You might want to ask for a mulligan if this happens. Scientists at UC Irvine announced Wednesday that titanium-coated clubs can cause plants and grass on golf courses to catch on fire.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi told the Associated Press that the results confirm suspicions investigators have had that titanium clubs caused a fire that burned 25 acres at Irvine's Shady Canyon in 2010 and a much smaller fire a year later at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo that burned close to homes. Both fires are now believed to be started when a golfer struck a rock when trying to hit a golf ball that had gone off course.

"The common denominator was each golfer used a titanium club, and hit the ball just out of bounds next to dry vegetation where the ground was extremely rocky," he said.

Using high-speed cameras and electron microscopes, the Irvine scientists found that if hit upon a rock, clubs containing titanium can produce sparks of up to 3,000 degrees that will burn for more than a second, said James Earthman, a chemical engineering and materials science professor and an author of the study.

"And that gives the spark plenty of time" to ignite nearby foliage, he said. "Titanium reacts violently with both oxygen and nitrogen in the air."

In contrast, when standard stainless steel clubs were used, there was no reaction.



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