USGA hires personal weather crews to keep players, fans safe and informed

43rd U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld in Stevens Point
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 6:09 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The last thing the USGA wants is for fans and players to be caught off guard due to the weather. So, for the U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld, they have a weather crew on site for instant information, before anything hits.

Bryan Conrad has been a meteorologist since 2007 and joined the USGA right after the pandemic. This is his third major as the lead meteorologist and fifth tournament overall.

“Be weather aware and out in front of these forecasts leading up to the event and during the event,” he said.

The USGA utilizes a company called Thor Guard, as in the God of Thunder. They have the only system in the world with a lightning prediction sensor.

Conrad stated, “Others have to have a lightning strike take place. Thor Guard sensor works ahead of that, works with the energy in the air.”

The technology was very useful at the 2018 U.S. Open in New York when lightning struck a tree on the course.

“I think they were 25 minutes ahead of the strike hitting the tree,” said Conrad.

“We do trend forecasting. Which means we’re not going to jump around each individual model — individual forecast,” Conrad added. “So, once we get on site since we’re not from these areas, it’s learning the trends and how things are reacting and what’s going on around us.”

With Stevens Point’s central location, the information they receive and give out is instant and crucial for everyone’s safety.

“The radars are on the eastern and western side of the state. Rather than just relying on radars that are hundreds of miles away that have limited capabilities in terms of what it can see as far as physics,” Conrad said.

The USGA offers three forecasts per day at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., again at 5 p.m., as well as whenever else they may need it depending on the weather.