Fiery golfers

Research published in the journal Fire and Materials by scientists at the University of California Irvine, suggests that golfers using titanium alloy clubs when they are in the rough could be to blame for dangerous wildfires in some cases. They have demonstrated that when a club head coated with the tough but lightweight alloy strikes rock, it can produces sparks that reach several thousand degrees and persist long enough to ignite dry foliage. Fire investigators in Orange County asked UCI to determine whether these modern clubs could have triggered blazes at Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine and Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. The researchers painstakingly re-created in the lab course conditions on the days of the fires. Using high-speed video cameras and powerful scanning electron microscope analysis, they found that when titanium clubs were abraded by striking or grazing hard surfaces, intensely hot sparks flew out of them. In contrast, when standard stainless steel clubs were used, there was no reaction.