Move the Memorial


2007 The Memorial TournamentDUBLIN, Ohio – The line of storms stretched from Sandusky to Indianapolis, with sleepy Dublin fixed squarely in the crosshairs. It wasn’t a matter of if the deluge would arrive, it was a question of when?

Jack Nicklaus once joked that the logo for his Memorial Tournament should be an umbrella, although arch-rival Arnold Palmer may take umbrage with that idea. It’s early June and the world’s best are assembled at Muirfield Village which means it must be raining. The old Scottish adage if you can’t see Ailsa Craig from the Turnberry coast it’s going to rain, if you can see the towering rock it already is raining somehow seems apropos at the House That Jack Built.

So far this week there have been six separate weather delays totaling 9 hours of inactivity, and make no mistake the ongoing weather woes are the rule, not the exception, in these parts.
Memorial Tournament
A fan checks out the leaderboard during a soggy Day 3 at Muirfield Village. (Getty Images)
It’s not always like this in central Ohio, but the golf world can be forgiven for thinking it is. Rumor has it the place is idyllic in the fall, great news for the 2013 Presidents Cup, and we’ve been told the forecast improves dramatically as late spring turns to summer.

“Don’t like the weather, wait a couple weeks. It gets a lot better,” said John Cooper, the former Ohio State football coach who has waded through his share of spring practices.

With that we offer a humble suggestion, how does Labor Day work – although the not wearing white thing would unduly handicap front-running phenom Rickie Fowler? Come to think of it, any time after the summer solstice would be a good reason to leave the rain gear at home and play 72.

Any opening, really, that doesn’t require a constant supply of umbrellas and a standing “lift, clean and place” local rule.

The Memorial, of course, has been tied to Memorial Day since 1976, but times, and weather patterns, change. The U.S. Open was once played in August (1920) and July (1921) before making its home in June. Fellow legend Arnold Palmer’s invitational jumped around the Florida Swing for years before settling into the anchor spot.

In fact in 1989 the Memorial, which had historically been played on Memorial Day weekend, was moved two weeks earlier to avoid weather woes only to get rained on, so officials eventually went with the first week of June and we’ve seen how that’s worked out. Point is officials have colored outside the lines before; we’re just asking for a little more imagination.

Tradition is fine, but when the snapshot is swollen rivers and the echoes of weather warning horns maybe it’s time to heed Mother Nature’s call.

Imagine how much better things would be for everyone involved if the Ball-in-Hand Open packed up and moved to the drier confines of late summer, or early fall. The PGA Tour wants to ensure 100 percent participation at the first FedEx Cup playoff event, move it to Muirfield Village. No one, sans the weatherman, says no to Nicklaus.

Short of a date change, the next best option would be to dig the place up and move it to Southern California, away from the spring wash and, if you believe in hexed goats and curses, away from the vengeful wrath of Chief Leatherlips.

Every time the Memorial field is sent scurrying for one of Muirfield Village’s “safe houses” by an approaching storm the locals start popping off about the curse of Leatherlips, who, lore has it, was executed in 1810 by members of his own tribe not far from where Jack built his dream 18.

Leatherlips, it seems, has little interest in the hubbub of tournament week and has therefore cursed the soiree into one of the Tour’s soggiest stops.

Boston Red Sox fans know a thing or two about curses, but if the fix for the Memorial is an 86-year wait ... well, Nicklaus doesn’t have that kind of time.

Not sure what the Tour’s Policy Board would make of Leatherlips’ curse, but cascading sheets of water that made Muirfield Village’s putting green a real water hazard on Saturday speaks volumes.

Call it the Memorial, call it Christmas in August for all we care, but don’t call back until the radar is clear, or you find an umbrella big enough to cover 18 holes and 30,000 fans who deserve better than wash, rinse, repeat.