Has Anyone Ever Died on a Golf Course? Exploring Safety on the Green

Has anyone ever died on a golf course? This is a question that might seem out of place to anyone who enjoys the calm and peaceful nature of the game. Golf is usually known for being a sport that requires skill, patience, and a lot of walking, but not much danger. However, if we take a closer look at the history of this sport, we might find some surprising and tragic stories that answer this question.

There are various reasons why someone might die on a golf course. It could be a severe medical emergency like a heart attack, a stroke, or an asthma attack. It could also be a fatal accident caused by a stray golf ball, a golf cart malfunction, or a fall from a cliff or water hazard. Additionally, some golf courses are built near wildlife reserves or natural hazards like mountains, valleys, and rivers, which could pose a significant risk to golfers who are not trained to handle such situations. In any case, these unfortunate incidents highlight the need for better safety protocols, not just in the sport of golf but in all leisure activities that involve risk.

As golf continues to evolve and attract more players worldwide, it’s essential to keep in mind that safety should always come first. Though rare, the question of “has anyone ever died on a golf course?” remains a sobering reminder that accidents can happen even in the most tranquil settings. As we enjoy the beauty and challenges of this sport, let’s do our part to prevent tragedy by being mindful of our surroundings, keeping an eye on potential hazards, and seeking help in case of an emergency. Remember, it’s not just about winning, but also about staying safe and healthy.

Golf Course Accidents

Golf is considered a safe sport, but accidents can still happen on the course. Some of the most common accidents on a golf course include:

  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Golf cart accidents
  • Being hit by a golf ball
  • Lightning strikes
  • Animal attacks
  • Heat exhaustion or dehydration

While these accidents can be severe, it’s rare for a golfer to die on the course. However, there have been a few instances where a golfing accident has resulted in a fatality.

Golf Course Fatalities

There have been several cases where golfers have died on the course due to accidents. Here are a few examples:

Year Location Cause of Death
2009 Scotland A golfer died after being struck by lightning while playing at a course in Scotland.
2018 California A 79-year-old golfer died after being attacked by a swarm of bees while playing on a course in California.
2019 Minnesota A man died after being hit by a golf ball while playing a round with friends at a course in Minnesota.

While these incidents are tragic, they are rare. Golf courses are generally safe places to play, and accidents are usually minor in nature.

Risk Factors of Golfing

Golf is generally considered a low-risk sport, but there are still several risk factors that need to be taken into account to avoid injury or even death on the golf course. Here are some of the main risk factors of golfing:

  • Age: Golfers who are older are at higher risk for injuries and accidents due to decreased flexibility, mobility and balance.
  • Environmental conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as lightning strikes, heavy wind and rain, extreme heat, and cold temperatures increase the risk of accidents and injury.
  • Golf cart accidents: Golf carts are a common mode of transportation on the course, but they can cause serious accidents if not used properly. Golfers who drive recklessly or drink and drive are at increased risk of spilling, tipping, or colliding with another cart or object.
  • Equipment failure: Defective or outdated equipment such as clubs, spikes, and golf balls can cause injury to yourself or others.
  • Overuse injuries: Golfers who play frequently and/or with improper technique can suffer from repetitive strain injuries such as golf elbow, back pain, and wrist injuries.
  • Animal encounters: Golf courses are sometimes situated in areas where wildlife roam freely. Golfers may encounter snakes, alligators, or other dangerous animals that can cause injury or death.

Preventing Golfing Accidents and Injuries

While some golfing risks are unavoidable, there are ways to mitigate others. Here are some steps you can take to stay safe on the golf course:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, including other golfers, hazards, and any animals on or near the course.
  • Use proper technique as taught by a qualified instructor to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Always use appropriate safety gear such as a hat, sunscreen, and protective eyewear if necessary.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated during hot weather conditions.
  • Follow golf cart safety guidelines and avoid driving under the influence.
  • Regularly inspect your equipment and replace anything that is worn out or damaged.

Golfing Fatalities

While golf is a relatively safe sport, there have been several incidents of fatalities on golf courses. These include lightning strikes, golf cart accidents, and animal attacks. However, the chances of being killed while playing a round of golf are still extremely low.

Year Location Incident
2016 Bridgewater, MA A golfer was struck and killed by lightning.
2015 Youngsville, NC A golfer was killed after being attacked by a swarm of bees.
2013 Geneseo, NY A golfer died after being struck in the head by a golf ball.
2012 Columbus, OH A golfer was killed in a golf cart rollover accident.

While these incidents are tragic, they are rare and should not discourage golfers from enjoying the sport. By taking the appropriate safety precautions and being aware of the potential risks, golfers can stay safe and enjoy their time on the course.

