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Titanium-Headed Golf Clubs Create Brush Fire Hazard In California 169

Posted by timothy
from the match-point dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Things to pack in your golf bag: clubs, balls, tees, beverages and a fire extinguisher. The NYT reports that scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough, and last long enough, to start a brush fire. The finding, by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, clears up what fire officials in Southern California have seen as a mystery: the origin of two recent golf course fires in Irvine and Mission Viejo including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter in 2010. "That was hard for anybody to believe," says Steve Concialdi, a captain with the Orange County Fire Authority. "We were thinking they were started by cigars or cigarettes." Most clubs come with stainless steel heads, but a significant number have recently been produced with a titanium alloy, which makes them lighter and easier to swing. The only problem is that, when struck against hard surfaces — like rocks or concrete — the impact with the rock abrades the titanium surface, producing small particles — up to about one-fiftieth of an inch in diameter — that burned for up to a second, at temperatures high enough to cause dry vegetation to ignite. Given the drought in California and the extreme fire danger, Concialdi says the fire department is asking golfers using titanium-coated clubs to move their balls away from rocks and dry vegetation and onto the irrigated fairways. He says while golfers may complain it's making the game easier, it's too risky to do otherwise this season. "Talk about a hazard," says Concialdi. "We are looking at a severe fire season because of the drought, and no one should take chances with titanium clubs on dry ground.""
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Titanium-Headed Golf Clubs Create Brush Fire Hazard In California

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  • by vakond1 (986568) on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:36AM (#46562597)
    Yes, I agree that forest fires are a significant issue.. however, why can't they just stop playing golf when the state is hit by severe droughts? Not just the fire hazard, but a waste of irrigation water... I believe this is excess luxury which harms the environment.
  • by oscrivellodds (1124383) on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:42AM (#46562625)

    1) Golfer wacks ball + rocks with club.
    2) Club produces sparks that burn for up to one second igniting surrounding brush.
    3) Golfer ignores smoking brush and walks off after his ball.

    Makes sense to me!

  • easier? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pahles (701275) on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:46AM (#46562673)
    'He says while golfers may complain it's making the game easier' So they are using lighter clubs to make it easier, then complain they have to move the ball to the fairway?
  • Re:I call BS. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:46AM (#46562677) Homepage

    May cause sparks when they hit a rock. I haven't noticed many rocks on the greens of golf courses, but I'm not a golfer. Also, if a shower of sparks came off your club and started a conflagration wouldn't you notice?

  • Re:I call BS. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday March 24, 2014 @08:12AM (#46562881)

    I'm not a golfer

    Yes, obviously. There are no rocks on greens, but there are likely no titanium heads, either. That's where you use the putter. Putters need to have some weight to them since you don't swing them very hard.

    You might swing hard with a titanium head club on the tee or on the fairway, but you're unlikely to encounter rocks there, either. You're also unlikely to encounter dry grass.

    The problem is when golfers hit into deep rough, which can be far off from the fairway that you're intended to play from. Rough can be largely unmaintained. There can be fallen trees, tall grass, and rocks. It isn't irrigated, so it's likely to be as dry as wild grass. And, no, you may not see sparks on a bright summer day. Daylight in an open field on a clear is quite glaring. Even if you did see the sparks, you may not see any flame. The fire could smolder for hours as a tiny ember before finally flaring to life. That's why you're always told to cover a fire pit with sand before you leave it to ensure it's extinguished, remember?

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday March 24, 2014 @08:21AM (#46562947)

    You can "ignite" the bush without immediately creating obvious smoke and fire. People cause brush fires by stubbing out cigarettes for the same reason, they think "the ground I stubbed this out on is not currently obviously aflame, therefore I'm good".

  • by operagost (62405) on Monday March 24, 2014 @08:47AM (#46563161) Homepage Journal

    Electricity rates are skyrocketing. Why can't the President set his thermostat lower than 75 degrees in the winter?

    Who decides what is too luxurious? The politburo?

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