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Forecasting the Dick's Open

(Source: Jeremy Donovan)

"I was at the 1991 PGA Championship when we lost a spectator to lightning.  Back in '91 we didn't have the technology, nearly, that we did today," said Gene Smith, Tournament Director, PGA Champions Tour.

Not that long ago it never occurred to the PGA to have anyone on site to help predict the weather until several incidents prompted a change in protocol.  For the last 17 years, Willis Young has been an on-site meteorologist for the PGA Tour.

"In '96 we went full time with the Tour.  They said 'we need you at every event, and I've been doing it ever since," Young said.  "So I'm on the road about 26 weeks out of the year and this is my 17th year out on the road doing this."

As a certified meteorologist, Young is trained to talk weather.  But, learning to translate that to talking about golf took a little time.

"There's an adjustment curve.  I'd say the first few years out here was a challenge to know exactly what they wanted but now I can tell them before they even ask for it," he said.

That experience and knowledge directly translates to confidence from tour officials.

"I have every bit of confidence in Willis that when he tells me you need to blow the horn and get the players off the golf course.  I have a lot of confidence that Willis is telling me what I need to know," Smith said.

"The main job out here is to keep people safe and to keep the tournament going as smoothly as possible," Young said.

Young's preparation for an event begins the week before and he says this years Dick's Open is shaping up to be perfect.

"Partly cloudy, highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's. so it'll be very comfortable," Young said.

"From what I'm hearing right now we're going to have a fantastic weekend, we're not going to have nothing to worry about," Smith said.

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