Rain, hail pummel HP Byron Nelson course

May 25, 2011

IRVING, Texas - The sound was unmistakable to anyone who has spent time in the Midwest. As dusk gave way to dark in the Dallas metroplex Tuesday, tornado warning sirens wailed their urgent call to take cover. The skies crackled with lightning, rain rushed in rivers down the streets and hail battered cars, buildings and the TPC Four Seasons golf course, site of this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship.

While damage like the devastation in Joplin, Mo., earlier in the week was avoided, significant damage was done to the greens and bunkers at TPC Four Seasons. When work crews and rules officials arrived at 5 a.m. Wednesday, they were faced with a golf course that was spared tornado damage but one that was far from ready to play.

"It was a mess," said Slugger White, VP Rules and Competitions for the PGA Tour. "I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it. The hail was half the size of baseballs."

Remarkably, the pro-am was delayed only an hour and White says the expectation is that Thursday's first round will begin as scheduled at 7:15 a.m. He said the hail marks on the greens were repaired as if they were ball marks and then the greens were rolled.

"The bunkers were completely washed out," White said. "They had to re-do all of them." Officially, the course measured 1.4 inches of rain during the storm, "but it sure felt like more, it felt like two inches," White said. "There is significant casual water out there."

The forecast for the rest of the week is encouraging as the severe weather pattern that has gripped this area since the beginning of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week seems to have passed. On Monday, the 36-hole British Open qualifier at Glen Eagles in Plano, north of Dallas, was cut to 18 holes after a six-hour storm delay.

"It would be nice if we would get some wind now to dry the place out a bit," White said.

For players, media and local residents, Wednesday dawned to a mess of cars with cracked windshields and pock-marked metal. A local Cadillac dealership, clearly with a commercial in the can in an area used to severe weather, already was running a TV ad for deals on "hail-damaged cars." And remarkably, work crews were able to restore TPC Four Seasons to playability.

-- Ron Sirak