Golfers have to exert a lot of force and twist throughout their lower back in order to hit the club. As a result, some people wonder if this constant motion causes back pain injuries. This is just one of the many concerns people have about the sport.
In this article we will be looking at the different dangers of golf and how you can protect yourself from these incidents.
With that said, here are the 7 most common dangers associated with playing golf:
- You may end up in a golf cart accident
- Wild animals may attack you in the woods
- Golf ball may hit you in the head
- You may drown trying to retrieve the golf ball from pond.
- Get hit by a golf club from behind
- Struck by lightning in thunderstorm
- Suffer back pain injuries
1. Golf Cart Accident
Although golf cart accidents are unusual, they can occur on golf courses and country clubs. In some cases they can end up deadly. Statistics show that nearly 15,000 injuries occur around the world with just golf cart.
Making hand turns without breaking can cause the cart to flip over resulting in serious injuries. Also, it could be a problem with the golf cart as it may come with design defects which may cause the cart to rollover.
Due to the fact that golf carts are unstable, you should ensure that all your body parts remain in the golf cart while in motion. Never stick your arm out or put your feet outside the vehicle since a little bit of weight can cause the cart to flip. You should also be careful when driving on hilly uneven terrains.
So are these injuries painful?
Since a golf cart is lighter than a street-legal passenger vehicle, the severity of the injury in a golf cart will not be as close compared to a motor vehicle collision.
Nevertheless, golf carts are heavy enough to cause serious injuries when collisions occur. Golf cart drivers just about engage in the same maneuvers as motorists in passenger vehicles do.
Here is a summary of safety precautions you should take when driving a golf cart:
- Remain inside the golf cart
- Never overcrowd the vehicle
- Avoid distractions
- Use seatbelts
- Embrace hand signals
- Avoid sharp turns at high speeds
- You should have at least a class C drivers license
- Perform regular maintenance of the vehicle
- Don’t drink and drive
- Avoid bad weather
2. Wild Life Attack
You never know what kind of animal you will encounter on the golf course. There are many times when animals invade the course.
These animals can range from cute exotic creatures like iguana, capybara, squirrels and owls, to hungry wildlife predators like hyenas, bears, and leopards. Not to mention elephants, baboons, warthogs and the poisonous python. It’s a literal jungle out there.
So have there ever been wildlife attacks on the golf course?
The answer is yes. There was a story about a bobcat attacking a golfer by the name of Loree Osowski on a Connecticut golf course in the U.S.
The golfer, Loree, who was attacked was in his late 60s and was near the 7th hole when the bobcat sprung on his back. He had to use the same golf club to fight off the animal. After the tussle, the bobcat felt to the ground and the golfer thought that he was dead.
But as he walked a few steps away, the bobcat ended up jumping back up and taking off on him. It was rather strange that this happened, since most animals I know would just run off in a scurry after being hit. The golfer was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Another wildlife attack on the golf course came from Michigan when a goose attacked a school boy. The teen along with the rest of golfers were walking down the fairway after they had finished teeing off when they suddenly encountered a goose nest.
The goose began flying towards the school boy and ended up on top of him. Though the teen did not receive any injuries from the attack, he did however stated that his pride was injured.
Apart from that though, there are some things you need to bare in mind if you should ever encounter a wild animal on the golf course. According to Rule 16.2, a golfer may take relief in the event that the golf ball rests near a dangerous animal that pose a risk to physical injury. Examples of such dangerous animals could include poisonous snakes, alligators, bears etc.
No matter where the ball is on the course, if you see these dangerous animals in sight, then you are entitled to free (no penalty) relief.
3. Golf Ball Hitting You In The Head
Have you ever held a golf ball in your hand? If you have, then you should know that it is hard and could potentially cause damage if it ends up hitting you in the wrong places.
For example, a concussion can happen when you get hit by a golf ball in the head hard enough to cause transiency disturbance of brain function. The impact of the golf ball to your head can cause your brain not to function normally. This can result in headaches, dizziness and nausea.
These events are not often, but it does happen to players on the golf course. And when it does occur, it could be serious or even fatal, unless treated properly and quickly.
For example, it may be serious if the golf ball hit you in the side portion of your head, near the temporal area. As we know with boxing, if this area is hit hard enough, it could cause you to get knocked out and become unconscious.
