The heavy rain and flooding that has hit the east coast of Australia in recent weeks didn’t spare the Hunter Valley, nor the PGA and WPGA Tours of Australasia as they prepare for the final The Players Series event that was set to get underway today.
Shortened to 54 holes earlier this week, the event will still kick off on Friday morning despite players being unable to hit a practice shot in anger on the course so far this week due to the damp conditions that also kept Cypress Lakes’ green keeping staff from mowing areas of the course.
Spending their time at neighbouring golf courses that aren’t preparing to host an event to get some on course time in, as well as on the host venue’s putting and chipping greens, the competitors remained unsure as to whether the tournament would start as planned at 7:30am on Friday morning until late Thursday.
Many players walked the course to prepare as best they could, with some going barefoot to save their shoes and socks, a decision made late in the day by the Tour and Tournament Players Council (TPC) to push ahead and assess as round one progresses with local rules in place.
Plugging golf balls are a primary concern on the soft ground, with the topography of the Steve Smyers design creating a number of blind shots and places where balls could easily disappear without eyeballs up the fairway waiting as spotters.
This will be more than likely countered by preferred lies being in place across the entire course.
There was also discussions around spots being marked around the course where a player gets relief if their ball is unable to be found.
Golf Australia magazine learning that the official local rules to be decided throughout the course of Thursday evening and passed on to players.
"It is a herculean effort to be a chance of playing golf at all after the battering of rain the course north of Sydney has taken in the lead up, the staff of Cypress Lakes deserving immense praise. So too the Tour ..." - Jimmy Emanuel.
In this correspondent’s opinion, it is likely be a somewhat wait and see approach as the early groups make their way around the course and the full effect is realised of the conditions this publication learned on the grounds at Cypress Lakes.
It is a herculean effort to be a chance of playing golf at all after the battering of rain the course north of Sydney has taken in the lead up, the staff of Cypress Lakes, and Superintendent Craig Molloy, deserving immense praise. So too the Tour and TPC for at attempting to start play tomorrow due to the ramifications if the tournament was reduced to 36 holes.
As per regulations, a 36-hole event does not count towards the Order of Merit. The Tour making every effort to make the players’ journey to the region worthwhile, with most having been in town since leaving Sydney on Monday awaiting the chance to tee it up again.
Whether the ideal outcome is achieved or not remains to be seen, with rain forecast on Sunday and as was the case at Bonnie Doon last a Monday finish not on the cards before the Tour heads back to Sydney for the NSW Open next week at Concord Golf Club.
But for now it is game on.