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The best time to golf is during the summer and spring. There’s nothing better than a day on the links and a nice round of golf to cheer you up.
However, these seasons come along with thunderstorms and poor weather in some places, leaving golfers wondering whether it’s okay to golf in poor weather. A lot of concern comes from using metal golf clubs and when people question “Are golf clubs lighting rods?” or “Do golf clubs attract lightning?”
In this article, I will try to answer all your golf clubs and lightning questions so you know when it’s safe to golf and when it’s time to seek shelter.
A common belief among people is that metal objects attract lightning. This causes them to be wary of wearing shoes with metal cleats, jewelry, or carrying metal items like golf clubs. If you live in an area where thunderstorms and lightning are common, you may be wondering whether there’s any truth to this.
Do golf clubs attract lightning and make you more susceptible to lightning strikes?
Golf clubs do not attract lightning because it’s too big a phenomenon to be affected by small objects. This includes any smaller metal object like golf clubs.
Lightning striking someone isn’t determined by metal or what you’re carrying, but rather by the location of the thunderstorm. Studies have shown lightning to miss rods altogether and strike the bare ground instead.
The only time metal or small objects can affect lightning is when lightning is already about to strike less than 3-5 feet away.
In addition to being wrong, this myth is dangerous. It instills golfers with the false sense of security that as long as they stay away from metal objects, they’ll be fine, and lightning won’t strike them. In truth, you should never be outside during a storm because if you don’t have shelter, you can get struck by lightning.
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Are Golf Clubs Lightning Rods?
While golf clubs don’t attract lightning, they’re certainly not lightning rods. Lightning rods are designed to intercept lightning strikes and keep people safe.
Golf clubs may not attract lightning, but they don’t protect you from it either. In fact, metal on your person can result in burn marks and other injuries.
Can You Play Golf In Lightning?
While you can play golf during thunderstorms and lightning, you shouldn’t do so. This is incredibly dangerous and poses a threat to your safety.
Lightning strikes are often fatal, with only 400 people surviving them every year. 10% of victims are killed, and 70% face long-term injuries.
If you’re wondering why golf courses are so dangerous during a thunderstorm, it has nothing to do with golf clubs. It has to do with them being extremely open and only having scattered trees.
Because lightning takes the shortest route to the ground, huddling under a tree or being in the middle of the fairway makes you more of a target.
Therefore, if you’re considering riding a storm out so you can golf, think again. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and there have been numerous reports of death by lightning on golf courses.
Avoid this by prioritizing your safety over finishing up your round of golf.
Lightning Safety On A Golf Course
The chances of lightning striking an individual aren’t very high but the possibility still exists. In the U.S., the odds of being struck by lightning in any year are 1 in 700,000.
In your entire life, the odds are 1 in 3,000. Between 1959 and 2003, there were 3,696 lightning-related deaths in the U.S. Lightning can also cause injuries such as severe burns, brain damage, personality change, and memory loss.
Therefore, safety on the golf course is critical. The following tips can help protect you against lightning when you’re out on the golf course.
Lightning strikes can be fatal so it’s best to be aware of the situation. For example, it’s important to know that lightning strikes up to 10 miles away from any rainfall. Many people end up dying because they wait until the last minute to try and seek shelter.
If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be hit by lightning. If you hear thunder, you should seek shelter immediately.
Additionally, it’s important to keep an eye out for increasing wind and dark cloud bases and seek shelter if you notice them.
Lightning can occur without visible clouds too, so if you hear thunder but don’t see clouds, don’t be fooled. Head to safety as soon as possible.
Get Off The Course
Don’t stay on the course or stand under a tree. You may consider the tree shelter, but this is where most people are injured or killed. Get off the golf course as soon as possible and go to a lightning shelter.
It should also be noted that golf carts don’t act as protection and aren’t a good option for shelter. A large, closed building is ideal for shelter.
If this isn’t possible, you can opt for a closed car or van.
If neither option (buildings nor vehicles) are available, it’s in your best interest to go to a less elevated area like a valley instead of being stranded in the open.
However, if you start to feel a tingling sensation or the hair on your arms starts to stand up, do the following:
1. Squat down like baseball catchers do
2. Balance yourself on the balls of your feet
3. Keep your feet together and keep your arms in front of your knees
4. If you’re with someone, make sure you’re at least 15 feet apart
Stay Away From Conductors
Water is a conductor of electricity, making it essential to stay away from it. Don’t stand in puddles of water if at all possible if you are stuck out in a storm.
Now that you know that golf clubs don’t attract lightning, you may be tempted to think it’s safe to stay on the course during a storm. However, I would strongly caution against this.
It isn’t safe to stay in the open air during a storm in general. Having golf clubs has nothing to do with this, but this is dangerous by itself.
I recommend that you stay safe while you’re on the course and seek shelter if it starts storming.