Tee to Green: The last flight at Dove Mountain?

2:14 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Being from the East Coast, I have a rather simplistic notion of the Arizona climate.

I picture heat. Dry heat. Skin-leathering heat. Throw in a coyote, a cactus and some adobe and you have my version of Arizona.

Like I said, simplistic.

What I don't picture is snow. Lots of snow. Sideways snow. Enough snow to imperil a PGA Tour event.

But that's exactly what the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship got on Wednesday when a mini-blizzard descended on the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, dropping over 1 1/2 inches of play-halting powder on the Marana, Ariz., resort.

Not a single match was completed before the opening round was suspended, and 22 golfers, including Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen, didn't even make it to the tee.

"It's absolutely remarkable to think one minute we're playing golf, and then within a space of 25 minutes, it turns from playable to cold drizzle to sleet and to snow," said England's Ian Poulter, who at one point refused to putt on an icy green. "It's just bizarre."

Organizers are optimistic that a Sunday finish is still possible, with PGA Tour meteorologist Stewart Williams saying he "thinks the worst of the snow is probably over for us now." But Sunday finish or not, the bizarre conditions seem avoidable and unnecessary.

Let's keep in mind, this isn't the first time winter weather has hampered play at this event.

In 2011, about an inch of snow fell before the final-round showdown between Donald and Martin Kaymer. The match started on time, but play was briefly delayed when sleet descended on Jack Nicklaus-designed Dove Mountain.

"A couple of years ago, I know that it snowed the final round here," Jason Day said Wednesday. "I've never actually played golf to the point where we've actually stopped for snow, which is kind of crazy. A little crazy for it to snow in the desert, as well. But that's just how it is. Mother Nature can just do whatever she wants."

Yes, Jason, Mother Nature is uncontrollable, but that doesn't mean we can't adjust to avoid her fickle whims.

According to last May's press release, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain and the PGA Tour only have an agreement through this year's event. In the release, the Tour's executive vice president of championship management, David Pillsbury, stated that "We're excited to continue the long-standing tradition of world- class golf in this marketplace at least through 2014," but he didn't specify Dove Mountain as the 2014 host.

Regardless, it's time to make a change in the coming years.

The PGA Tour's winter stretch is designed to maximize optimal playing conditions while a significant portion of the country is still bringing a six- pack to the nearest indoor golf simulator. Hell, the Tour doesn't even sniff my neck of the woods until at least May, and that's the way it should be.

On Wednesday, guys had fun with the situation. Rickie Fowler had a snowball fight in the parking lot, and a slew of players took to Twitter and Instagram to document the wonderland.

It's always fun to see your favorite athletes with their guard down, but it's even more fun to see them do what they do best. In this case, what they do best is play golf, so let's get this event to a place where they can do just that.

The Sports Network

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