The whole golf industry is being affected by the increase in counterfeit golfing equipment – and the warning signs are not necessarily obvious to spot. Fake equipment has become such an issue that manufacturers and official retailers are now offering guides on how to spot an original.
Many goods are purchased second hand, or via internet auction sites but there are limited guarantees that the goods being purchased are 100% authentic. If buying from auction sites, research on the dealers needs to be carried out first to determine whether the goods they supply are authentic or not. Look at the seller’s feedback and profile; they should also be proud that they are authorised retailers so look for evidence of this along with a full warranty being offered. Worryingly it has been suggested that almost a quarter of golf clubs on auctions sites are fake! Thankfully the authorities are clamping down on offenders and one group of criminals have been found guilty of a multi-million pound scam in the UK which sold over 96,000 items on the internet.
China is also exporting millions of pieces of replica golfing equipment; yet ironically, they also export over 60% of the world’s authentic merchandise. Once exported, the counterfeit goods head all over the world and get lost in with the originals.
When it comes to buying golf clubs, the only guarantee of buying authentic equipment is by purchasing from certified retailers. Fakes do not stand out as prices are normally elevated to the price of the originals (to avoid suspicion) and only subtle differences are visible. There are still plenty too good to be true offers out there too so beware. The real shock comes when using the equipment as the performance of a fake is far inferior in comparison to an original.
When considering your purchase, a vigilant eye is required. Study the manufacturer’s websites and compare pictures to your potential purchases; and where possible use the following pieces of advice:
- Use a magnet to see it sticks to a titanium – titanium is not magnetic
- Compare the goods to pictures of the originals:
- Are the colors identical?
- Is the shape identical?
- Is the writing the right way up and in line?
- Condition of second hand goods – counterfeits deteriorate faster
- Finish – is it gloss/matt finish?
- Are fonts identical?
- Do the ferrules match? Genuine ferrules come in unique shapes and sizes but the fakes tend to be pretty standard.
- Research the companies you are buying from.
- If you can get your hands on the equipment before buying do the materials feel the same?
- When testing the equipment, how does it feel?
- Ask for serial numbers – all authentic equipment will have one
Gold Bidder is the official PGA club exchange; you can not only buy clubs but you can also exchange golf clubs for Golf Bidder to sell on. Obviously they have come across many fake clubs and are experts at spotting the real thing so the UK based company have issued some warnings signs on how to find authentic clubs. Here are a few examples:
This TaylorMade R9 driver on the left is fake; notice how the text on the ferrule is upside down in comparison to the rest of the text and the head shapes are noticeably different.
These TaylorMade SuperQuad Driver have been used a handful amount of times however the fake (on the right) has deteriorated extremely fast and the head shapes differ considerably.
The fake Cleveland HiBore XLS Hybrid club in this example is on the left. It is quite clearly a different shape, the club face has a higher angle on the fake and the fill on the white triangles are different colours.
In conclusion, the best advice is to purchase from a reputable retailer who offers a full warranty on their products.