Mark Mixdorf, the course superintendent at Highland Meadows Golf Club, was not a happy camper when he learned the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, normally staged in early July, had been moved to mid-August this year.
“We always try to have the course in championship condition for our members but, to be honest, you always want it extra nice for a pro tournament,” Mixdorf said yesterday. “And that's not hard to do if you just have to make it through the end of June.
“These are the dog days, though, and it figured to be a challenge to keep the course nicer this late into the summer.”
Turns out, it was no challenge whatsoever. Thanks to cooperative weather, Highland Meadows is unusually lush for this time of year.
“Frankly, this is the easiest year I've had here,” Mixdorf said. “Last year, in early August, it was 95, 90, 89 [degrees] every day and we were syringing [hand watering] those clay-based areas where the soil would really dry out and threaten not to survive.
“This year, 82 degrees has been a hot day. And whenever we've needed rain, Mother Nature has answered the call.”
With too much vigor, perhaps. After a steady, albeit light, rain fell during yesterday morning's Fifth Third Bank Pro-Am, heavy thunderstorms moved through in late afternoon, suspending the Farr Classic qualifying tournament and postponing the KeyBank/Fox Toledo $1 million hole-in-one finals until this afternoon at 5.
“We've about had enough rain,” Mixdorf said. “The rough is probably the thickest and healthiest I've ever seen here. It should be a challenge for the golfers. Now, if we can shut the rain off, we can get the course dried out and get everything speeded up.”
The forecast is for hit-and-miss storms through tonight. Conditions are expected to be sunny with temperatures in the 80s over the next several days, which might give the Meadows a chance to get firm and fast.
QUALIFIER: Thirteen players vying for two available slots in this week's Farr Classic will have to return this morning at 7 o'clock to complete an 18-hole qualifying tournament. Play was stopped at 5:10 yesterday because of lightning and then suspended overnight at 6:25 p.m. following heavy rains. The last group will have to complete four holes. The field includes two northwest Ohio amateurs - Heather Zielinski of Sylvania and Emily Bastel of Upper Sandusky.
PRO-AM WINNERS: Teams headed by pros Krystal Parker-Manzo and A.J. Eathorne captured top prizes in yesterday's Fifth Third Bank Pro-Am.
Parker-Manzo and her amateur partners - Bob Chappell, Ron Enser, Jim Thrower and Edie Waddel - won low net with a handicap-adjusted score of 50.3. Eathorne's team captured low gross with a 17-under-par 54. Her partners were amateurs Dave Ball, Ken MacLaren, Jerry Straub and Steve Mitchell.
Second-low net was Michelle Estill (Matt Colley, Josh Birmingham, Mark Eberflus and David Aldridge), 50.8. Third-low net was Siew-Al Lim (Alex Koepfler, Bruce Weislik, Jeff Wojtkowiak and Ron Martinuseuzzi), 51.4.
HOT PUTTERS: The foursome of Greg Kott, Richard Kott, Fred Lumm and Mike Williams captured the top prize in yesterday's Mercy Health Partners putting competition held over a course set up on the Highland Meadows' practice green.
DAD TO CADDIE: They had their problems during a well-publicized altercation with LPGA veteran Danielle Ammaccapane during the U.S. Women's Open early last month, but B.J. Wie said yesterday he would caddie in the Farr Classic for his 13-year-old amateur daughter, Michelle. Keep an eye on the pairings later in the week - Ammaccapane is also playing at Highland Meadows.
A TRIBUTE: An addition to the main scoreboard area is a large boulder featuring a plaque honoring former Highland Meadows PGA professional Dave Samaritoni, who retired last year after 33 years. It was unveiled during a club function on July 11, which was also designated as Dave Samaritoni Day by the city of Sylvania.