Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lightning On The Golf Course

How many times have you been playing a great round of golf and all of a sudden a storm rolls in and all around you there is lightning? Well, I have a story for you.

Last weekend our Men's club took a trip to Green Valley, AZ to play a really nice course. We rented a bus, so that nobody had to worry about drinking and driving. We arrived about 40 minutes before our first tee time. I was in the third group, I hit a great little 2 Hybrid down the middle and we were off. On the 2nd fairway, it started to sprinkle, and by the 3rd tee box, it was pounding down huge raindrops. By the 3rd green, the temperature had dropped by 10 degrees and the rain was sideways. On the 4th tee, it started to thunder and lightning. Definately my least favorite time to be on the golf course. I figured that we would hear the horn any minute. But, the horn never blew. By hole #7 we were done, completely soaked, and very cold. So, we headed to the clubhouse. As the Tournament Director for the Men's Club, I walked into the Pro Shop and asked the guy at the counter if we could get a rain check for the group. He pointed to a sign on the counter that said "We do not issue rain checks." I was dumbfounded. I asked him why they hadn't blown the horn for the lightning. He said "We don't close the course." Again, I was dumbfounded. I asked if we could talk to the Pro, he said he was off this weekend. (What Pro takes a weekend off?)

As a former Golf Professional, I cannot imagine not closing the course for lightning. Plus, with rain that hard for nearly two hours, the course was starting to get saturated. I asked him to call the ranger and have all of our groups to come in, because it was too dangerous on the course. He did and the rest of the guys that hadn't come in, did so. Some guys only played 3 holes, some played 8 or 9.

We went to the restaurant/bar and ordered lunch and drinks. After a little while, we decided that the weather was not going to cooperate and decided once everyone had lunch, we would load the bus and go home.

I went back to the Pro Shop and the guy offered to give us $15 per person as a refund. It wasn't what we wanted, but we took it.

As you can imagine, the two hour trip home was not much fun. Except for all the drinks we had. The entire group was ticked off about the outcome. To say the least, we will not be going back to that course anytime soon.

Here is the USGA's policy on lightning. I think I should send a copy of it to the Pro, what do you think?
Suspension of Play Due to a Dangerous Situation (Note to Rule 6-8b)

As there have been many deaths and injuries from lightning on golf courses, all clubs and sponsors of golf competitions are urged to take precautions for the protection of persons against lightning. Attention is called to Rules 6-8 and 33-2d. If the Committee desires to adopt the condition in the Note under Rule 6-8b, the following wording is recommended:

"When play is suspended by the Committee for a dangerous situation, if the players in a match or group are between the play of two holes, they must not resume play until the Committee has ordered a resumption of play. If they are in the process of playing a hole, they must discontinue play immediately and not resume play until the Committee has ordered a resumption of play. If a player fails to discontinue play immediately, he is disqualified, unless circumstances warrant waiving the penalty as provided in Rule 33-7.

The signal for suspending play due to a dangerous situation will be a prolonged note of the siren."

The following signals are generally used and it is recommended that all Committees do similarly:

· Discontinue Play Immediately:
One prolonged note of siren.

· Discontinue Play:
Three consecutive notes of siren, repeated.

· Resume Play:
Two short notes of siren, repeated.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

That's a travesty. I can't believe they let you carry on in the lightening! We don't get it much here in the UK but it's frightening when it does happen. You've got to get off the course quick.

That's such a shame when you've spent all that money hiring a bus and getting all your friends to the course only for them to stitch you up like that.

Take a trip to the UK Scott! Sometimes it rains but very rarely lightening and there's some of the finest courses in the world here, you'll all love it! Jon Ashworth