How Not to Play Golf During Stormy Weather: Lightning Survival Advice

Being outdoors while there is stormy weather is always a rick, especially if you are walking on the street, gardening, hiking, playing outdoor sports or driving. Many people have been struck by lightning and a high number of them cannot live to tell the story. A lot or people (adults and kids) and animals (mostly giraffes, elephants, cows and horses, but also dogs, pigs, etc.) die each day because of lighting. When you are out there in the golf court you are more exposed as normally there are no high structures or buildings nearby.

Lightning can strike at any time even when there are no clouds to tell there is an impending rain!

This article does not intend to give a full description of lightning. I recommend reading articles or books dedicated to lighting if you need more information about it.

I do not recommend people to go outdoors when there is stormy weather and definitely do not recommend practicing golf during electrical storms (some people still like to play the risk incredibly). I will describe here a few recommendations for people to follow if you are surprised out there to minimize the exposure to this dangerous phenomena called lighting.

I am a golf player and I have been in the golf court when there is a sunny day and all of a sudden found myself below a fast moving storm cloud. Check your weather reports closely if you decide to play golf at any time.

Lightning can strike from the cloud to earth but it can also strike from earth to ground, from cloud to cloud and air to air. “Ground” does not only refer to the physical earth ground but also to any grounded element (metal lighting rods or not) or body connected to ground. The manifestation of lighting can be seen, heard, smelled or felt. Usually we can see a lightning from ground to earth but it can most likely be following a ground to earth strike due to the stroboscopic effect of lightning.

You can hear lighting and you can tell more or less whether the lighting is near or far or how fast the storm is moving in or going away from you by counting the number of seconds you hear the strike after seeing the light. You can feel there is an impending strike by feeling your body skin and feeling or seeing your hair rise. You can smell sometimes the electrically charged atmosphere near you by an ozone like odor.

If you are caught in the field playing golf the first recommendation is to put your clubs in the golfing bag and then get shelter. Never seek coverage under a tree. Look for a shed or building.

When lighting strikes earth it can be described as throwing a stone in the pond. A set of “waves” travel at light speed on the earth surface. This “waves” have the same voltage (equipotential) but the voltage difference between the waves can be extremely high. Try to walk in short steps as the longer the steps, the more risks you are exposed to get a higher discharge (due to something called the “step voltage” which is the voltage difference between your feet, the higher the distance the higher the voltage in the event of a strike).

If you feel an imminent strike get a crouching position and cover your eyes and ears.

I hope that the recommendations describe herein can save someone’s life, minimize the chances or getting strike by a lighting. Feel free to pass along these recommendations to your friend and loved ones. Play golf safely!