Rain and lightning sweep through Ocean Course, postpone practice round

By Eric

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCIV) -- The Ocean Course, fans and players got their first taste of rain Tuesday, the first of what could be a few experiences.

Get used to it. The rain will likely be sticking around for much of the week.

A storm cell blew through the course Tuesday afternoon. It brought with it wind, heavy rain and lightning.

"Definitely if lightning gets within eight to 10 miles we're definitely going to stop," said meteorologist, Stewart Williams.

Williams, a meteorologist contracted by the PGA, is monitoring the weather on Kiawah Island for the week. He says the biggest concern is and will be lightning.

"We have lightning detection so we know exactly where the lightning is," he said. "We also have an electric field mill on site to measure the electrical charge in the atmosphere."

Williams constantly keeps track of the radar. He says there were at least 50 strikes within an eight mile radius of the course, the closest coming within a mile. It suspended play for about an hour.

Fans and players tried to find cover, but it wasn't easy.

"It feels like living in Florida with the rain everyday, and then going away and then coming back later in the afternoon," said Joel Cutlip. "It definitely hinders a lot of things."

"We brought our umbrellas just in case, we knew it was a possibility," Stacey Dodd said.

Moving forward, rain alone shouldn't suspend play, unless it gets worse.

"If greens puddle and they can't play under the rules of golf the rules officials will make that decision," Williams said.

Course officials are counting on the sea breeze to begin pushing the storms more inland, but the rain will remain in the forecast. Williams also said he expects the wind to pick up by Friday, with gusts reaching 25 miles per hour.