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After six spectators were injured when lightning struck a PGA event in Atlanta last month, knowing what to do when a storm approaches could be a life saver for golfers.
Of the sextet of golf fans injured at the Tour Championship, none are said to be in life-threatening conditions, though that could have easily been different. According to a study by Oxford Brookes University, two golfers are killed on the UK’s golf courses by lightning strikes every year. In the USA, 5% of all those killed by lightning strikes are on a golf course at the time.
#ICYMI: Six people were injured by debris from a lightning strike Saturday during the third round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The injured were treated and released later in the day. https://t.co/JmYGvHGvpc pic.twitter.com/95Yxez2hQb
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) August 25, 2019
The most obvious piece of advice for golfers, is that if there’s a good chance of thunderstorms stay well away from the course.
However, if you find yourself on course and an unexpected storm approaches, you will often be given warning. Many golf clubs will have a klaxon that will sound a warning to players that there is danger in the area. With this warning, golfers must stop play and make their way back to the clubhouse as soon as possible.
But what if you are stuck on the other side of the course away from the sanctuary of the club house or any larger shelter?
The key thing to remember is that you need to make yourself as unattractive to a lightning bolt as possible. That means do not seek shelter under trees, as their height will obviously mean that they are more likely to be struck by a bolt.
Avoid contact with anything metal. That means not holding onto your clubs, and avoiding sitting in your golf buggy, as these are not designed to be lightning shelter!
What you should do if lightning approaches is the following: Squat down with your hands on your knees, with your head placed between them. Try to make contact with as little ground as possible.
By making yourself as small a target as possible, you give yourself as good a chance of avoiding the lightning as possible. Do not, lie on the floor as if the lightning struck the ground anywhere near you, you are more likely to suffer the effects.
So, in short, seek the shelter of the clubhouse if you suspect storms are incoming. If you are unable to do this, then ensure you come into contact with as little area on the ground as possible.
And remember, it doesn’t need to be raining for lightning to strike you. An electrical surge can hit up to 10 miles away from the nearest rainfall, so always practice caution.