• titanium golf alloy abrasion;
  • particle combustion;
  • golf course fire


The objective of the present study was to determine whether golf clubs that have titanium (Ti) alloy surfaces can produce sparks when abraded under normal swing conditions. In the present work, sparks are defined as moving particles that emit radiant energy due to the process of combustion on its surface. Two three-irons and a three-wood containing a Ti alloy in the head as well as two three-irons and a three-wood that only contain stainless steel in the head were included in the study. The impact events during abrasion testing were recorded using a high-speed video camera, and abrasion damage was determined using stereometric analysis of scanning electron microscopy images. The findings reveal that Ti alloy faceplates that extend to the sole of the club can produce a number of Ti alloy particles when abraded under swing conditions. The particles then combust for a sufficient duration to potentially ignite a neighboring fuel source such as dry foliage and grasses. Abraded Ti alloy microparticles up to 500 µm in diameter were observed to burn for nearly 1 s, allowing ample time for fuel ignition. By contrast, no sparks were produced by stainless steel club heads when tested under the same conditions. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.