Did you know there are eight million lightning strikes worldwide, daily? Annually,100-200 people are killed by lightning strikes, with many more being injured. Golfers and golf course employees are at especially high risk when hazardous weather approaches.

So how do you keep your crew safe from lightning strikes? We spoke to Brian Birney, CGCS, who has been working at The Everglades Club for the last three years, to find out more about how he handles lightning safety at his facility.

These are the four essential things to know when factoring lightning into your safety plan:

1. What is lightning, really?
Lightning doesn’t require a rainstorm to occur, all it needs to form is a cloud. This means that it’s especially important for you to monitor the weather to detect and prepare your crew for a thunderstorm.

2. What are the best ways your crew can avoid getting struck by lightning?
Your crew can only make informed decisions about lightning safety if they know a storm is coming. Most golf courses are fitted with lightning detectors and sirens. At Brian’s facility, all alarms are treated as highly dangerous. Your whole crew must understand how to effectively and immediately take shelter when those sirens sound.

3. How can my crew effectively shelter from lightning?
Brian explains to us that at his facility, all “employees, members, and guests are required to seek shelter once the alarm goes off. The golf course maintenance team seeks shelter at the golf course maintenance facility if they are on the course.” Brian also affirmed that If the alarm goes off, no one should be allowed back on the course until there is an all-clear.

4. What should your crew do in the unfortunate event of someone being struck by lightning?
In the unfortunate event that a crew member does get struck by lightning, the best way to reduce harm is to ensure that the rest of your team knows the proper first response moves.

Joe Dise, operations manager for golf safety(right), and Brian Birney, CGCS of the Everglades Club(left), pictured underneath the Clubs lightning detection system.

Lightning safety on the golf course is a collaborative effort between you and your crew and between the crew and their peers. A well-informed crew could mean the difference between life and death when the weather turns.

Brian says it best, “Our crew is the heart and soul of our operation. It’s my job to keep everyone safe because it is the right thing to do. My goal at the end of the day is to make sure everyone can return to their families in one piece.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how to educate your crew on these topics, just head over to the GCSAA website, where you can read our expanded article, “4 Essential Things to Understand About Lightning on the Golf Course.”

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