I’ve been playing golf for most of my life and I can attest to the fact that it’s a game requiring a high degree of concentration and demands that you focus on what you’re doing if you’re to succeed. Therefore, when you’re about to hit your ball, common courtesy dictates that everyone around you stays quiet. As a matter of fact, watch any PGA tournament and it’s not uncommon to see attendants holding up signs saying “Quiet Please”.
So when I heard of a study in the British Medical Journal claiming that the new generation of thin-faced golf drivers are producing a sonic boom that can damage your hearing, I knew I was in for some good reading.
The study focused on the case of a 55-year old man who developed tinnitus and hearing loss in his right ear after playing golf three days a week for 18 months with a thin-faced titanium driver, the King Cobra LD. The golfer had commented that the noise the club made hitting the ball was “like a gun going off” and according to reports it was so unpleasant that the ditched the club but had already suffered some hearing loss.
Now this is where it becomes interesting. The patient’s doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in eastern England decided to test his golf club. The doctors recorded the sound produced by the patient’s club, along with five other titanium clubs, and compared it with that of older-generation steel clubs. A sound level measuring device was positioned 5.6 feet away from a golf pro at an outdoor tee (approximately the distance between a ball and a golfer’s closest ear). Doctors found that all six titanium clubs exceeded safe limits, while only two of the six steel drivers posed a hazard. Interestingly, the club used by the patient (King Cobra LD) was not the loudest. That honor went to the Ping G10 at over 310 dB!!
The lead researcher in the article stated that their results showed that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent hearing loss. He said that golfers should be careful when playing with these thin-faced clubs as they make a lot of noise and suggested they could wear earplugs for protection.
This British study clearly shows that if you’re using a titanium driver, wearing hearing protection may not be such a bad idea. More importantly, wearing hearing protection when teeing off will prevent you from hearing that upsetting sound that comes directly after the hit … the splash!