If anything can cancel a golf tournament as big as the Web.com Tour Championship, it’s Hurricane Matthew, and that’s exactly what happened this weekend. Hurricanes in the United States are as common as they are deadly every year, and Matthew was particularly lethal – enough to decimate tournament plans and focus on living to play another day, writes Grant Miller.
Growing up in Connecticut in the USA’s Northeast, hurricane season came every summer of my childhood, but I was fortunate. Most of the hurricanes that reached my home as a kid had already downgraded to tropical storms. High winds, heavy rain, these things prevented me from playing basketball outside and my parents from driving, but our lives were never in danger. It wasn’t until I left for Chicago that Hurricane Sandy hit on October 27, 2012. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency the next day. It was declared a major disaster on October 30th. Sandy caused 147 deaths in the Northeast, five in Connecticut.
As bad as Sandy was, she was a Category 2 hurricane. Matthew was a Category 4 when he hit Haiti and killed nearly 900 people. Next up was Florida, where the Tour Championship was supposed to commence. This is the first time Web.com cancelled a tournament since 2005’s Miccosukee Championship and Hurricane Wilma, and it was a good call. Matthew was downgraded to a Category 2 by that time, but killed four people, left one million without power, and carved a new inlet in northeast Florida. You can prepare for the game, but no amount of practice on your swing can protect you from hurricane force winds, especially when you’re on a golf course with trees and clubhouses.
South Africa’s weather is mild in comparison to the eastern United States during hurricane season. The golfers at the Tour Championship would likely prefer a Southeaster over a Category 2 hurricane. A constant breeze would certainly frustrate them when they tee off and even when they putt, but they’re lives wouldn’t be at risk. A South African thunderstorm would only delay a tournament. It doesn’t last days at a time with flooding rain and winds ranging from 119-251 km/h. There is also no risk of the multiple tornadoes experienced in the mid-west. South African weather could cause a few bogeys, but usually nothing more.
There are likely quite a few people who are upset that the Tour Championship was cancelled, but they’ll survive literally and figuratively. And that’s kind of the point.