The four men had planned for a day of golf in Stouffville, Ont., on Tuesday. Instead, they were taken to hospital after being struck by lightning, with one 60-year-old Richmond Hill man in critical condition.
Staff at Bethesda Grange Golf Course blew horns a few minutes before the lightning strike, prompting golfers to take cover at the clubhouse. Soon afterward, they found out that at least three men were injured at the 18th hole of the golf course.
"I think our people did everything they were supposed to do, and it was an unfortunate and rare circumstance," said Brent Miller, golf operations director of ClubLink, the parent company of the golf course. "Our biggest concern is the health of the gentlemen who were out there playing golf, that they're okay."
Mr. Miller said the four men who were injured, aged 51, 53, 56 and 60, were not members of the golf club and that he did not know more details. Two men were from Toronto and the two others were from Richmond Hill and Thornhill, according to York Regional Police.
Although witnesses did not know the men personally, several went back outside to offer help. An ICU nurse who happened to be golfing at the course revived one man who was not breathing and did not have a pulse.
Stouffville is home to nine golf clubs, attracting locals and golfers from the Toronto area. One of them is Granite Golf Club, where sirens went off at 11:30 a.m. according to James Clark, a senior associate.
The private golf club has an automatic detection system that sounds when lightning is detected within a 20-kilometre radius, according to the club's CEO, Walter Cheung.
"The safety of our members and our guests is our No. 1 priority," he said. "We actually added more sirens last year because we were concerned that perhaps there were parts of our golf course where members were not able to hear the sirens clearly."
At Timber Creek Golf, a miniature golf centre, the procedure is to inform customers at the counter when threatening weather is imminent, while keeping a watch on weather radars. On Tuesday, kids from two schools at Timber Creek Golf were told to go inside before the lightning struck.
"Long before the weather reached us, I asked them to get their belongings and head indoors," said Lois Reesor, manager of Timber Creek Golf. "We're high up, so we have pretty good view of what's coming."
"After yesterday, I do believe we will probably be getting a horn similar to a golf course," she said.