Golfers Beware! New Golf Clubs May Damage Your Ears

Those new golf clubs you bought? The ones that produce a "sonic boom" when they hit the golf ball? They can permanently damage your hearing!

After a golfer showed up in the hearing clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the U.K., suffering from tinnitus and reduced hearing in one ear, doctors reported to him that his test results indicated that he had suffered from exposure to loud noises. What were those loud noises?

"Sonic booms," several golfers called the sounds made by the new thin-faced titanium drivers that have been catching on in the golf world.

The University Hospital doctors went ahead and tested several clubs from different manufacturers, such as King Cobra, Callaway, Nike, and Mizuno. They recruited a professional golfer to hit shots with six different thin-faced titanium golf clubs and, indeed, the sounds made were loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

The loudest sound made by a club was 130 decibels. That's around the decibel level of a gun shot. Sounds over 115 decibels can cause great discomfort, even pain, to the human ear, and the CDC warns against more than the maximum exposure time of 30 seconds per day.

Hearing loss may not be the worst of the problems. Tinnitus is a very unpleasant sensation to live with, not atypical in cases of noise-induced injury. Tinnitus is an internal sound, like a ringing in the head or the sound of waves or white noise. It can be periodic or constant. Some persons with tinnitus also experience vertigo.

Manufacturers have been engineering the new clubs to give golfers more feedback about their drives, especially when they hit that "sweet spot" on their drivers. It seems that the sound of the sweet spot is better for their egos than their hearing.


BBC News, Dangerous Decibels Photo credit: Discount Golf