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How To Stay Safe In A Thunderstorm On The Golf Course

It’s fair to say that playing golf in a thunderstorm is fraught with danger - just ask American professional golfer Lee Trevino, who was struck by lightning back in 1975 during the Western Open.

Whilst this is a rare example, the consequences of such a fate are very real. “The electricity stopped my heart”, Trevino recounted. “When I woke up, I was in tremendous pain. The doctor said if I hadn’t had such a strong heart, I would be dead.”

With this example in mind, we’ve gathered together a few simple safety tips you can put to use if you ever find yourself stuck out on the 9th tee when a thunderstorm rolls in.

1 - Don’t get your golf umbrella out

When the heavens open and the rain starts to fall, your first reaction might be to reach for your golf umbrella - but that’s a big mistake in a thunderstorm. Whatever you do, leave your golf umbrella and clubs in your bag, as the metal elements within these items can attract lightning and redirect it through your body.

2 - Leave your mobile phone in your bag

Another common move golfers make when they’re stuck out on the course is to make a phone call, but again we’d advise you leave your mobile phone out of reach. If you’re using it when the lightning begins to strike, you could draw it towards you with severe effects. A 15-year-old was struck by lightning when making a call out on the golf course and she was instantly placed into cardiac arrest - so stay silent.

3 - Stay away from any water hazards

Similar to the advice given to anyone in a boat or swimming when a thunderstorm approaches, you should endeavour to stay away from any lakes or other water hazards. You need to ensure you’re well away from the water’s edge too - electricity has been known to ‘leap’ so make sure you give any water hazards a wide berth.

4 - Avoid standing under trees

Another part of the golf course to avoid is the trees around you. Don’t use them as shelter - studies have shown that 25% of all lightning strikes were under a tree, primarily due to moisture. Electricity will always take the path of least resistance and as humans are 65% water compared to trees which are just 20%, you’re the more appealing route to lightning.

5 - If all else fails, crouch

This might sound embarrassing, but it could make all the difference. If you just can’t get back indoors or to the safety of your car, the next best thing you can do is head for the nearest bunker. Crouch down in the sand with your head tucked between your knees and your feet together. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of being struck and your vital body parts are protected.

So there you have it, some easy-to-use safety tips you can implement to stay safe on the golf course if thunder and lightning come out of nowhere.

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