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Thunderstorms, Lightning And Golf - Do's And Don'ts

Updated: Jun 12

Thunderstorms on the golf course must be taken extremely seriously especially as golf course accounts for about 5% of all lightning fatalities in the USA. Lightning is one of the scariest and most dangerous events golfers will encounter on the golf course and there is great potential for harm is not properly handled.

Thunder Means Lightning Is Nearby.

According to ready.gov’s section on “Thunderstorms & Lightning,” lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related causes of fatality in the U.S, causing 51 deaths on average per year.

Lightning seeks the path of least resistance on its way to the ground, and the human body is a good conductor due to the body’s large percentage of water. While metal is a better conductor (lightning travels easily—and over long distances—through metal objects such as fences and railroad tracks), if you live in an area with frequent thunderstorms (and enjoy playing golf even in weather), then you are at risk.

Golf courses in areas of frequent thunderstorms may have bad weather procedures (such as sirens) in place to warn golfers. Here are some Do's and Don'ts If Caught On the Golf Course During Lightning Storm:

  • If lightning strikes are flashing, immediately make your way to the clubhouse, pro shop, your vehicle or designated lightning shelters (if any).

  • AVOID open-sided buildings do not provide protection from lightning even if they have a lightning rod).

  • If caught on the course and unable to get off, AVOID open high ground and isolated large trees. Do NOT stand under trees.

  • GETAWAY from the cart and LEAVE your golf clubs.

  • AVOID water (swimming pools, lakes, ponds, rivers), beaches, and boats

  • AVOID contact with electrical devices or metal (including some golf clubs, umbrellas, golf carts, etc.) and take off any metal spikes.

  • Do NOT lean against concrete walls and stay away from doors, windows, and metal objects (such as pipes, faucets, or metal fencing)

  • If stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley, or the lowest spot you can find.

  • Seek shelter inside a building or within a nearby automobile, but NOT a convertible or golf cart

  • If you are in an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods, and try to reach the indoors whenever safely possible.

  • If you are in a forest or heavily tree-covered area, best advice: seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees

  • If no safe shelter is available ... stay AWAY from the tallest objects (trees, light poles, flag poles), metal objects (fences or golf clubs), standing pools of water, and fields.

  • A tingling sensation, or the hair on your arms standing up..., during a lightning storm is a warning of an imminent, nearby lightning strike. Immediately squat in a baseball catcher’s position with your arms in front of your knee and around your legs.

  • If in a group, members of the group should keep at least 15 feet apart.

Remember: Be on alert for weather conditions especially thunderstorms - in the event of lightning, leave the course and seek shelter immediately. Don't risk your safety.

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