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10 PGA Courses with the Most Extreme Weather Conditions

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2014

10 PGA Courses with the Most Extreme Weather Conditions

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    The seventh green at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.
    The seventh green at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Even under the best of circumstances, golf is a difficult game to master.

    Mark Twain is often credited with first uttering the phrase that "golf is a good walk spoiled," but it may not have come from the noted author. John Feinstein wrote a book with that title about the struggles that all but the most elite pros have when they compete to make a living.

    Golfers struggle when the game is played under the best of circumstances. But what about when the game is played in wind, rain, snow, fog or hail? It can be next to impossible for the best amateurs to play and a monumental challenge for the top professionals.

    In this piece, we look at the PGA courses that often have difficult weather conditions in addition to being tough challenges under the best of circumstances.

Torrey Pines, San Diego

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    Lenny Ignelzi

    The weather in San Diego is normally perfect for athletes and sports fans. If you live in San Diego, you can drive inland and go snow skiing and then back to the coast and go water skiing in the same day.

    There are dozens of stellar golf courses in San Diego. The best of these is Torrey Pines, which is one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the United States.

    However, the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open was played under foggy conditions that are more closely associated with the more famous golf courses in Great Britain.

    The marine layer became thick, dastardly fog that made the course unplayable and forced the event into a Monday finish.

    San Diego may boast some of the most remarkable living conditions in the United States, but weather can play havoc with one of the best courses in the nation.

Dove Mountain Resort, Marana, Ariz.

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    Stan Badz/Getty Images

    Arizona is associated with some of the most desirable weather conditions, but the WGC Accenture Match Play championship is almost played with the threat of cold temperatures and extreme conditions.

    Dove Mountain was under a blanket of snow last year, and that forced several long delays. If it was not for a small 64-player field, the event could have been wiped out.

    However, while the 2013 conditions were extreme, it's almost always challenging at the Match Play championships. According to research done by PGA.com, the lowest average minimum temperature of 40.8 degrees makes the WGC Accenture Match Play championships the coldest tournament of the year.

TPC Louisiana, New Orleans

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Zurich Classic at the TPC Louisiana course in New Orleans represents the PGA's lone venture this year into Louisiana.

    While officials are hoping for sunny weather in the Bayou, the chances are they won't get it. The Zurich Classic is regularly the wettest tournament of the year.

    The Zurich Classic is the event that gets the most rainfall in both a given day and a given four-day tournament, according to PGA.com research. In addition to the wet weather, the Zurich Classic is also at significantly greater risk of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

    However, threatening weather did not prevent Billy Horschel from sinking a 27-foot putt on the final hole last year and winning his first PGA Tour event of his pro career.

TPC Southwind, Memphis

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    It might surprise some to learn that golfers regularly have to battle against the hottest temperatures of the year when they play at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.

    Certainly, Tennessee is known for its heat in the summer, but this tournament is played in early June. Still, according to PGA.com's research, the event has the highest percentage of days where the temperature exceeds 90 degrees.

    PGA.com reports that 74.5 percent of the tournament's competition takes place when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. There are several other high-temperature tournaments, but none of them exceed 41.5 percent for the number of days when temperatures get past the 90-degree mark.

    So, if you are in the mood for Tennessee barbecue and golf, head down to Memphis in early June for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. But make sure you are wearing your shorts and have plenty of frosty, cold beverages.

Kapalua Plantation, Kapalua, Hawaii

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    Stan Badz/Getty Images

    The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played every year in Kapalua at the Kapalua Plantation.

    While the island of Maui might seem to be the ideal place for a January golf tournament, there have been issues. Those issues are almost always wind-related.

    In 2013, the winds were so heavy and unrelenting that the tournament was reduced to 54 holes, and the officials were lucky to get that many in over a two-day period. Normally, the Tournament of Champions is played from Friday through Monday, but the 2013 tournament that was won by Dustin Johnson was delayed to Monday and Tuesday because of the brutal winds.

Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Pebble Beach is perhaps the most dramatic golf course in the United States. With its cliffs and its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is always one of the most popular non-major tournaments of the year.

    However, while Pebble Beach may be a wonderful destination for any good amateur who has played and loved the game, it is incredibly challenging when the tour heads to Pebble Beach in early February.

    Golfers have to deal with nearly all the elements at one time or another. For one thing, the tournament is almost always played in cold temperatures. That's a given. But it doesn't stop there. The cold is often accompanied by rain, high winds, and snow is not unheard of, and neither is fog.

    It's always challenging to play Pebble Beach because of the winds coming off the Pacific, but when those winds are accompanied by brutal cold, it's quite another story.

    Only the best professionals in the world can handle it, and certainly not very easily.

Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Md.

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    Stan Badz/Getty Images

    You can almost feel the heat at the stultifying Congressional Country Club that hosts the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md., in late June every year.

    The temperatures can be brutal, and one of golf's most famous finishes involves Ken Venturi struggling to victory in the 1964 U.S. Open.

    In those days, the golfers played 36 holes on the final day of competition. With temperatures in the 100s and the humidity oppressive, Venturi started shaking on the 17th hole of the morning round. Nevertheless, he finished with a 66.

    Venturi laid on the clubhouse floor between rounds and was advised by a local doctor to stop playing. He refused the advice, drank water and took salt pills and managed to record a 70 in the final round. That was good enough to give him the win.

    While it's not always as hot as it was 50 years ago, the AT&T National at Congressional had the highest average mean temperature, the highest maximum temperature and the third-highest average maximum temperature, according to PGA.com.

Old White TPC, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

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    Wet weather is a problem at the Greenbrier Classic.
    Wet weather is a problem at the Greenbrier Classic.Steve Helber

    The Old White TPC is one of the most picturesque courses in West Virginia, and it is a challenge for the touring pros who head to White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., in early July.

    However, it's not just the course itself that presents issues. This is one of the wettest tournaments on a regular basis. There is measurable precipitation on 44 percent of the tournament's competitive days.

    This makes it the second-wettest tournament on the tour behind the Puerto Rico Open. While the rainstorms don't usually inundate the course, as they do in the Puerto Rico Open, the Wyndham Championship and the John Deere Classic, golfers have to contend with wet weather on a regular basis.

TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, Irving, Texas

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Golfers are regularly forced to deal with extreme weather conditions, including rain, wind, heat, snow and cold. Nobody likes nasty weather conditions, but they are a fact of life on the PGA Tour.

    However, golfers can't compete at any point when lightning is in the area. It's simply too dangerous and competition must stop and all golfers must take cover when lightning is prevalent.

    Lightning can strike at any point, but it seems to be most prevalent when the tour hits the Dallas-Fort Worth area in May for the Byron Nelson Championship and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. The strike density in that area is greater than three strikes per kilometer, according to PGA.com research.

    While the AT&T National and John Deere Classic have strike densities of greater than two per hour, those events don't compare to the lightning levels at the Dallas-Fort Worth area events.

TPC Deer Run, Silvis, Ill.

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    Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    The John Deere Classic played at TPC Deer Run in Silvis, Ill., often features a slew of difficult weather conditions.

    The tournament is played in mid-July, and brutal heat is a constant threat in the Midwest. The John Deere Classic is the third-hottest tournament based on highest maximum temperature, according to PGA.com research.

    However, heat is not the only factor golfers are contending with at that Silvis, Ill., competition. It also had the highest maximum peak wind gust of any tournament. The wind gusts reached 65.6 mph, making it a golfer's nightmare. Lightning can also be a factor at the event.

    The 2013 John Deere Classic may be remembered as Jordan Spieth's first tour victory, but over the long haul, it may be known more for the tough weather conditions that regularly impact the competition.

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