Your golf game might be causing a problem with your hearing. Fortunately, the actual game of golf is not the culprit. The problem lies with the improvements golf clubs used by many to achieve longer drives. Today’s golf clubs are made to produce a whip-like action. The whip-like action speeds up the clubhead as it makes contact with the ball. In doing so, the large, titanium club head creates a loud PING sound that’s been described as sounding “like a gun going off.”
Time magazine reported on a study from the British Medical Journal, “The British Medical Journal found that modern thin-faced titanium golf clubs produce a noise loud enough to damage the sensitive hairs of the inner ear. Provocatively titled “Is Golf Bad for Your Hearing?” the study focused on the case of a 55-year-old man who developed tinnitus and hearing loss in his right ear after playing golf three days a week for 18 months with a thin-faced titanium driver, the King Cobra LD. After ruling out age-induced hearing loss and damage from exposure to other loud noises, the patient’s doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in eastern England decided to test his golf club.
Doctors gauged the sound produced by the patient’s club, along with five other titanium clubs, and compared it with that of older-generation steel clubs. A measuring device was positioned 5.6 feet (1.7 m) away from a golf pro at an outdoor tee — approximating the distance between a ball and a golfer’s closest ear. Doctors found that all six titanium clubs exceeded safe limits, while only two of the six steel drivers posed a hazard.
Although noise-induced hearing loss typically occurs from continuous loud exposure, it can also result from high-intensity “impulse noises,” such as gunshots or explosions. According to Dr. Malcolm Buchanan, one of the report’s authors, the safe limit for impulse noises is 110 decibels. The titanium drivers all exceeded this limit, with one club cracking out 128 decibels.”
Take precautions to protect your hearing. And keep in mind that the study referenced above was done outdoors. Use of a similar club indoors would most likely result in higher decibel levels. We can suggest appropriate ways to protect your hearing while allowing you to enjoy the sport of golf. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that protecting your hearing will do anything to improve your swing!