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PGA Meteorologist Critical to Player, Fan Safety at Legends of Golf

RIDGEDALE, Mo. -- When it comes to golf and other outdoor activities, all eyes are towards the sky here in the Ozarks. The Thursday Pro-Am at the Legends of Golf Tournament near Branson was rained out and storms are expected to linger throughout the weekend.
RIDGEDALE, Mo. -- When it comes to golf and other outdoor activities, all eyes are towards the sky here in the Ozarks.  The Thursday Pro-Am at the Legends of Golf Tournament near Branson was rained out and storms are expected to linger throughout the weekend.

One person monitors the storms and makes the decision when it comes to playing or not.   KOLR10's Brett Martin reports from Top of the Rock:

During events and mass gatherings, its important to make sure someone is here to make the decision to evacuate or not. This event is no different, we saw it Thursday and the potential is there throughout the weekend.

Wade Stettner is a meteorologist assigned specifically to watch the severe weather for the Big Cedar Legends of Golf tournament.   (Full coverage of the tournament)

 "Our company Schneider electric travels with all the PGA tour events, Champions tour events, web.com events, and we provide on-site weather support," explains Stettner.

Stettner spends the entire day at the course and is responsible for passing along weather information to officials who then decide when play should be suspended.

 "What warrants suspending play is lightning. Anytime you are in a lightning threat or obviously severe weather."

He says too much rain can stop play too.

 "If its just rain with no lightning, they will play until the course is unplayable, which means once water starts ponding on the greens and the fairways."

The system was put to the test on Thursday when lightning and straight line winds tore through the course.

Stettner has gear on the course to give him the most up to date information.

 "I have lightning detection equipment here on the golf course. I have a radio signal that goes into my laptop and can track the lightning and lightning potential here at the golf course."

Tournament spokesperson Sydney Friar says they are prepared if it happens.
"We plan to take everyone into the public spaces so whether that's Arnie's barn and the pro shop here at Top of the Rock or at the Buffalo Ridge clubhouse."

Friar says volunteers are prepared too.
"We've been doing that volunteer training for weeks now, getting these guys prepared to inform the guest and the players."

Stettner says his eyes will be on the sky all weekend.
"There will be dry periods during the day so they'll be able to play golf at times but we just might be suspended during thunderstorms."

But weather shouldn't discourage fans from coming out...
 "Check the radar, bring your rain gear and just be aware of the weather."

And the action kicks off today (Friday, June 6) AT 9:30 am.  Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus tee off against Lee Trevino and Mike Hill at the at Top of the Rock.

See the full list of pairings and tee-times 

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