An Eye on the Sky Fine-Tunes the Golf Tournament Below

At a popular event like the P.G.A. Championship, his predictions may not affect the tournament as much as the rule book, but they will influence course agronomy and pin placements, television broadcast preparations and emergency planning. A 350-acre property with relatively few shelters, organizers often note, takes much longer to evacuate than most places.

“When you see a red line that spans about 400 miles north to south, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that it’s coming,” said Sellers Shy, the lead golf producer for CBS, which will air weekend rounds and keeps a weather map in its bank of production monitors. “But their technology and their expertise literally gets it down to how far away it is, as well as when it will arrive and when the horn will blow to within five minutes, probably.”

Shy uses the forecasts to plan for interruptions in play — there is still airtime to fill, whether or not someone is trying to escape Oak Hill’s rough — but Kerry Haigh, P.G.A. of America’s chief championships officer and the man who so desperately needed to know the timing of the frost melt, relies on them for course setup, shifting his thinking about tee and hole locations to accommodate conditions over a 72-hole tournament.

“You almost can’t do without them in running any spectator championship, or really any golf event,” said Haigh, whose desk at Oak Hill is essentially a putt away from Williams’s, where the forecaster toggled his laptop screen among maps, models and charts.

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