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Posted: March 20, 2014

Titanium golf clubs linked to fires at Calif. courses

icFlorida Photog
Central Florida golf fans are excited as Bay Hill grounds crews and volunteers make their final preparations to the course and PGA TOUR pros sharpen their game ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, March 20 thru 23, 2014.

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            Titanium golf clubs linked to fires at Calif. courses
Central Florida golf fans are excited as Bay Hill grounds crews and volunteers make their final preparations to the course and PGA TOUR pros sharpen their game ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, March 20 thru 23, 2014.

By Zach Toombs

IRVINE, Calif. —

Before you break out your titanium golf clubs for the warmer weather, you might want to grab a fire extinguisher as well. 

"The UC-Irvine Engineering Department and OC Fire Authority study finds that titanium clubs produce sparks when they hit rocks in the rough and the sparks stay intensely hot for longer than usual." (Via KTTV

Yes, a typical golf swing, under the right conditions and with a titanium club can — and already might have — produced brush fires. (Via U.S. Golf Association)

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The researchers behind the study believe at least two California brush fires started this way: one in Mission Viejo and one that burned 25 acres at Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine. (Via The Telegraph)

Published in the journal Fire and Material, the study's author, James Earthman, says titanium reacts violently with oxygen in a way other metals don't. Hence the sparks and occasional fire.

Orange County's fire chief tells ESPN the finding means he and other "Investigators who were 'laughed at' when they first floated the golf club theory have been vindicated."

For the sake of avoiding more brush fires, the OC Fire Authority is giving golfers permission to break the rules and actually move their golf ball out of the rough if they fear their swing could create a spark.

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