Helpful tips for golfers during thunderstorms


UXBRIDGE, ON— As we all know, a golf course can be a very relaxing, tranquil place. Yet in the blink of an eye, dark clouds can roll in and a thunderstorm can turn the course into an unsafe environment, especially if you are far from the clubhouse. Add to the fact that golf is a game played with metal implements and things even more dangerous.

The first thing golfers should do when they hear the horn is stop playing and head for the club house or shelter.  You should avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences.  It is extremely important not to stand under lone trees as that is where the most people are injured or killed. You should move away from your clubs and golf cart.

When seeking an on course shelter, it needs to be a building with four sides and electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows up.  Open-sided buildings do not provide protection from lightning even if they have a lightning rod.

A good rule for everyone is: “If you can see it (lightning), flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it.” Environment Canada offers a 30-30 rule as well. They say if you can count 30 seconds or less between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder, take shelter and stay there until 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.

If someone is struck by lightning it is important to call 911 immediately as the person has received an electrical shock and may be burned or have other injuries. It is ok to handle the person as lightning strikes do not leave an electrical charge in the victim. Give first aid and if their heart has stopped beating a trained person should give CPR.

All GAO championships and multi-day events have a course evacuation plan in place prior to the beginning of the practice round.

The tournament director will monitor the online weather systems in the event that there is any potential of dangerous weather.

If there is dangerous weather, rules officials will be advised of an impending suspension and the officials with air-horns will be located at positions on the course such that all players will be able to hear the signal.  Suspensions for a dangerous situation are signalled with one prolonged note.

Rule officials will assist in the evacuation process and conduct a sweep of their zone to ensure that all players, caddies and volunteers are off the golf course.

When play is suspended for a dangerous situation, all practice facilities on the premises are included in the suspension. All facilities remain closed until the committee reopens the practice areas.

Follow these tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable season on the golf course.