Can A Golf Ball Kill You?

We do not usually think of golf as a dangerous game. After all, it is played by people wearing sophisticated clothing. There is no running and sweating involved. It’s all very civilized and controlled. Most would definitely say golf is a safe sport – until they have second thoughts about that hard white ball that travels at whiplash speeds out on the golf course. Suddenly the safety of golf may be questioned.


Golf balls travel anywhere between 148 mph and 225 mph when struck by a golf club, making them dangerous missiles. If you are struck on the head, neck, spine, or chest, the consequences could be fatal. A lot depends on how far you are from the strike point and how hard the golf ball is hit. Fatalities are rare.


Golf is a surprisingly dangerous game, but fortunately, fatalities from golf balls are rare.


How Can A Golf Ball Kill You?


The golfer’s swing represents kinetic energy that is transferred to the golf ball. When the golf ball makes contact with a person, that kinetic energy is transmitted to the unlucky individual’s body in a small area.


golf clubs hit a small golf ball and can cause golf injuries with a freak accident

 Golf balls are hard objects, and when hit with significant force, they travel at speeds that vary from approximately 148 mph (238.18 km/h) to 225 mph (362.1km/h). The harder the golf ball is hit, the greater the speed it travels.


Balls traveling at speeds of 148 mph to 225 mph are have a significant amount of force. This force is enough to break bones and cause damage to the underlying body structures. Some areas of the body are more susceptible to severe injuries.


Some researchers estimate that the force of a golf ball impact will be equivalent to a 0,22 caliber rifle.


Researchers have found that force applied quickly (such as a golf ball) will break bones, whereas a force of the same magnitude applied slowly will not result in as much damage.  


Distance From The Golfer Influences The Golf Ball Force


The distance the injured party is standing from the golfer who strikes the golf ball is critical. If the distance is small, the ball’s acceleration will still be at its maximum. The ball loses speed or decelerates as the ball travels, and the force will diminish. Someone further away will experience less force from the golf ball.


People standing close to a golfer taking a swing are most at risk. The force of the impact between a golf ball and body part will be significant.


What Body Parts Are Most Vulnerable?


There are a few vital points on the human body where being struck can cause life-threatening injuries.


1. A Golf Ball Striking The Head


Errant golf balls striking the head are cause for concern. The golf ball could cause a skull fracture, displacing it inwards. The shards of bone could penetrate areas of the brain resulting in severe brain damage.


A force applied to one side of the head causes the brain to move in the skull. It crashes into the skull on the other side. This results in injury to the brain on the opposite side from the impact.


a golf ball travel at a high speed when hit as a tee shot

If the impact occurs from the side, the brain may rotate around the axis of the brain stem. This movement causes profound damage to critical areas that function in the regulation of basic body functioning. Essential mechanisms such as breathing and keeping the heart beating will be compromised.    


A particularly vulnerable site on the human head is the temple. The sphenoid, temporal, parietal, and frontal bones connect in this area, making it a weak junction in the skull. A major cranial artery, the middle meningeal artery, runs underneath the temple. A blow to this area will cause significant damage, and death could follow rapidly.


2. A Golf Ball Striking The Neck


Necks are particularly vulnerable as they house critical structures with limited bone support or protection. Golf ball injuries to the neck could cause the trachea and esophagus to collapse. A collapse of the trachea cuts off the person’s airway immediately. Unless the airway can be restored within four minutes, the person will suffer permanent brain damage and die.   


A golf ball that strikes the neck may compress and damage the carotid artery. This artery supplies blood to the brain. If there is significant damage, the person will suffer permanent brain damage and death as the entire brain will be deprived of oxygen.


3. A Golf Ball Striking The Spine


If a golf ball hit were to strike the spine in the neck region, it could fracture vertebrae. The fractured vertebra could damage or sever the spinal cord. This would result in death.

Sometimes vertebral fractures occur, and inexperienced first aiders cause the spinal cord to be severed, killing the patient.


A golf ball striking the spine in the thoracic region would be unlikely to cause death. It could result in permanent paralysis of the unlucky person.


4. A Golf Ball Strike To The Chest


Being hit by a golf ball in the chest could fracture the sternum or any of the ribs. If they do not displace, then the risk of further injury is minimal. If there are any displaced fractures, the heart and lungs are at risk of injury by the displaced bone. This would definitely place the patient at risk of dying.


The displaced bone may also sever one of the critical arteries that run through the chest, and a person would bleed to death in under a minute.


Will Children Hit By Golf Balls Die?


Children are short and often at the unfortunate height where golf balls fly. As a result, children are vulnerable on golfing greens. They could sustain eye injuries, losing the sight in that eye.


Children younger than two years have unfused fontanelles in their skulls. Should a golf ball strike them on the head, it can be much more of a dangerous golf ball accidents than for grown ups.




It is possible that a strike by a golf ball could kill you while playing golf. Fortunately, it is a rare occurrence. The speed, force, and distance make a difference in the extent of injuries that will be sustained. Critical areas of the body such as the head, neck, chest, and spine are the most likely areas to result in death if a golf ball strikes them while on golf courses.

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