SURVIVE THE STORM: How golf courses are keeping people safe from lightning

Published: Apr. 2, 2017 at 8:19 PM CDT
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On average forty-nine people die from lightning every year in the U.S. Most were enjoying outdoor activities, surprisingly not many people get struck by lightning while golfing. That's due to an increase in safety.

You can get struck by lightning while holding up a golf club on the fairway because it acts like a lightning rod, making you a tall object on the course.

“They appreciate the fact that not only we are here for their service, but for their safety also,” said Derek Wilkerson, CGCS Highland Springs Country Club.

Derek Wilkerson the superintendent of Highland Springs Country Club

says they have a weather station sponsored by the PGA Tour.

“We’re obviously able to measure precipitation amounts, we’re able to measure evapotranspiration. We can measure wind speed and wind direction," Wilkerson said. "It all communicates via cellular service back to the internet and then able to access on the website.”

It shows you how far away the lightning is and sends alerts when it's within thirty miles.

“At ten miles out is when we elect as a club as a facility to bring our team members, our employees in for safety and we also notify the members, the golfers at ten miles that lightning is in the area and they should seek shelter,” Wilkerson shares.

It also predicts where future lightning will be. Golfers are allowed back on the course fifteen minutes after the lightning is over.

Some courses have a lightning detection system. Most places though use the radar on a weather app and then signal golfers with an air horn.

“There’s a safety factor there that I have upon myself, knowing that employees are protected along with the members and golfing guests," said Wilkerson. "That if we follow protocol at ten miles we’re going to notify everybody, and everybody has a very good chance of not being hurt.”

Next tine you're out taking a swing on the fairway and you see lightning head indoors to wait out the storm. Once it's out of the area finish your game.