Sunny King Classic players will cope with usual heat
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Jul 06, 2012 | 3753 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A large fan helps keep the heat off as Logan Watson waters the fifth green at Cider Ridge in Oxford during the 2012 Sunny King Charity Classic. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
A large fan helps keep the heat off as Logan Watson waters the fifth green at Cider Ridge in Oxford during the 2012 Sunny King Charity Classic. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
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If the Sunny King Classic had been scheduled just one week sooner, participants would have been playing the golf tournament in dangerously hot temperatures.

As it is, the 400 or more golfers who will play on greens at Cider Ridge Golf Club, the Anniston Country Club and at Silver Lakes for the charity tournament can expect to take to the courses in more comfortable conditions.

Record-breaking temperatures broiled central Alabama last week as wet weather stayed at bay. Temperatures have fallen since rain showers and thunderstorms arrived late last week, but meteorologists say Alabamians could still face pockets of dangerous heat in the coming days.

On Wednesday, temperatures in Tuscaloosa matched the record-breaking high of 100 degrees; also on Wednesday, the temperature in Huntsville topped out at 102 and in Muscle Shoals the temperature soared to 103.

Meanwhile in Anniston, the temperature was considerably milder, peaking at 91. The National Weather Service’s forecast predicts a chance of thunderstorms and temperatures will be in 90s throughout the weekend, but it could get hotter in some communities if the rain showers don’t arrive.

“It’s not out of the question that we could have a record-breaking temperature. It’s just going to be less likely,” Mary Keiser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.

Organizers for the charity tournament said they’re ready for record-breaking temperatures, should they arrive. The courses will be equipped with hydration stations at every fourth hole.

Additionally, cold towels and ice will be on hand for golfers.

But organizers don’t think the heat will be a problem on the greens. The event has always been held in the summer, and participants are used to the heat and humidity.

“We typically expect it to be in the mid 90s,” Sunny King Classic Chairman Jimmy Flowers said. “Most of the people that are playing are from Alabama so they’re used to a measure of heat.”

The greens at area golf courses are ready for competitors today despite last week’s triple-digit temperatures and an ongoing drought.

The men who manage the courses at Cider Ridge Golf Club, Anniston Country Club and Silver Lakes said the conditions haven’t damaged the greens.

“We really have not changed our watering program at all,” said Russell Nichols, superintendent of the golf course at the Anniston Country Club. The grass there is a Bermuda grass, which is resilient even in dry conditions, Nichols said.

“The fairways became firmer and dryer, but we haven’t lost any grass.” Nichols said. “Bermuda grass can go off-color because of drought in the summertime and it will come back.”

At Cider Ridge Golf Club, groundskeepers did apply a wetting agent that helps the soil hold moisture during the recent dry-weather days, said Chad Robinson, golf course superintendent.

That helped eliminate watering cycles and saved water. At Cider Ridge, the grounds are covered in a cool-season grass, and the summer months require more intensive treatment. But dryer conditions are better conditions for turf management at Cider Ridge, Robinson said.

“I can always put water down, I can’t take it away,” Robinson said. “When it’s dry the greens perform much better.’

Silver Lakes course is also doing well despite the drought, according to Jason Callan, director of golf. Groundskeepers there didn’t have to make drastic changes to maintain the greens, he said, but recent rains have been welcome.

“It’s been significantly dry for the last month and we’re happy to see any type of moisture,” Callan said.

Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@LJohnson_Star.
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