Unfortunately, over the past decade an increase in wildfires has led to some events being impacted by smoke and poor air quality. Smoke and air quality is an extremely difficult thing to monitor, and conditions can change in an instant. This protocol is designed to guide the Sacramento Golf Council Tournament Director when dealing with air quality issues impacting an event.
We have developed this set of guidelines in consultation with NCGA. There are a number of different sites and even different scales that monitor air quality. The SGC will primarily use airnow.gov which is the site from the EPA, but in many cases a site called Purple Air provides more up-to-date real-time readings and has been very accurate in remote areas. A combination of the two sites and on-site conditions will be used to make decisions regarding events.
In general, we will make any decisions regarding canceling any event on the actual day of play to evaluate conditions in real-time. Because wind-shifts and conditions can change drastically in a short period of time we want to make sure we make the decision based on what is happening that day.
If AQI levels are predicted to be in the range that could result in a cancelation, players and volunteers will be notified by the SGC Tournament Director (or their designee) the day before the event about the possibility of cancellation. In some cases, wind forecasts and local conditions are consistent enough to be able to inform players of the situation and cancel an event in advance. When cancelling a day in advance, The SGC Tournament Director and the golf course Tournament Director or General Manager shall make this decision together. When possible, this should be done to help avoid players incurring unnecessary travel and cancellation costs. Should the event be cancelled, a follow up email will be sent to the players and volunteers by the SGC Tournament Director (or their designee).
Following the recommendations of the AQI scale itself and other sports organizations like the NCAA, AQI starts becoming a concern when it reaches levels above 150. These will be used to determine whether to cancel a tournament or suspend play during a tournament.
• AQI under 150, the tournament will proceed
• AQI from 150-200 the tournament can start or continue playing with careful monitoring. Players who wish to withdraw because of reasonable health concerns will be issued a full refund. For those who withdraw, the golf course will adjust the contract to account for the withdrawals and will not charge for the green fee and/or cart fee. The SGC Tournament Director and golf course Tournament Director or GM will work together to consider wind conditions and other factors that will change the AQI throughout the day, making the decisions together. Volunteers are welcome to stay inside when AQI levels are from 150 to 200 if they wish.
• If the AQI reaches 200 or more for over 30 minutes just prior to the round, the event should be cancelled.
• If the AQI reaches 200 or higher during the round, the AQI should be monitored for 30 minutes during play to assess the trend moving forward. If the AQI continues over 200, the tournament should be cancelled or suspended (if the golf course can accommodate a suspension without a major negative impact to other golfers and golf events). If less than 4 holes are left, play may continue to complete the round.