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2 golfers stunned in lightning strike

The men were back on their feet momentarily after the bolt ignited tree and charged the ground.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


TAMPA -- As two golfers played practice rounds on Tuesday, sunshine lit the fairway, but dark clouds covered the horizon and thunder rumbled in the distance.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning hit a palm tree nearby. The tree burst into flames and both golfers were knocked off their feet. The lightning apparently went underground and shocked them where they stood.

Cary Loomis and Pat Patterson were treated by paramedics at the Countryway Golf Club near Westchase, but neither was taken to a hospital, said pro shop manager Bill Sherlock.

"One of the guys got up right away," Sherlock said. "The other one stayed down for a while dazed and confused. They were more scared than anything else."

Neither Loomis nor Patterson could be reached for comment.

In the 11 years since the Countryway Golf Club opened at 11111 W Waters Ave., this is the first time a golfer is known to have been shocked by lightning, said Sherlock, who has worked there for nine years.

He said Loomis and Patterson were hitting shots on a practice putting green next to the clubhouse at the time. He said the palm tree fire went out on its own and there was no other fire or electrical damage.

"It's not uncommon for the sun to be out when lightning is a threat," said Ray Yeakley, public information officer for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. "Golf courses are probably one of the common places for lightning injuries.

"These are wide open areas. We have several responses every year for people being struck by lightning on a golf course," Yeakley said.

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