Atlanta, GA – Lightning strikes at the East Lake Golf Club on Saturday injured at least six people who were watching the PGA Tour Tournament.
Emergency medical responders rushed to help those fans and two others immediately and transported them from the course for further medical attention.
Authorities said lightning struck a 60-foot pine at the Tour Championship where they were taking cover from rain and showered them with debris.
According to a report by the Journal for Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) play was suspended for about 30 minutes because of storms in the area, and fans were instructed to seek shelter.
The strike hit the top of the tree just off the 16th tee and shattered the bark all the way to the bottom.
The players already had been taken into the clubhouse before lightning hit, and before long, East Lake was hit with a ground-shaking clap of thunder.
Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competitions, said there were dual lightning strikes to the maintenance area and the tree on the 16th hole.
PGA Tour-sanctioned events have not had a death from lightning since the summer of 1991. One man was killed and five were injured from lightning at the U.S. Open at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis.
Two months later, a man was struck and killed by lightning walking to his car during a storm delay at the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana.
The CDC offers tips on avoiding being struck by lightning, including:
- Immediately seek shelter indoors;
- Crouch close to the ground and separate;
- DO NOT lie down;
- Stay in open vehicles, structures, and spaces; and
- Stay near tall structures, among many other suggestions.
A 2016 report by the National Lightning Safety Council found that over 70% of lightning deaths occur during the months of June, July, and August, and more frequently on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays than any other days of the week.