By Sam Bailey and Steven Arundel (Arundel Golf Kenya)
We all love a bargain. ‘Attractive’ prices sometimes sway our decisions, but in most cases remember what you pay for is exactly what you get. The old adage that ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is…’ definitely applies to golf purchases.
In 2004 the top industry players in golf manufacturing launched an initiative to stamp out fakes under the banner ‘The U.S Golf and Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group’. Why would they do this you may ask? You wouldn’t be alone in cynically thinking that they’ve done this to protect their merchandise and their prices. No, it means more than that to these companies. They’ve invested millions of dollars into making their products the best they can be, so that golfers can play safely and with confidence.
Cases of golfers encountering myriad problems including broken or shattered shafts and lower grade performance in terms of distance and drive are not uncommon. No manufacturer wants to be associated with these issues when they have devoted their time and money towards standards of excellence. Their tireless work on perfecting the ultimate weight of the club to maximise performance, or the hollowing out of the inside of an iron to enable the keen golfer to play the perfect stroke, is all paramount to their industry.
Like all industries, golf is prone to its fair share of counterfeit goods. Often it seems almost impossible to tell the real from a fake. But again, one of the tell-tale signs an item isn’t real is the origin of the shipment. Taylormade, Titleist, Ping, Callaway and Scotty Cameron to name a few, all reside in America. So when you see that club with an unrealistically cheap price tag, ask yourself where it’s coming from. Imported clubs now bear a clear supplier address from which you have the assurance that the clubs are authentic. Authenticity guarantees that you play with comfort since you have the right product which the manufacturer has spent extensive resources to ensure it fits player specifications. Clubs are now fitted according to your swing, your stance and other mitigating factors. A fake just wouldn’t have these subtleties and won’t allow you those adjustments a genuine club provides for your game.
Not only do many outlets in Kenya have surprising golf equipment prices, the number of fake clubs, golf balls and apparel on offer is so alarming. Curiously, where these fakes reside has been a real eye-opener. Seeing top golf clubs and resorts’ Pro-shops, traditionally the first point of call for golfers, full of non-genuine products is disheartening. Golf is a gentleman’s game built on integrity and trust, not built upon fake products which disillusion the performer. How can a pro-shop proudly boast a wealth of knowledge, when the products they display are not real or genuine? It implies, either a lack of understanding about the products they are peddling, or a disingenuous approach. Neither sits well in a sport which is all about a standard of excellence and a keen level of sportsmanship.
Just as in motorsport you cannot get on the track without the right grade of tyres, protective suit and helmet; in a sport which is all about precision and stroke, you must have the best equipment to enhance your performance. In a sport which is all about honesty and integrity why would you embrace fakes?
It is unfortunate that the high import levies – close to 51 percent- have allowed the counterfeit industry to thrive in Kenya. The absence of fair legislation that will guarantee reasonable pricing of imported top brands means that Kenya’s golf industry will continue to be held captive by fakes.
Importers of these inferior goods are not only suffocating genuine entrepreneurs, they are busy killing golf talent in the long run. We remain optimistic that through lobbying and the backing of peers in the sport, we will eventually stamp out the fakes menace.
Arundel Golf Kenya, AGK, import golf equipment