This is what happens when lightning strikes Utah golf course

Posted at 7:23 AM, May 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 21:43:13-04

WEST VALLEY, Utah – Employees at the Stonebridge Golf Club in West Valley cleared the course late Monday afternoon when they saw a storm brewing, and around 5:30 p.m., a large bolt of lightning struck the green on the second hole, burning what's known as a Lichtenberg figure – or a web of dark lines - into the grass.

“Our superintendent, Matt Isabel–the next morning actually when he was taking care of the golf course--noticed that the lightning had struck the flag stick and then sent out that octopus-like mark on the green, and he photographed it and came in and shared it with us in the golf shop,” said Paul Phillips, who is the marketing director of the Stonebridge Golf Club.

That photograph went viral, receiving thousands of shares on social media, including on Reddit after a post by user Geoffreypjs.

“As of now, over 18,000 people have viewed that picture,” Phillips said. “So, it's really cool, typically we don't have 1 percent of that response for a Facebook post, so it's really been exceptional."

Meteorologist Christine Kruse from the National Weather Service explains how lightning leaves marks like these behind.

“Lightning struck that pole, and then, as it hit the ground, it looked for areas of least resistance and spread out; You can get up to 60 feet away from that pole,” she said.

Phillips says, during a storm, the golf course uses a loud-speaker to warn golfers to evacuate the property. But on Monday, he said there were still a few golfers out. Luckily, no one was injured.

“Definitely something you want to take shelter from, when there's lightning,  you know, we don't want to be out with our golf clubs because they conduct electricity, you know, so, when you see that, get off the golf course,” Phillips said.