Soaked grounds tough on fans and players, not to mention the ice cream man

Soaked grounds tough on fans and players, not to mention the ice cream man

Adam Scott didn't face standing water in this bunker, but puddles were a problem for players all day during the second round.
Robert Beck / SI

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — The toughest job in golf is not being Sergio Garcia’s shrink, or Tim Herron’s nutritionist, or Jim Furyk’s barber. No, it’s working at the Purbeck ice cream stand adjacent to the driving range at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on a drizzly, dreary Friday, during which the saturated course took on so much water the pot bunkers doubled as bird baths.

Early Friday afternoon, while a cool wind was blowing and spectators' footsteps came with an audible squish, ice cream vendor Adam Pankowsku said, “Even for England, this is not good ice cream weather.” An amiable chap by way of Poland, Pankowsku was hawking, among other flavors, Serious Chocolate and the usually popular Banoffee, which is banana ice cream layered with toffee. “I think we’d do better selling hot cocoa,” he added.

In the merchandise tent, the ridiculously overpriced hats and outerwear were still flying off the shelves. “We should be selling cashmere socks,” said one salesgirl, who asked not to be identified. (“We were told not to speak with the media,” she explained, clearly hiding something.)

The sodden grounds at Lytham are inconvenient for spectators and unfortunate for aficionados of links golf. It’s discouraging to see approach shots stopping stone-dead on the greens; forcing players into a different style of play is one of the Open’s great charms. It is downright surreal to see whitecaps in the bunkers. Rory McIlroy, who hails from rainy Northern Ireland, said it was the first time he’s ever played a tournament round with standing water in the bunkers. Players were able to take relief from the puddles, but that was no picnic, either. Said Branden Grace, “You drop it in the bunker, it’s going to plug and there’s no way out or no way forward.”

The funny thing is that as Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott pushed deeper into red figures, most of the other players began openly rooting for nasty weather, which could be helpful in bringing the leaders back within reach. “The forecast is for no wind, isn’t it?” said Padraig Harrington, who is two over for the tournament after a second-round 72. “So that’s no use to me tomorrow if I’m out early.” Grace echoed the sentiment, saying,  “Hopefully the weather gets a little bit tough out there, for my sake.”

Alas, late Friday afternoon turned almost pleasant. That was good news at the ice cream stand, where there was plenty of Banoffee to go around.