The study was undertaken by three hearing practitioners working in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the UK.
In the report, the doctors wrote:
"A 55 year old right handed man presented to the ear, nose, and throat outpatient clinic with tinnitus and reduced hearing in his right ear. Clinical examination was unremarkable.
His pure tone audiogram showed an asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss, worse on the right, with a decrease on that side at 4-6 kHz, typical of a noise induced hearing loss.
He had been playing golf with a....titanium club [driver] three times a week for 18 months and commented that the noise of the club hitting the ball was "like a gun going off." It had become so unpleasant that he had been forced to discard the club."
The COR of the Problem
Part of the problem comes from the evolution or expansion of a driver's COR - its coefficient of restitution. COR is a measure of a golf club's elasticity. Today's golf clubs are made to produce a whip-like action. The whip-like action speeds up the club head 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 "like a gun going off."
So, if you spend your weekends playing golf, consider the impact your big driver may be having on your hearing. From the report:
"The experience of our patient prompted us to study the sound levels produced by different golf drivers. A professional golfer hit three two-piece golf balls with six thin faced titanium golf drivers and six standard thicker faced stainless steel golf drivers.....
The thin faced titanium clubs all produced greater sound levels than the stainless steel clubs. Interestingly, the club used by our patient (King Cobra LD) was not the loudest.
Our results show that thin faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary, or even permanent, cochlear damage, in susceptible individuals. The study presents anecdotal evidence that caution should be exercised by golfers who play regularly with thin faced titanium drivers to avoid damage to their hearing.
Sure, the loud bang of a titanium driver with a whip-like action is going to create a loud sound. But you know what? The lawn mower is going to pump out some sound. And so is that that MP3 player and surround sound TV.
So, the solution to protecting your hearing - whether driving the 12th hole or off-roading with your 250cc dirt bike - is to wear hearing protection. Ear plugs have been developed to enable the wearer to hear normal conversations while blocking out loud, damaging concussive sounds - impact sounds.
The solution is simple. An increased awareness of what you've got and what you stand to lose. The ability to hear and enjoy the sounds around us.
And finally, taking precautions to protect the hearing you have.