- There’s no official tracking of golf course deaths by lightning
- According to Quora experts, the chances of getting hit by lightning in general is 1 in 600,000
- GolfCartGo estimates that one golfer is killed per year
- One such incident in 2021 saw Joseph Slivinski, 71, die while playing at Pine Hills Golf Course in Taylor, Pa.
- Golfers should regularly check the weather forecast before playing to avoid being struck by lightning
- Install a radar app on your phone to detect storms in your area
- If you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately
- Avoid contact with metal and water if caught in a storm
- Squat down if there is no shelter nearby (make sure you know how to golf in the rain if there’s no lightening)
My friends and I were golfing in Miami Florida when a storm rolled in fast with a lot of lightning. We had been playing for a while and didn’t think it would be a big deal, but we soon realized that the storm was getting closer and closer.
We started to hear thunder and see lightning, so we knew we needed to take some safety precautions.
We started to head back to the clubhouse, but then the rain started pouring down. We didn’t have any umbrellas with us, so we started looking for somewhere to take shelter. We saw a building nearby and ran over, but as we got closer, we realized that it was just a small shed. We weren’t sure if it would keep us safe from the lightning, but we decided to take our chances.
We all crowded into the shed and waited for the storm to pass. It felt like it took forever, but eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out. We were all soaked, but we were glad to be safe. We thanked God that we hadn’t been struck by lightning and headed back to the clubhouse.
So how rare is a golfer getting struck by lightening?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the odds of being struck by lightning in the United States are less than one in a million. However, the odds of a golfer being struck by lightning are 1:250000.
Golf is a sport played in the open and is susceptible to elements such as wind or rain. Nevertheless, lightning is one of the most dangerous things a golfer can experience. The fact that they can occur without rainfall makes them more frightening.
While the odds of a golfer being struck by lightning are low, it’s important to understand several facts about lightning and how you can prevent yourself from being struck while on the course.
Facts About Lightning
Most lightning flashes are about three miles long, but some can stretch hundreds of miles. However, they only last a couple of seconds.
Lightning flashes heat the air they pass through to 50,000 degrees, several times hotter than the sun.
It doesn’t need to be raining for lightning to strike. At times lightning strikes 10 miles from any rain.
Lightning might be dangerous, but most people struck by lightning survive the ordeal.
Despite a high number of people struck by lightning surviving, Golfweek reports that 12 golfers have been killed by lightning while on the course in the United States since 2006.
History About Golfers that Were Struck by Lightning
There have been several cases of golfers and fans being struck by lightning. One of the most documented cases is Lee Trevino, who was struck by lightning three times, including once during the Western Open in 1975.
NBC reported a golfer being struck by lightning while on a golf course in Janesville, Wisconsin. He suffered leg pain and vision challenges as a result of the strike.
There have also been cases of fatalities caused by lightning. According to Golfweek, A golfer died in Pennsylvania after being struck by lightning while on the course. His death was the third one in 2021.
How to Keep Safe from Lightning while on the Course
You can take measures to minimize your chances of being struck by lightning. Here’s what you need to do:
Regularly check the Weather Forecast
It might sound simple, but frequently checking the weather updates before heading to the golf course can save you a trip to the emergency room.
Many golfers don’t keep their eyes on the weather, thus, finding themselves in the middle of a storm. Remember to have alerts for tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.
Install the Radar App
A radar app detects any storm near your location within a 10-mile radius. While most golf courses also have such devices that alert golfers, you must have your personal, reliable app to be safe.
Seek Shelter Immediately When You Hear Thunder
Whenever you hear thunder, lightning usually isn’t far off. It’s important to understand the 30/30 lightning rule. Count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, as it will help you determine how far away the lightning is.
If the time between the lightning and the thunder is less than 30 seconds, you should leave the golf course and seek shelter.
Avoid Contact with Metal and Water
If you get caught up in the middle of a storm, don’t touch anything metal. This includes your golf clubs, umbrella, and metal fencing or seeking temporary shelter in your golf buggy. You should not be near any puddle of water as well.
If there’s no shelter nearby, squat down and place your hands on your knees with your head tucked between them. This action makes you the smallest possible target for a lightning strike. However, it would be best if you did not lie down during a storm.
Finding yourself in the middle of a lightning storm can be a scary experience for any golfer. However, it’s possible to remain safe by seeking shelter immediately after you hear thunder.
Check the weather app for lightning alerts and download a radar app before teeing off. Keep away from metal and water puddles, and make yourself the smallest possible target by squatting down.
Ensure you follow these tips the next time a storm nears the course to avoid becoming part of the statistics of golfers struck by lighting.
Hi, my name is Vince Richmond and I am the owner of earlygolfer.com. This blog is all about golfing, from tips and tricks to equipment reviews and everything in between. I have been golfing for over 20 years now and love the sport more than ever. I am always looking to improve my game and help others do the same. When I’m not golfing, I can be found spending time with my wife and two kids or playing some other sport (I’m a bit of a sports junkie). Thanks for reading and be sure to check out earlygolfer.com for all your golfing needs!