It’s a minor miracle that I’m here to type this piece on lightning. On Wednesday, I met some friends for a quick nine holes around 5:15 in the afternoon. We teed off the back nine at a local layout, beneath sunshine and blue skies. The fellow, having played the front side, commented how much of a sauna the day had been. We smashed drives out into the fairway and proceeded.
As we advanced toward our tee balls, we turned left and noticed, some five miles or more to the south, the vertical lines of rain. “That will pass. The wind will take it east or west of us,” someone commented. As two approach shots were hit, the rain began to fall. No siren, no warning bells to encourage us to take shelter.
I stepped up to my ball and punched an eight onto the green, as sheets of rain came over the houses that lined the left side of the hole. For the first time, we heard the rumble of thunder overhead. “That’s out to the north-east. The storm is already past us,” someone else noted. Then the lightning hit, about 200 yards away, in the houses.
We didn’t feel it. We don’t have hair-raising stories of hair being raised, of being knocked to the ground, of absolute silence before the strike. We have a near-miss and a second chance at life.
We didn’t have any warning. There was no inkling that any strike was imminent, as the thunder, the rain, the flash came in so quickly, so suddenly, without notice.
Here’s another thought to put in your head: the minute a golf course or club purchases an advanced warning system and lets you know about it, it becomes liable and its insurance rates go up. Golf in any sort of weather is a prime example of let the buyer beware. If you go out on that course, know where the shelters are.
I had the ear of an important cog in the wheel of the course after my nine holes and he and I suggested that an assessment of shelter location was in order. The shelter we reached was way too far and far too insubstantial for a weather assault; it amounted to little more than a lean-to. I suspect that in the coming years, shelters will be built, relocated and improved at this course.
I hope to be around to see them.