Famous Golf Course Deaths

Golf is a leisure sport enjoyed by millions of people all around the world. However, like any other sport, it comes with risks. While rare, injuries or even deaths do occur on golf courses. Let’s explore some notable cases of famous golf course deaths.

  • Heather Farr: Farr was a promising young golfer who competed in the LPGA tour. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, but that didn’t stop her from continuing to play golf. In 1993, she collapsed on a golf course during a tournament and was rushed to the hospital. She passed away four months later, at the age of 28.
  • John Shippen: Shippen was the first African-American professional golfer. He competed in the second ever U.S. Open in 1896. In 1968, while playing golf with friends, Shippen passed away on a golf course in New York. He was 91 years old.
  • Ken Venturi: Venturi was a successful golfer who won many tournaments throughout his career, including the U.S. Open in 1964. In 1999, he collapsed during a tournament and was rushed to the hospital. He passed away a few days later, at the age of 69.

Deaths Caused by Lightning Strikes

One of the most common causes of death on golf courses is lightning strikes. Golf courses are often large open spaces with few places to take shelter from a storm. Here are some notable cases:

In 1975, Lee Trevino was struck by lightning during the Western Open but survived. Unfortunately, others have not been as lucky:

  • Roy Sullivan: Sullivan was a park ranger who was struck by lightning seven times throughout his life. The fourth time he was struck, in 1977, it happened while he was playing golf. He survived but suffered from burns and other injuries.
  • Ira A. Gerhardt: Gerhardt was a retired lawyer who was struck by lightning while playing golf in 2011. He passed away at the age of 71.
Year Number of deaths caused by lightning on golf courses in the US
1995 4
2000 3
2005 2
2010 1
2015 1

It’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that come with playing golf, especially during inclement weather. Always check weather reports before heading out to the golf course, and take necessary precautions to stay safe.

Death by Lightning on a Golf Course

One of the more dangerous situations that can arise on a golf course is the threat of lightning. Golfers love to keep playing despite the weather, but this can be a fatal mistake. In fact, over the past few decades, there have been several instances of golfers being struck by lightning on the course.

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lightning kills an average of 30 people per year in the United States alone.
  • Between 2006 and 2015, there were 65 reported lightning fatalities in the US, and of those fatalities, 21 occurred on a golf course.
  • From 1959 to 1994, there were over 40 reported instances of lightning strikes on golf courses around the world that resulted in fatalities or injuries.

These statistics demonstrate the very real danger that lightning presents to golfers. In order to stay safe, golfers should follow the safety guidelines established by the PGA. These guidelines suggest that golfers should:

  • Monitor the weather and avoid playing during thunderstorms.
  • Take shelter immediately if they hear thunder or see lightning.
  • Avoid areas that are more likely to attract lightning, such as tall trees or metal objects.

These guidelines can help to reduce the chances of being struck by lightning on the golf course. It is also important to note that if you or someone you know is struck by lightning on the course, immediate medical attention should be sought. Depending on the severity of the strike, the victim may need to be hospitalized for an extended period of time.

Year Golfer Location Fatal?
2016 Unknown Colorado Springs, CO Yes
2012 Pete Carlison Sparta, MI Yes
2009 Michael Carlisle Tampa Bay, FL Yes
1991 Billy Mehlhorn St. Augustine, FL Yes

The table above lists just a handful of the reported instances of lightning strikes resulting in fatalities on golf courses. It serves as a sobering reminder that golfers need to take lightning safety seriously in order to avoid becoming another tragic statistic.

Golf Course Heart Attacks

Heart attacks can happen at any time and any place, and golf courses are no exception. Many golf courses have experienced players and spectators who have suffered from heart attacks on the course. It can be a scary and unfortunate event, but it is essential to know what to do in these emergencies.

  • Number of golf course heart attacks: There is no accurate data to show how many heart attacks occur on golf courses each year, but it is not uncommon for golfers to experience heart attacks on the course. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and thousands of people die from heart attacks every year.
  • Possible causes: Heat exhaustion, dehydration, and the physical exertion of playing golf can put stress on the heart. Golfers who have underlying heart conditions or who ignore warning signs may be at higher risk of having a heart attack. It is essential to take breaks, stay hydrated, and listen to your body to prevent heart problems on the course.
  • Response to heart attacks: Golf courses should have an emergency action plan in place and be prepared to call 911 if a heart attack occurs. Some courses are equipped with AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators), which can be used to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. It is also essential for golfers to know CPR and basic first aid to assist in emergencies.

