What To Do During A Lightning Storm When You’re On The Golf Course

Golf Care, 27th August 2019

lightning on golf course

When you’re on the golf course, you should always expect the unexpected – as proven by the weekend’s events. Six spectators were injured following two lightning strikes at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, USA.

Sadly, this is far from an isolated incident. In 2017, one of our policyholders, 60-year-old Philip Shard, lost his life after being struck by lightning while on the course. Philip was the fifth golfer since 1999 to die on a UK golf course when he was struck while playing at Fynn Valley Golf Club in Witnesham near Ipswich, Suffolk. 

With these shocking instances in mind, Golf Care has created a guide on what to do in a lightning storm when you’re out on the course. 

Our tips

  • If there is a risk of lightning, don’t go out. If you’re already on the course, you must stop playing.
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a tree. Lightning strikes the tallest objects.
  • If you can, move to the clubhouse or another building near your location to find shelter indoors.
  • Avoid contact with electrical devices and metal. This means do NOT seek shelter in the golf buggy, don’t touch your golf clubs, umbrella or mobile phone and stay away from metal fencing.
  • If you’re in an open area and can’t get to any building or car for shelter, then squat down with your hands on your knees and your head tucked between them. If you feel a tingling sensation in your hair or on your skin, drop to this position immediately. Try to touch as little of the ground as possible with your body. This makes you the smallest target possible for the lighting. Do NOT lie on the ground.
  • Don’t lean against concrete walls
  • Avoid water and find a low-lying open place which is far from trees and metal objects.
    Don’t rush back out onto the course straight away. Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning flash before resuming play, as over half of lightning deaths occur after the storm has passed.

Did you know?

  • The average length of a lightning bolt is 2-3 miles, yet the width is just 2-3cm.
  • The temperature of lightning reaches 30,000 °C. To put this into context, that’s five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
  • Approximately 5 per cent of annual lightning deaths and injuries in the US happen on the golf course, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
  • Even golf pros have been struck by lightning. Lee Trevino was hit by lightning at the 1975 Western Open and suffered burns to his shoulder.

What to do if someone is hit by lightning

  • Call for help
  • Check for a pulse and if they’re breathing.  It’s safe to touch them, as they won’t be carrying an electrical charge.
  • Apply CPR if necessary
  • Check for burns – there’ll usually be two burn spots from where the lightning entered and left the body.
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