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Why Golfers Might Need Earplugs

The golf course would seem to be a quiet and peaceful place, so why did an audiologist recommend that some golfers wear earplugs?A new report in the British Medical Journal from a group of doctors in England claims that the new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers create such a loud noise--up ...

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Golfing, courtesy of Flickr user chispita_666.




The golf course would seem to be a quiet and peaceful place, so why did an audiologist recommend that some golfers wear earplugs?



A new report in the British Medical Journal from a group of doctors in England claims that the new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers create such a loud noise--up to 130 dB--that one patient, a 55-year-old man who golfed three times a week, experienced high-frequency hearing impairment in his right ear. The man, who had been using a King Cobra LD titanium club for 18 months, said that the noise of the club hitting the golf ball was “like a gun going off.” (He finally stopped using that club.)



Thin-faced titanium drivers give an advantage to golfers in that they are better than older clubs at transferring energy to the ball (measured as the coefficient of restitution (COR)). But the aspect of its design that gives it a larger COR—the thin face—also affects how much noise the driver makes when it hits the ball. “Thinner faced titanium clubs, such as the King Cobra LD, have a greater COR and deform on impact more easily, the so called trampoline effect, not only propelling the ball further, but resulting in a louder noise,” the doctors explained in their report.



As part of the study, a professional golfer hit golf balls with six thin-faced titanium drivers and six standard drivers with thicker faces of stainless steel. The titanium drivers produced a louder thwack on average, reaching the level of a jet plane.
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About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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