The sport of golf is under siege as counterfeit manufacturers are getting bolder. Thanks to technology and shrewdness, it’s becoming more difficult to spot fakes at the point of purchase. The reality only dawns when golfers get on the course with the inferior equipment, unknowingly!
Mid this year, the U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group impounded about 10,000 pieces of clubs and components, as well as 10,600 pieces of trademark labels in three raids in China. In 2020, a counterfeit golf equipment raid seized 120,000 pieces of fake golf equipment.
Since formation of the group which is made up of six golf companies (Acushnet (Titleist, FootJoy and Scotty Cameron), Callaway, Cleveland/Srixon/Xxio, Ping, PXG and TaylorMade) in 2004, two million counterfeit golf products have been netted and more than 1,500 websites shut down.
Whereas fake clubs are increasingly attractive due to their “affordable” prices, manufacturers warn that they are made without the requisite technical specifications and quality standards thus making them inferior leading to a myriad of issues including loss of distance and accuracy, to compromised safety.
Identifying fake clubs requires a high level of technical knowledge which is not readily available in most countries. The situation has been compounded by the lack of a centralized manufacture database for counterchecking serial numbers. The U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group runs a website keepgolfreal.com to sensitize golfers worldwide.
Here are basic checks you can carry out simply by holding your equipment side by side with an authentic club:
FINISH & FEEL
The feel of counterfeit clubs is always different because of the quality of material used. Genuine clubs have a more polished finish while counterfeits have a more brushed look. After sometime, counterfeits begin to rust due to the poor quality finish applied. Take keen interest on the paint work as counterfeits sometimes have paint spilling from the engraved lines marks.
SHAPE & WEIGHT
Scrutinize the edges of your golf clubs, especially woods. In most cases, the shape will be glaringly different from the authentic clubs i.e. less sharp.
Observe keenly the face angle and the way the club sits on the ground. Most counterfeit woods sit awkwardly on the ground during address i.e. either open or closed.
The head weight of counterfeit drivers is normally heavier compared to the genuine drivers due to the difference in the material used.
Look out for inconsistencies in colour, font, logo, sticker, symbol, stitch, glaze and paint quality. In bizarre incidences, letters on counterfeit clubs may even appear upside down. The quality of the paint used on fake golf clubs is usually a lot poorer due to the inability to master the proper colour shade of the authentic brand. Another telltale sign is the quality of the engraving which is rarely crisp or defined. When analyzing hardcovers, look keenly at the stitching and quality of material used.
“In golf, you won’t easily see it because even if you know what to look for, you won’t have a comparison between the legitimate club and the counterfeit. It has become that precise … If the deal you’re looking at sounds too good to be true, it is”– quote from Golf Digest.