Monday, May 20, 2013

Lightning Safety on the Golf Course

     Recently I read an article in one of my trade magazines that dealt with lightning on the course.  It highlighted several cases from last year of golf course staff and golfers that were hit by lightning.  Some didn't survive.  With the season for rain and thunderstorms upon us, I feel it is a good time to reflect on some simple safety guidelines concerning lightning.

     Every year more people are killed or injured by lightning than by tornadoes, floods, or hurricanes.  In fact, it is estimated that in the United States, as many as 300 people are killed by lightning each year.

      Because golf courses are generally open areas with scattered individual trees, they can be a dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm.  A lightning bolt will take the shortest route between the cloud and the ground, which means that a golfer standing in the middle of the fairway or huddled under a tree is a prime target for a strike.

     However, there are several safety measures we can take to avoid being hit by lightning:

Ø  Use common sense

Ø  Seek shelter at the first sign of a thunderstorm

Ø  If possible, get off the course

Ø  Do not stand under a tree.  This is where most people are injured or killed

Ø  Stay away from water

Ø  Stay away from your golf clubs, these can act as lightning rods

Ø  If stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley

Ø  Listen for the safety alarm

Ø  Don’t take chances (you can play after the storm)
Tree damage after a lightning strike.
     These are just a few safety measures we can all take during a thunderstorm.  The storms here in the mountains can appear quickly, and many times do not show on the radar.  Because of this, we must act quickly and use our common sense. We all want to see our friends and neighbors on the course the following day.  Also, please remember that all members are responsible for using their own judgment in seeking safe refuge during a storm.

Lightning strike in the mountains.
Also, I want to thank all the members who have been following basic course etiquette in fixing ball marks, divots, and using the 90 degree rule.  It only makes the course better and after all, it is the rules of golf.  Lastly, thank you for your continued support.  If anyone has any questions about the course or any projects, please feel free to contact me.