Titanium Golf Club Hazzard

Titanium Sporting Goods – Sparking Innovation … and Possibly Wildfires

When a couple of fires broke out at two separate Orange County, CA golf courses – one of which came dangerously close to houses – fire investigators had to work hard to determine the source. When all the data was in, there was only a single common factor that could have potentially been at each location.

The culprit? Golf clubs with titanium alloy surfaces.

“Titanium-coated golf clubs can produce 3,000-degree, fire-producing sparks when they graze rocks, according to a new study.”

golf clubs

Titanium has become a popular material for golf equipment because many golfers like using a bigger club head. Since titanium is lighter than steel but still offers the same strength, these products can have a larger head without increasing the total weight of the club.

This all sounds fine, until one of them apparently sparked a fire in Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, California which burned nearly 25 acres before it was done.

After looking at both these fires, the Orange County Fire Authority Captain, Steve Concialdi, concluded that: “Each golfer had used titanium-plated three irons at the course before the fire. The ground was rocky on the courses, and while everyone was wary of that conclusion it was the only solution we had.”

So, with that in mind, they brought in some pros to explore the possibility. The findings were published in the journal Fire & Materials, but in summary, it turns out that if titanium-coated golf clubs strike or graze rocks, they can generate sparks that reach 3,000 degrees for one second – plenty to ignite any nearby fuel sources.

The thing is that while a light titanium club may make it easier to chip your way out of difficult terrain, this is the kind of area that is conducive to causing the sparks that lead to fires.

The investigation into the problem was carried out at the University of California, Irvine.  Here they compared various sizes of golf clubs with a titanium alloy head against golf clubs with stainless steel parts. The goal was to see if the surfaces would spark when striking rock under normal swing conditions. (The high-speed video of these tests is really cool to see.  The electron microscopy images were probably alright, too.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdsYHgG3jlI

They discovered that titanium alloy faceplates that extend to the sole of the club can produce those super-hot alloy particles when they hit the rocks. These particles are hot enough and last long enough to potentially light up any dry foliage nearby. In comparison, the steel clubs didn’t produce any sparks.

Does this mean we’re going to see the ban hammer coming down on these golf clubs at all the most popular courses and driving ranges?

Definitely not.

titanium golf clubs Titanium clubs are still in wide circulation and are perfectly safe when used away from dry areas. On top of that, while the evidence suggests that these sparks are possible, the actual occurrence seems to be pretty rare. In fact, the director of communications at the National Sporting Goods Association, Marty Maciaszek, said that the group has rarely heard of this phenomenon. He also said that the organization would continue gathering information, but for now they could only recommend that golfers be as careful as possible.

And that’s the answer right there. Titanium golf clubs could give you that slight advantage you’ve been looking for. You just have to understand that hitting the wrong surface could legitimately cause problems. Be aware of your surroundings, be careful with your swing, and the phrase “on fire” will remain a metaphor for your awesome golfing and not for uncontrollable property damage.

For more information on Titanium Processing Center visit www.titaniumprocessingcenter.com.

Titanium Processing Center (Corporate)
51513 Industrial Road
New Baltimore, Michigan 48047
Toll-free: 888.771.9449    |    Phone: 586.716.7555    |    Fax: 586.716.8430 

Titanium Processing Center Texas Group
8601 Fawn Trail Bldg. #2
Conroe, Texas 77385
Phone: 936-271-7773    |    Fax: 936-271-7783