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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

FORSYTH — Fortunately for the organizers of the Forsyth Classic and the Symetra Tour golfers, Hickory Point Golf Course was thirsty.

Rain over the weekend, heavy storms on Monday and more rain Tuesday morning -- totaling 2 ½ inches -- conjured memories of 2015, when the final two days of the tournament were canceled because the course flooded.

But by the time Symetra Tour golfers began rolling in on Tuesday for their practice rounds in preparation of the 34th edition of the tournament, which begins Friday, the course was ready to play.

“As dry as it’s been, we were due for a good soak,” Hickory Point grounds superintendent Greg Foley said. “And it didn’t all come at once, so it gave it a little opportunity for some of it to sink in. Most of the course pretty well soaked it up. I could throw all the water I wanted to on it the week before and it kept getting drier, so a good soak was a blessing.”

Tournament director Cindy Deadrick Wolfer was running around Hickory Point on Tuesday making sure everything was ready for the “Par-tee” that evening, where the public gets a chance to mix with the golfers, and making sure golfers and tour staff had everything they need.

But her biggest concern remained the one thing over which she has no control.

“The weather. I’m always worried about the weather,” Deadrick Wolfer said. “There’s a lot of planning that goes into this, but weather can mess everything up in a hurry.”

So far, the weather hasn’t affected much. Staff had to wait until Tuesday afternoon before parking on the grounds, and players had to wait around more than an hour longer than expected to begin practice. But with high temps, mostly sunny skies and a light breeze in the forecast for the rest of the week, Foley said conditions are shaping up to be near ideal.

“The course had been getting crispy around the edges, so this rain really perked it up,” Foley said. “And if it rained more, we could take it. I’d rather it not, and the players prefer if it’s dry, but there’s no danger of the creek flooding. It would take an extensive amount of rain for that to happen, and looking at the forecast, we’re coming into more stable weather.

“Right now the course isn’t as firm as what the players prefer. It’s damp enough that it’s going to knock down driving distance a little. But, on the other side, greens are going to hold. And with a couple more sunny days and some wind, it should firm. Conditions should be good for scoring.”

Foley and Deadrick Wolfer said the days leading up to the tournament can be stressful, but their experience helps.

“After 34 years, we pretty much have a lot of it down,” Deadrick Wolfer said.

There is, though, a change many previous attendees of the tournament will notice. Before this year there were three places where lunch was served — the pavilion and skybox for fans and volunteers, and the clubhouse for players. Now, all food will be served out of the clubhouse.

“No matter what credential you have, all the food is in one location,” Deadrick Wolfer said. “Then people can either eat in the clubhouse, take it out to the pavilion or the skybox. That will streamline things. Before we’d have people in the skybox saying, ‘We want the brat you have in the pavilion,’ and people in the pavilion saying, ‘We want the chicken they have in the skybox.’ This will make it easier for everyone.”

Contact Justin Conn at (217) 421-7971. Follow him on Twitter: @jconnHR

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