On a recent afternoon, our patented central Florida thunderstorms began to roll through, right on schedule. And as often happens, one big cloud parked itself over our neighborhood. Boom boom, flash flash, on and on, for quite some time.
I have seen people play through stormy weather so often on my neighborhood course that I hardly notice anymore. But this particular storm just wasn't moving. Lightning was flashing everywhere. And, my God, people were still playing!
Maybe I had a couple tourists on my hands here, people who simply don't know Florida leads the nation in lightning strikes. I stepped out on the back porch.
'Hey!' I yelled. 'That storm is right over us.' From 150 yards away, the couple turned and stared at me blankly. 'YOU FOLKS ARE GONNA DIE! GET OFF THE COURSE!'
I swear this is true: The man returned to his ball, took his stance, and hit, as if nothing was happening.
Folks, I've taken the liberty of substituting with a non-business topic this week because this message is so important, it bears endless repetition. Don't mess with lightning. Don't take the chance. Whoever you are, you have too much to lose.
A compelling story in the New York Times on August 27 by Michael Utley, a financial executive who was hit by lightning on the golf course, should be all the convincing anyone needs. An excerpt:
My group was just finishing at the 10th hole when a horn, the signal for a storm threat, began blaring. We rushed toward our carts, heading for the clubhouse, but we were still far out on the course when I was struck. My life changed in seconds.
I understand the strike had a halo effect. The other players heard a loud bang and saw me stumble to the ground. They say smoke came from my body. The charge hit my head and lower body and then exited through my feet. My shoes flew off.
For a long 10 minutes, my golfing partners performed C.P.R., forcing life into me. At one point my friends thought I was dead - I had stopped breathing. I 'died' a second time in the ambulance.
I remember none of this. A few days later I woke up in intensive care, but I didn't recover my memory for more than a month. Now, more than a year later, I am still working at rehabilitation from the physical disabilities I was left with.
Of course, even with those problems, Utley is considered one of the lucky ones. He lived. The best rule to follow: If you hear a rumble, vanish.
We've probably all been foolish with our luck. And I'll bet you have a story like this: When courting, my wife-to-be and I were playing Oakmont East, the public course near Pittsburgh. She was anxious to get in as many holes as we could before a storm came. We were climbing the long, uphill 12th hole to the highest point on the course when we heard a rumble and saw the flash. She stopped in the fairway, turned, and said, 'Hm. Maybe not.'
That's why, today, I have her. And we have our son. No one-more-shot in the world has ever been worth that.
Have you ever had a weather scare on the course?
Share your thoughts!