasters

Written by by Staff Writer

The earth’s weather patterns are taking on new-found swings, and golf courses are being put in harm’s way.

Following an agreement between North and South Korea to de-escalate hostilities after weeks of tension, Pyongyang on Wednesday staged a huge military parade on the capital’s streets to mark its founding day.

Explosions marked the event, one of its largest ever gatherings. They were followed by the People’s Army Supreme Command’s “songun,” or military, organizational decision-making body firing hundreds of rounds of artillery.

But that was all for show. Experts believe the target — to ensure North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles can potentially reach US shores — will not be achieved for years.

Aside from setting sail for uncharted territory, the military parade also constituted a reminder of the extreme weather patterns impacting golfers worldwide.

Tornado tour

In the UK, last week saw two twisters tear through golf courses and the historic Egdon Heath golf and 18 hole course, although no injuries or deaths were reported.

Northern Ireland’s Golf Union described the two huge twisters as the “worst known in the history of the country,” while photos of the twisters streaking through the landscape have gone viral on social media.

In recent months, more golf courses have also suffered disasters when weather systems hit.

A major fire last year wiped out the annual Khao Lak tournament in Thailand — one of Asia’s oldest and most prestigious golf tournament. The Korea World Junior Masters was also suspended for three days in December when it was hit by typhoon Gita.

In the US, this year’s PGA Tour event in California, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, will be reduced to 54 holes. The event attracted controversy when the start was moved from the traditional Feb. start to avoid February’s massive snowfall.

Extra work?

According to the British Golf Union, over 230 golf courses have been hit by torrential rain in the last 10 years, including six major events.

The problem is largely attributed to climate change. The UK, where golf is now played by over 50 million people annually, experienced 32 weeks of “exceptional” weather in 2011, compared to 19 over the previous six years.

British Golf Union Chief Executive John Sherwood said the average golf course is now subject to 130 days of extremely wet or hot weather a year, compared to 60 in the early 2000s.

Sherwood said golf could face an increased possibility of flooding after high winds damaged a 36-hole course. “If you do not design a course for this type of damage, then you will be in for it for the rest of your life,” he said.

He added that could affect the revenue that makes the sport a viable business, warning the increased threat of damage may make golf courses desperate for extra work.

“We have written to all our members to ask them to recommend to us that they get involved in building super-safe or flood-safe courses. This will obviously change the game financially,” he said.

And it’s not just in the UK. Fellow golfing nation, Australia, saw a history-making hole — at The Chipping Skink Golf Club in Rokewood in 2012 — destroyed by a wild storm.

At the time, Charley McInnes, managing director of tournament organizers Aged Golf Australia, said they had never seen anything like it and would be able to tell their grandkids about it.

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