I recall clearly my first season as the director of golf at the Board of Trade Country Club in Woodbridge, Ont.
Everyone was excited to implement the efforts of the committees who had spent all winter planning member events for the upcoming season.
Naturally, when the boss is new, so are many of the staff and we were all searching for anything that would ground us and help pull things together to do what we were hired to do by providing enjoyment for the members and their guests.
March came and went without too many thrills. April is April, with intermittent, inconsistent weather, new inventory arriving, staff meetings and greetings and the usual giggles as the season approached.
Then came May, the beginning of club tournaments, members entertaining customers, family and friends casual rounds, business rounds and lessons galore. We were off and into a new season.
Life actually went along reasonably well until about the 24th of May, the long weekend, when the rains came. All three days were a complete washout followed by sunshine every weekday and pouring rain every weekend until Aug 1.
All club matches were delayed, postponed or cancelled, sales were down, carts were down, F&B was down, lessons were behind and things were a general mess.
Of course you get the usual interrogation from management/ownership/board of directors including have you cut back on staff and other controllable expenses, which is always difficult to explain.
Nobody seems to understand that because you anticipated fair weather and budgeted staff accordingly, it’s difficult to cut back once it starts raining. They also don’t get the concept of planning to aerify, fertilize or over-seed by placing orders for supplies in the off-season and that payment is required, rain or not.
Then came 2017.
I have never seen so many consistent daily deluges where I live in Ontario. Downpours, rain outs, all day soakers, flash storms and hours by the bucket have all graced us. During May, June and July, a total of 92 days, I doubt there were more than 10 days with zero rainfall. People don’t have suntans – that’s rust. Financial numbers aren’t down, they are off the charts.
All of this meandering brings me to my point, that being weather forecasts. I hear and read that we are expecting a 30 per cent chance of rain today. What exactly does that mean?
First, I don’t understand why that forecast doesn’t read “a chance of some showers, but a 70 per cent chance of sun and clouds.”
Our weather reports are distributed by Environment Canada and once again, that makes me wonder why one station reports it one way and another contradicts it. Secondly, what exactly are they reporting?
Apparently, Environment Canada defines precipitation as: the chance of measurable rain or 0.2 mm falling on any random point of a forecast region during a forecast period.
In other words, you need 0.2mm of rain on an area that could be five per cent of tge region during a day. Being more precise, there is a 100 per cent chance rain will fall on an area the size of one township anywhere during a given 24 hour period.
Some people immediately think they are an identical twin of Joe Btfsplk, the hard-luck character from tge comic strip L’il Abner.
“What, a five per cent chance of rain in a 10 square km area somewhere in the province? We’d better cancel our game and stay inside until a nice day comes along”!
I’m not a meteorologist, so I can’t promise you a rainbow, but you would think that with all the money spent on weather forecasts, someone would come up with a method more reliable than “there could be a slight possibility of a minimal amount of precipitation occurring in an extremely small area of a very large area during a 24-hour period.”
Of course, this could change at any time to include such likelihoods as no rain, a very small amount of rain or a few clouds that they think they might contain rain – govern yourselves accordingly for the next 24 hours.
Entertainers, farmers, golf course owners, drive-in theatre owners, car wash centres, baseball administrators, pilots, truck drivers, school principals, bus drivers, house painters, driveway pavers, among others, are all planning schedules, budgets and their lives around the weather forecast and the best they can tell them is it might rain on .000001 per cent of a land mass during a 24-hour period?
The problem arises when managers actually alter their plans or in the case of golfers don’t play that day.
There is a slight ray of hope in Canada vs. the USA regarding weather forecasting. Environment Canada refuses to present a forecast of 50 per cent, but in the U.S., it’s acceptable. Environment Canada’s policy is to commit, make a decision and do not issue a 50% chance of rain.
My first question is do they then issue a forecast of 50 per cent chance of sun? Secondly, how does Environment Canada break a tie? If all indications are for a 50 per cent chance of rain or sun, do they flip a coin making it a 60 per cent chance of rain, ruining the day of all those people or do they issue a forecast of a 40 per cent chance of rain and only ruin the day of a few people?
A lot of people place a lot of stock in the weather reports. Why don’t they simply look out the window? The optimists will play golf, the pessimists will stay home, except in the USA. Perhaps, they would drive halfway to the course before turning around.
There’s no sense in getting wet.