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Weather Puts Off Vt. Am

With the course at the Country Club of Barre already soaked by weeks of rain and no significant drying relief in the immediate forecast, the Vermont Golf Association yesterday postponed its state amateur championship, which was to commence today.

The VGA announced the decision in a news release shortly before 7 p.m. last night, coming after executive director Dave Pfannenstein spent parts of yesterday with Barre superintendent Bill Evans and tournament chairman Al Potter setting up pin locations for the competition. The group got hit by a rain shower around noon, then took a hit from another later in the afternoon “and that kind of did it in,” Pfannenstein said in a phone interview last night.

The Vermont Amateur has been rescheduled for Aug. 5-7 back at the CC of Barre.

“The feeling is that the ground is saturated, and with the weather forecast we have and what we already have (for rain), we don’t see any good drying days and no opportunity to conduct an event in championship conditions,” Pfannenstein explained. “The Country Club of Barre has been very, very welcoming and really has embraced this tournament, but they also have to protect their interest in their golf course. It’s such that there were some holes that it would be difficult to get people around. We don’t want to do any damage.”

The field of 101 golfers – which includes nine players with Upper Valley connections – was to begin playing at 7:30 a.m. today. The weather forecast for Barre includes a 30- to 60-percent chance of thunderstorms today and tomorrow, the constant theme for northern New England for most of the past month.

Hanover High gradaute Nate Choukas, who was scheduled to play his first Vermont Am representing Fairlee’s Lake Morey Country Club, wasn’t surprised by the decision. Choukas said he played Barre recently: “It was really wet, so I had it in the back of my mind that if it rained, it might get cancelled.”

“For me personally, it’s a bummer because I have another tournament on Aug. 5, when it’s been rescheduled for,” Choukas added. “I’ll probabably have to drop out of the Vermont Am, but I haven’t decided yet.”

According to Weather Underground, the Montpelier region has had at least trace precipitation on each of the last 17 days, with a tenth of an inch or more of rain on 12 of those days. Humidity levels are predicted to remain such, at least today and tomorrow, that any drying of the course is likely to be futile.

“We have some runoff and drainage that way, but you also have to have evaporation,” Pfannenstein said. “Right now, we’re not getting any evaporation because it’s so muggy.”

The tournament format won’t change when the makeup date arrives. The qualified golfers will play 72 holes of stroke play over three days, capped by a cut to the top 40 scores and ties and a 36-hole final day on Aug. 7. The VGA news release indicated new tee times would be released on July 31.

The makeup date works for Barre and the VGA on several fronts. For one, it doesn’t conflict with any United States Golf Association championships that might draw away top Vermont players. A Vermont State Women’s Golf Association state day tournament set for Aug. 6 will have to be moved, Pfannenstein said. The new start date also comes less than 24 hours after the completion of Rutland Country Club’s prestigious L.D. Pierce Memorial Tournament, a highly anticipated team event held every summer.

Pfannenstein said he was confident that the Vermont Amateur postponement wouldn’t result in many dropouts.

“It’s a pretty important function; it’s not up against any of our other events that are in that time frame,” Pfannenstein added. “We understand there are people that have different work situations and so on. Potentially, we might lose a couple. Hopefully, we won’t.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.