Examples of players, caddies, fans collapsing or being struck by lightning on golf courses

  • In Sports/Golf
  • 2023-02-06 20:00:22Z
  • By USA TODAY Sports - Golfweek

A frightening incident occurred on Friday during the second round of the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am when the caddie for an amateur player, Pebble Beach businessman Geoff Couch, collapsed on the course while the group including Tour pros Beau Hossler and Max McGreevy and country singer Lukas Nelson were playing the 11th hole.

The caddie received CPR at the scene and was transported to a local hospital. He is alive but there were no additional reports on his condition as of Saturday morning.

Todd Lewis of Golf Channel reported that the person was expected to survive.

After the caddie was transported, PGA Tour rules officials encourage Hossler and McGreevy to continue playing but both said they were too shaken at that point. Other groups began playing through and Hossler and McGreevy returned to the course two hours later after receiving assurances the caddie was out of danger.

Both of them finished the 11th hole with pars and both bogeyed the 12th hole. Hossler played his last eight holes at 1-under and shot 72 and McGreevy played even par after returning and shot 75.

Incidents such as that are rare but every PGA Tour event has numerous first-aid stations and first responders within a short cart ride of any spot on the course. The Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass, for example, has six first-aid stations, a main medical facility and an entire committee of doctors, nurses and EMTs who volunteer for the tournament each year.

Other notable cases of players, caddies, or fans falling ill or victims of severe weather at professional golf tournaments:

Western Open: 1999

PGA Tour caddie Garland Dempsey collapsed from a heart attack at the Cog Hill Golf Club during the 1999 Western Open. He was working for John Maginnes at the time had had his heart attack on the 15th hole. He received on-course CPR and electric shock and regained consciousness three days later.

Western Open: 1975


Lee Trevino reacts during the 1971 U.S. Open Golf Championship title at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

Lee Trevino, Bobby Nichols and Jerry Heard were struck by lightning near the 13th hole of the Butler National Golf Club in Oakbrook, Ill., during the 1975 Western Open. Trevino and Heard eventually had surgery to correct the injuries. That led to Trevino's oft-repeated joke to hold a 1-iron up in a storm, "because even God can't hit a 1-iron."

U.S. Open: 1991

Hazeltine National Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club  

Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota. Photo by USA TODAY Sports

A spectator, Billy Fadell, was killed and five other people injured when lightning struck them as they huddle under a tree on the 16th fairway of the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., during the first round of the 1991 U.S. Open. After that, all major golf governing bodies and event clubs began upgrading their lightning detection systems and weather protocols.

Retief Goosen: Junior event 1984

Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen  

Retief Goosen wins the 2004 U. S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, June 20, 2004. Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

One of the most notable cases of a player struck by lightning didn't happen in a pro event. Retief Goosen, who went on to win two U.S. Opens and be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, was hit by lightning on the putting green while playing in a junior tournament in South Africa when he was 15. He awoke in a hospital later. His mother saved the burned clothes and shoes he was wearing that day and he donated them to the Hall of Fame.

Honda Classic: 2016


Jason Bohn at the 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

Tour player Jason Bohn began experiencing chest pains shortly after finishing his second round of the 2016 Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. After being taken to the hospital, tests showed his left anterior descending artery was 99 percent blocked. After treatment, he was able to resume his Tour schedule less than two months later.

Caddie deaths: 2014, 2016, 2021

Three caddies at other professional tours have died on the course in the last decade: PGA Tour Latinoamerca caddie Albert Olguin in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico in 2021, Ladies European Tour caddie Max Zechmann at Dubai in 2016 and European Tour caddie Ian MacGregor at Madeira Island in 2014.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek


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