A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the company Young works for. He is employed by Schneider Electric.
LOUISVILLE – Willis Young won't hit a single golf shot during this week's PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. But he's still one of the most important people at the last major of the season.
Young is a Schneider Electric meteorologist who is charged with monitoring the weather.
With the forecast calling for chances of thunderstorms each day, Young will be at the ready to alert tournament officials in time for them to implement appropriate safety measures at this massive property. That could include evacuating tens of thousands of people.
Advancements in technology make his job easier.
In years past, Young said, huge computers were needed and they were driven off dial-up which would provide a radar from the National Weather Service. On-site weathermen would dial up and get the image. Then hang up.
"We'd do that every six minutes," Young said.
Today's weather instruments have increased the speed in which information can be gathered, analyzed and then distributed. Exact locations can be pinpointed now instead of having to punch in coordinates. Google Earth is a huge plus, for instance. As is a rotating vane electric field mill.
"Our ability to detect the potential for lightning on the site has changed over the years," Young said. "So when you have a storm building up overhead you're going see those charges in the atmosphere change and, knowing how they change and why they change, you can predict lightning."
That can be done with storms 40-50 miles away.
"A lot has changed over the years," Young said. "We'd have to have phone lines. There was no wireless internet. We never had cell phones. But now we have cell phones and texting, and Twitter and Facebook and everything tournaments can use to get word out to spectators that we're in a dangerous situation. That wasn't available 15 years ago. You'd have to listen to your local weather man. Now the information is instantaneous."
PHOTO GALLERY: This week at the PGA Championship