Lightning Strikes Golf Course
By mustang6560 on 8/22/11
Have you ever wondered what would happen if lightening struck nearby you on the golf course? Well, insert example one and example two.
The pictures below are from Hawkshead Links in South Haven, Michigan. Lightning struck the fairway of hole eight Saturday night and left a three-foot deep hole.
I'm guilty of playing through weather on the golf course I know I shouldn't. Just the other week, I was playing a round with kickntrue and a thunderstorm started to roll in around hole 10 and we didn't decide to take precaution until hole 17. By that time, the storm was literally on top of us.
The fact of the matter is, getting struck by lightning on the golf course is an embarrassing way to go. It's easy to feel invincible and think "That won't happen to me". But, the reality is, even though the odds are against you getting struck, the reward (finishing your round) is not worth the risk (death).
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"It's easy to feel invincible and think "That won't happen to me". But, the reality is, even though the odds are against you getting struck, the reward (finishing your round) is not worth the risk (death)."
You speak the truth. When storms are gathering, get your butt off the course.
@bk- this was up near you. Did you hear anything about it?
South Haven is on the other side of the state and I have no more info than what you have posted. It seems rather unusual for lightning to just hit the ground and not an object (unless the object was obliterated by the strike and that is why we do not see it).
Here is a link to our local course's superintendant's blog. He has some photos of what lightning did to a mature tree on my "home" course. The strike blew all the bark off a major section of the tree.
Kurt the Knife says:
Images look more like an irrigation failure.
"Images look more like an irrigation failure"
Exactly! The little I could find out about this indicated that the lightning "blew up" an underground sprinkler line. I suspect you are right that some of the damage was from water flowing out of the damaged pipes.
Pretty sure you play that as ground under repair; but what about landing your ball in the mud outside the ropes, seems it would be same although not marked off?
"... what about landing your ball in the mud outside the ropes, seems it would be same although not marked off?"
A good question. The Rules always refer to a "committee". This group is supposed to decide what parts of the course are to be marked as GUR and which parts are to be left unmarked. If they marked a portion of the damaged ground as GUR but left a portion unmarked, then I think we would be stuck playing the ball where it lay. If the area were unmarked as GUR, in a tournament I might try to get a ruling. In casual play, I would feel that in equity, the area should have been marked and I would take relief, provided everyone in my group agreed.
Last year we walked out onto Buckinghamshire golf course right as a storm was setting in. On the first hole the rain started coming down really hard, then the lightening. As we started our way back in a bolt of lightening hit really close to us, the electricity seemed to travel along the wet fairway like a net of light. My friend was holding an umbrella and said he felt some electricity through the handle.
Needless to say we started running after that. Since we had only just finished the first hole the golf course gave us a rain-check.
I wish courses were more proactive about this. I remember growing up that the local courses would blow the horn if there was anything in the area. The league I play in the courses seem to just ignore the weather unless there is storm cell literally overhead. We've heard rumbles around us and the course won't blow the horn. The reason I fault the course is that they say that if any group has gotten past the 6th hole then the league does not get a rain check. I think courses should shoulder some more responsibility here.
"I wish courses were more proactive about this. I remember growing up that the local courses would blow the horn if there was anything in the area. The league I play in the courses seem to just ignore the weather unless there is storm cell literally overhead. We've heard rumbles around us and the course won't blow the horn."
I hear you. Around my area (SE Michigan) many courses have an automated monitor. Once the machine senses lightning in the area, the siren sounds. The "all clear" signal is not given until the machine senses no more lightning within the area. It is completely independent of human interaction. No one can go out until the machine decides it is okay.
Next time you hear or see lightning and no alarm sounds, go in anyway. My experience is most courses will give a refund if the player feels in jeopardy, whether the alram has sounded or not.
I don't care what hole I am on, when bad weather roles in you gotta be ready to head straight back to the club house or shelter if available. We had a sudden storm come up and were racing back in our carts when we came through a hole where another group of friends were playing. There was no rain but thunder and flashes in the distance and they were still hitting. They told us the chances of getting hit on a golf course are a million to one. I know the odds are less if I am in the clubhouse!
@tartantoml: good thinking - the state with the most people killed annually by lightning is Florida.
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