The forecast for the Sanderson Farms Championship this week on the PGA Tour at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., looks pretty good for when they tee it off Thursday.
For this event, that is wonderful. So often, that has not been the case. And we're talking a lot.
"The course is in great shape," GCSAA Class A Director of Golf Course Operations Al Osteen tells GCM. "We are just hoping that if it does rain, there are no heavy downpours."
You can understand why Osteen hopes for the best. Many times, the best wasn't possible.
Since its inception in 1968, the event has been shortened or canceled due to weather nine times. Then there is 2005, when Hurricane Katrina forced a four-week delay in the event, which back then was known as the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. In Sports Illustrated at the time, it was noted that "the only tournament sponsored by an insurance company was almost wiped out by the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history."
The times in which the event was shortened because of weather occurred in 1974, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1989 when it was played in Hattiesburg, Miss., and 1994 and 2002 at Annandale.
Osteen, a 17-year member of GCSAA, vividly recalls 2009.
"We had gotten the golf course ready, but couldn't find any relief from casual water," he says. "Fairways were saturated leading up to the tournament. That year, there wasn't a golf course within an hour radius where the whole course or part of the course wasn't saturated."
That isn't an issue now. Champion bermudagrass greens and the bermudagrass tees, fairways and rough are exactly how Osteen wants them. It doesn't hurt that he has an experienced course presence nearby to help if it's needed. Ben Nelson, green committee chairman at Annandale, was a PGA Tour tournament official until 2008.
If anything, Osteen feels a sense of obligation to shine this week. And that's not because the event is head-to-head with the British Open. Instead, Osteen is focused on the title sponsor. This is the first time Sanderson Farms is sponsoring the event, so he wants the course to be top-notch.
"This is just good for Mississippi," Osteen says.