From our own correspondent: Skip the first 18 holes

12 January 2009 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Since practically every chemical-industry-related event I've attended, whether a convention or conference, has some function connected to golf, whether as part of the schedule or because of proximity to a course, I often feel that everybody in the industry, except me, plays golf.

Golf just is not my game - a phrase that I'm sure has just made me a pariah to many ICIS Chemical Business readers. It simply doesn't interest me anymore - even though I used to own my own set of clubs and played for my high school's junior varsity team.

I let the sport go because back then, golfing was an old man's game, and I was young and hip. (Excuse me, I have to pause for a moment to laugh at myself.)

But now I regularly see the next generation hitting the ball with industry veterans, most recently during the National Association of Chemical Distributors' annual meeting in early December. I believe that this continuity of the time-honored tradition of petchem deals and camaraderie over nine or 18 holes is down to the work of comedian and actor Bill Murray.

Murray is an exuberant supporter of the game, and that love, combined with a variety of televised golf course hijinks has, in a nutshell, helped make golf hip. Nope, not Ben Crenshaw or Lee Trevino, but Bill Murray.

But despite Murray's having made golf cool for the next batch of chemical industry leaders, they now might have to worry about the specific advances to golf technology that the industry has contributed towards. I'm not referring to the atomic fuel used as a golf ball's core, but to titanium clubs.

The BBC has reported that playing with the latest generation of thin-faced titanium drivers could lead to hearing loss. It seems a golfer reported to his doctor with a case of unexplained tinnitus, and during questioning he mentioned that when he played with his King Cobra LD titanium club, hitting the ball sounded "like a gun going off."

After studying other hearing-related ailments, researchers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the UK said, "Our results show that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals."

Darn. Another reason for me not to start playing golf again.

By: Ivan Lerner
+1 713 525 2653

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