It is crucial for golfers to take care of their hearts and listen to their bodies while playing on the course. Recognizing the warning signs and taking preventative measures can help reduce the risk of heart attacks on the golf course.


Heart attacks are an unfortunate reality that can happen anywhere, even on a golf course. It is essential for golfers and course staff to be prepared and take preventative measures to reduce the risk of heart attacks on the course. Remember to listen to your body, take breaks when needed, stay hydrated, and know how to respond in an emergency.

Signs of Heart Attack Action to Take
Chest pain lasting for more than a few minutes Call 911 immediately and rest
Pain or discomfort in other areas of the body, such as the arms, neck, jaw, or back Call 911 immediately and rest
Shortness of breath Call 911 immediately and rest
Nausea, vomiting, or dizziness Call 911 immediately and rest

If you or someone you know experiences any of these signs, call 911 immediately and get help as soon as possible. Lives can be saved with quick action and proper response.

Safety Measures on the Golf Course

Golf courses are designed to be enjoyable for players of all skill levels. However, safety should never be compromised on a golf course. While rare, accidents can occur on the golf course that can lead to serious injury or even death. Below are some of the safety measures that can be taken to prevent accidents on the golf course:

  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Golf courses are vast and beautiful, but you should always be aware of where your ball is heading and who is around you. Never take a shot until you are sure it is safe.
  • Respect the game and other players. Always follow proper etiquette on the course. Don’t hit the ball if there is a chance it could hit someone, and never drive the cart recklessly.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and gear. Golf shoes with spikes can provide better traction on wet grass, preventing slips and falls. Protect yourself from the sun with a hat or sunscreen. If raining, clothing with water resistance can help stay dry.

Golf courses also have their hazards that require an extra caution. Here are some of the places that every player should be careful of while on the course:

  • Bunkers: Avoid stepping on the steep slopes of bunkers. Stay on the flat portion of the bunker and walk cautiously.
  • Water Hazards: Many golf courses have a body of water that players should avoid. Stay away from the edge as the banks and grass surrounding these areas can be slippery.
  • Cart Paths: These pathways are for use only by golf carts. Do not try to use them as a shortcut while walking.

To help players remember safety on the course, there is a sign in many golf courses describing the universal golf course signals:

Signal Meaning
One hand raised, flat Stop; do not continue play
Two hands raised, flat All players must stop immediately
One hand raised, waving side to side Players should use caution and be alert
One hand raised, pointing ahead Indicates where the group ahead is on the course

By following these safety measures and signals, golfers can help ensure that the golf course remains a fun and safe place for everyone.

Common Injuries on the Golf Course

Golf may not be traditionally seen as a high-risk sport, but like any other physical activity, injuries can occur on the course. Here are some common injuries that can happen and how to prevent them:

  • Back Pain: Golf requires a lot of twisting and bending, which can put pressure on your back. Make sure to stretch before playing and maintain good posture during your swing.
  • Wrist and Hand Injuries: Golfers, especially those who frequently play, can develop conditions like golfer’s elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome. Practicing proper technique and grip can help prevent these issues.
  • Sunburn: Spending several hours in direct sunlight can cause sunburn, which can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing, and stay hydrated.
  • Knee and Ankle Injuries: Walking on uneven terrain and twisting during a swing can cause knee and ankle injuries. Proper shoes with good support can minimize the risk, as can avoiding shots from rough or bunkers.
  • Eye Injuries: Golf balls can travel at high speeds and potentially cause serious eye injuries if hit directly. Always wear protective eyewear when playing.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Playing in hot weather can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Stay hydrated, take breaks in the shade, and wear lightweight, breathable clothing.
  • Struck by Lightning: While rare, lightning strikes on the golf course can be deadly. If you hear thunder, take cover immediately and avoid open spaces like tee boxes or fairways.

As with any sport or physical activity, taking preventative measures and practicing proper technique can minimize the risk of injury on the golf course. Always be aware of potential hazards and take steps to protect yourself and others around you.

FAQs about Has Anyone Ever Died on a Golf Course

1. Has anyone ever died while playing golf?
2. How often does someone die on a golf course?
3. What are the most common causes of death on a golf course?
4. Are golf courses required to have emergency response plans in case of a death or injury?
5. What should you do if someone collapses or appears to be having a heart attack on the golf course?
6. Are there any safety regulations or guidelines that golfers should follow to prevent accidents and deaths on the golf course?


Thank you for reading about the potential dangers of golf courses and the various safety measures that can be taken to prevent accidents and deaths. Whether you are a seasoned golfer or a beginner, it is important to be aware of the risks and to take proper precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Remember to always stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and be aware of your surroundings. For more information on golf safety and other related topics, please visit our website again in the near future.