Titanium Clubs Can Damage Hearing

A group of doctors writing in the British Medical Journal have claimed that repeated use of titanium drivers can damage the hearing of golfers.

Here’s an excerpt from the BBC:

Ear specialists suspect the “sonic boom” the metal club head makes when it strikes the ball damaged the hearing of a 55-year-old golfer they treated.

They outline the details of this case in the British Medical Journal.

The man had been playing with a King Cobra LD titanium club three times a week for 18 months and commented that the noise of the club hitting the ball was “like a gun going off”.

It had become so unpleasant that he decided to ditch the club, but by this time he had already suffered some hearing loss.

Doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital carried out tests on the keen golfer after he attended their clinic with unexplained tinnitus and reduced hearing in his right ear.

The tests confirmed that his hearing problems were typical of those seen with exposure to loud noises.

In tests of six drivers, the researchers found that the Ping G10 was the worst offender, creating a 130 decibel bang.

The researchers also suggested that players use earplugs when playing.

I don’t even know where to begin with this story. When I first read it, I had to check to see if the dateline read April 1. But they apparently are at least semi-serious.

Still it doesn’t make any sense. A driver just can’t be loud enough to do that sort of damage—especially as the sound is dissipated in the open air. Just for comparison’s sake, the 130 decibel Ping driver would be nearly as loud as a jet engine at 100 feet (140 db) and is louder than a pneumatic riveter at 4 feet (125dB), a rock concert (115dB) and a snowmobile (100dB). Physical pain is caused by sounds over 125dB, so that Ping might cause players to flinch every time they swing—which can’t possibly be good for driver accuracy.

It’s only a matter of time before someone calls for golfers to wear helmets because people have been seriously injured when they were hit, or safety glasses because a tee popped up and scratched a retina.

When I read the story to the thirteen-year-old Thing One, he pointed out another problem with this story. Wearing earplugs on the course would only create an additional hazard, since you wouldn’t be able to hear someone shout FORE! to warn you of an incoming ball. Smart kid.

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