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Golf Tips from a Pro: Lightning kills!

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The aftermath of lightning strike on the ninth fairway at the Big Sky Golf Course. PHOTO BY MARK WEHRMAN / PGA


“Where there is thunder, there is lightning.” Words to live by, in my opinion. This opening statement is how we live and operate by at Big Sky Resort Golf Course.

Without the capabilities of a lightning detection system, like a Thor Guard lightning warning system, we have to rely on good old common sense when it pertains to inclement weather on the golf course. Knowing your local and current weather patterns helps, but when dangerous weather nears you must be able to know when it’s time to seek shelter.

So, I say to you again: where there is thunder, there is lightning. If you are on the golf course and you hear thunder that means lightning is in the vicinity. It may be 15 miles away and it may be five miles, either way if you continue to play outside you are putting your life in danger. When it comes to playing golf, that bogey, par or even a birdie is just not worth it.

Towards the end of May, we had a lightning strike that hit the golf course. The sky got dark coming over Pioneer Mountain, which is the direction where most of the storms that hit the Meadow Village in Big Sky come from. We had some hard rain followed by hail and a lot of electricity.

When the bolt struck the fairway on the ninth hole, it sounded like it struck whatever building you were in. I talked with some team members of our golf course maintenance crew and they said it sounded like it hit the maintenance building. If you were standing in the clubhouse, it sounded like it had struck the clubhouse. Bottom line—it was loud, scary and not safe to be outside.

So, I will repeat to you one more time: where there is thunder, there is lightning. If you are outside doing anything when inclement weather nears and you hear thunder, please seek shelter immediately! After all, even if you are guaranteed to make a birdie, it’s not worth your life or the lives of those playing with you.

Mark Wehrman is the Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course and has been awarded the PGA Horton Smith Award recognizing PGA Professionals who are model educators of PGA Golf Professionals.

Joseph T. O'Connor is the previous Editor-in-Chief for EBS newspaper and Mountain Outlaw magazine.

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