According to annual statistics from Golf Digest, up to 40,000 people seek medical attention after being struck by a golf ball and flying clubheads. The only advice I have for you to prevent being hit by a golf ball is to duck or quickly move away if it’s coming towards in your vicinity. The key is to always be aware on the golf course.
If you should ever get hit by a golf ball in the head, you should leave the activity right away and have a doctor examine you to rule out concussion.
4. Drown In The Pond Or Lake
Drowning in a golf pond while trying to get out your golf ball might be one of the worst ways to die. There have actually been stories where golfers die trying to retrieve their golf ball from water.
In 2021, it was reported that a 90 year old man in Rogues Roost Golf Course died outside of Syracuse New York as he fell into a water hazard trying to reach a golf ball. The water reported to be 8 feet deep.
Another drowning event features a Florida golfer by the name of Jazmines who drowned after also searching for a lost ball. He unfortunately fell into the golf pond, investigators reported.
So what are the safety precautions you should take to prevent drowning in a pond or lake?
Simply, avoid going too close to these areas if you know you can’t swim. If you are going to retrieve golf ball from the lake or pond, you should reach out to the person in charge of the golf course and ask him or her how deep the water is. Getting an idea of the depth of the water can help you decide whether it is safe to go in.
You should also be careful of water life animals. You wouldn’t want be eaten by an alligator or shark, which is perhaps worse than drowning.
5. Get Hit By A Golf Club
We discussed how dangerous it is to get hit by a golf ball especially in the head. But what are the chances of you getting hit by a golf club and how dangerous it is?
When golfers hit their club, there are some chances that they lose control of the grip causing it to swing out of their hands. When this happens you should be careful not to allow it to fall onto your head as you could suffer head injuries.
You should never be positioned behind a golfer when he is about to swing his club. The club or iron can hit you from behind when he swings the club. The blame would not be on the golfer, because he is not aware of whoever was behind him.
The club can catch you in the eyes or your head which will lead to having you be escorted and treated for the injury.
If you are watching the golfer make his shot, ensure you stand a few feet away from the teeing area to prevent this from occurring.
6. Struck By Lightning
A golf ball or a golf club are not the only things that could strike you on the course. One natural disaster that could occur is a lightning strike. Although the probability of getting struck by a lightning is 1 in 600,000, the fatality of being struck by lightning on a golf course is 4%.
As a result golfers need to take certain precautions during thunderstorms. Many courses install costly lightning detection systems used to warn golfers of approaching storms.
At the center of some of the lightning detection system is an electrical storm identification device that sits on the maintenance building roof and is constantly scanning the sky for electrical and optical impulses.
It reaches 30 miles, and as soon as lightning is detected a signal goes off inside the maintenance building. It’s not until the storm is 10 miles away that course alert horns are activated.
At that time, golfers are expected to head inside until the storm passes. An ‘all clear’ is automatically given once the electrical storm identification device determines a lightning is at least 10 miles away.
So have there been deaths from lightning on a golf course?
Yes, there have been 12 documented cases of golfers being killed by lightning since 2006.
Out of the 12 unfortunate cases, 3 got hit while standing under a tree and the other 9 got struck while actively playing.
Due to the isolated tall trees and wide open areas on a golf course, it would be a dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm as lightning tends to strike the highest point it can find.
7. Back Pain Injuries
Golf swings can cause back pain injuries ranging from low, middle and upper back pain. Due to the repetitive motion and asymmetric nature of a golf swing, it could place added stress on the lower back resulting in inflammation and strains on the muscles and disks of the spines which is how back pain injuries develop.
There are certain steps you can take to prevent or reduce back pain in golf:
1.) Warm up properly
2.) Maintain Neutral Spine Positioning
3.) Improve Your Swing Mechanics
4.) Strengthen Your Core
Once you stretch and warm up correctly, you significantly reduce the the risk of injury and alleviate joint stiffness. The more stiff you are is the greater your chances of developing back pain because you are forcing your body to move pass the comfort zone, rather than using fluid and smooth hand swing motions.
These are the 7 dangers of playing golf. The most common one you may encounter is probably back pain injuries.
Despite all of this, you shouldn’t be deterred away from playing golf given that most of the dangers we mentioned above have a slim chance of occurring.
Every sport that you enter will have dangers to it. This article is only to make you aware of the possible circumstances that can take place on the golf course. Nonetheless, golf is a great sport that is good for exercise, making new friends and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.