The 1966 Patent That Tried to Make Golf Flammable

Burning tiny little balls of fire


If you’ve ever thought the game of golf was in dire need of more pyrotechnics, you’re not alone: Japanese inventor Fumio Hosoya came to the same conclusion in 1966. Hosoya, who was then a pyrotechnical engineer, acted on the idea by patenting a “Signalling Device” that combined the best aspects of golf (whacking a ball) with the best aspects of a Rammstein concert (gouts of smoke and flame).

The ball, which Hosoya rather optimistically believed could be used as either a novelty toy, fumigant, or “flame emitting signaling device,” would burst into flame upon a solid impact. Hosoya, who never publicly denied spending a summer as Satan’s caddie, could have described his invention thusly: “A perforated outer shell that is resistant to both fire and the perfect swing, holding within it a peach pit of sand, explosives, and paper.” We would describe it as a very small bomb.

Hosoya filed an updated patent in 1986 to add wire netting over the flame-holes, writing that his earlier invention “has a tendency of spilling extremely high temperature droplets of molten mass resulting from combustion of the detonator material through the apertures on the outer shell to cause hazard. When the ball fell on or in the vicinity of a flammable material (think: dried grass), fire happened. Wildfires were an unfortunate symptom of the disease that is excessive awesomeness. The signaling devices never made it to market.

That said, if George Miller ever wants to direct a film about mini golf, the special effects are pretty much taken care of already. The windmills don’t stand a chance.