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Study: Golf Clubs Can Spark Wildfires

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Sparks from a titanium-coated club can ignite nearby vegetation. (Getty Images)

Sparks from a titanium-coated club can ignite nearby vegetation. (Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS Sacramento) – One of the first rules in golf is to keep your eye on the ball.

Now forestry officials are asking golfers to keep their eyes on the vegetation around them before they swing.

Scientists at UC Irvine say they have proof that titanium-coated clubs can cause fires, reports Orange County Register

Study author James Earthman, a chemical engineering and materials science professor, and his team brought rocks to a fire prevention meadow and hit those rocks with the clubs.

“Every time a titanium club hit a rock, we saw sparks like that flying out,” he said. “When we compared that with a stainless-steel-headed golf club, no sparks were observed.”

The hot, dry conditions caused by the drought make perfect kindling, and the sparks could ignite a small fire.

And if conditions are right, that fire can grow out of control.

Orange County authorities believe that sparks from golf clubs may have caused several fires, including one that burned 12 acres at the Shady Canyon Golf Course in 2010.

“What this proved was that you could produce sparks with these golf clubs that contain titanium, and they will persist in burning for well over a second,” said Earthman. “And that gives the spark plenty of time.”

“The temperature of these particles can get up to around 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” he added. “Titanium reacts violently with both oxygen and nitrogen in the air.”

Forestry officials advise golfers who land in the dry rough to improve their lie.

It’s better to take a penalty stroke than to start a wildfire.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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