COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Mother Nature’s water hazards are par for the course since the first Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin commenced on May 27, 1976.
Memories of downpours during the tournament are legion, occasionally pushing the final round past Sunday. Prior to this year, play has been impacted by weather delays in at least 31 out of 46 years.
Last year’s tournament was plagued by storms during the opening round on June 3, 2021, that resulted in two rain delays and a rare fog delay the next morning. Play was suspended again during the final round on June 6 due to an impending storm.
In 2020, the tournament moved to July 16-19, with a lightning delay near the end of the final round.
Scattered showers fell on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, May 30-31, June 2, 2019, yet largely missed Muirfield Village, with only 15 minutes of light rain during Round 1. The previous year, Round 2 was halted on June 1, 2018, at 5 p.m. On the final day, June 4, thunderstorms developed east of Interstate 71, just to the east of the action, though only a little rain fell on the course.
Rain has been an unwelcome spectator on six out of 10 tournament days, more than expected based on Columbus climate statistics. However, it should be noted that May is usually a wet month, with an average of 13 days with measurable rain–more than any other month.
The final rounds of the Memorial Tournament have been impacted by storms even more frequently, with Mother Nature creating water hazards on nearly 70 percent of the weekend tournament days, often coming down in tropical downpours.
For decades, some have speculated whether Chief Leatherlips, who is buried on the east side of the Scioto River, could have been dispirited by a golf course on ancestral hunting grounds?
A monument, erected in 1889 by the local Wyandot Club, marks the site where Leatherlips was killed by a group of rival Wynadots in 1810 for political reasons, according to some historians.
Chief Leatherlips had a good relationship with the five Sells brothers in Dublin and was widely respected as a neighbor and friend, said Jim Thompson, an author who has extensively researched the local history of the Wyandots, inspired by a family connection. His great-great-grandfather Joseph, who died in 1862, served as the caretaker of Chief Leatherlips’ grave for decades.
Thompson believes he was a local hero, adding that the name “Leatherlips” translates to “never told a lie.” During our interview in 2018, he displayed the hatchet given to Joseph Thompson in the 1850s by some of the last Wyandots to live in the area.
The Dublin historian posited that one of the reasons Leatherlips was executed was because he sided with the Americans on the eve of the War of 1812 against the British, coupled with his signature on the Treaty of Grenville in 1795.
Regarding the alleged rain “curse” surrounding the tournament is really nothing more than water over the dam. The chances of enjoying four consecutive days without rain in central Ohio during in late May and early June is less than 10 percent.