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At the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, stroke play co-host Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, dealt with a limited amount of daylight to perform maintenance and they were walloped with 5.3 inches of rain in 22 hours. Fortunately, superintendent Alex Beson-Crone, senior assistant Dan Vater and the maintenance team found ways to deal with both.

From the outset, hosting a September championship meant there wouldn’t be much maintenance performed in daylight. While investigating options for portable lights, they discovered a 6,000-lumen, battery-powered LED light fixed to a tripod. Purchasing several of these provided enough supplemental lighting to perform tasks like raking the deep, grass-faced bunkers safely and quickly in the dark. The lights take just seconds to set up and are easily transported. After the championship, the team at Blue Mound has continued using them since the shorter days of fall mean more maintenance must be done in the dark.

The lights were critical to completing morning maintenance efficiently during the championship, enabling the USGA to start tee times right after sunrise. Blue Mound was in prime condition for Saturday’s first round of stroke play and the 1926 tour de force of Seth Raynor design received glowing reviews from players.

Then the rain came. Sunday was a washout, with no golf played and the forecast calling for 2 inches of rain. However, around nightfall the storm intensified and heavy rain bands swept in off Lake Michigan, battering the course Sunday night and into Monday morning. The 24-hour rainfall total doubled their average for an entire month! When the deluge subsided at 4 a.m. on Monday, Beson-Crone sent an SOS to fellow superintendents that Blue Mound needed help. By sunrise, neighboring superintendents had answered the call – delivering additional pumps and personnel to help address the flooding. The massive effort by staff and volunteers led to a miraculous resumption of play at noon Monday.

One key to successfully navigating these troubled waters for Beson-Crone was having the right types of pumping equipment. Specially designed pump intakes with a very low profile that only pull water in from the top were used to avoid digging holes in bunkers or constantly repositioning the intakes to keep them submerged. Having a variety of pump sizes, from 1-inch portable pumps all the way up to 6-inch pumps mounted on trailers, allowed staff to deploy an appropriate pump to each area. But the biggest key to Beson-Crone’s success was being able to rely on his network of fellow superintendents. In total, 17 additional pumps and 10 volunteers from nearby golf courses rolled into Blue Mound on Monday to help put the course back together.

The outpouring of support was an emotional reminder to Beson-Crone and his staff about their closely knit golf course maintenance community. “There is no chance we play golf today, half the course is underwater – that was my text to the USGA agronomist at 3:15 a.m. Monday,” said Beson-Crone. He continued, “Sunday night we bought or rented all the pumps we could find, but still didn’t have enough on-site to deal with half a foot of rain – the response when we really needed help was just unbelievable.” The reinforcements rapidly pumped out swollen basins and flooded fairways so other areas of the course could start draining, well ahead of when they otherwise would have.

It was an all-hands-on-deck effort and everyone from photographers and scoring officials to club members and security guards grabbed a squeegee or pump and jumped in the water to lend a hand. Following more rain Tuesday morning, the sun was finally back out over Blue Mound that afternoon when stroke play wrapped up and all eyes turned to Erin Hills for match play. Still, for those who were involved in the historic rain event at Blue Mound, a potential disaster was averted and we got to see what it takes to be successful in the face of a dark and stormy championship.