They say that the sincerest form of flattery is to be imitated. While that may be true in other industries,
branded golf equipment manufacturers are hardly smitten with the idea that their designs, names, and colors are there to be copied. Golf club manufacturing, being a finite market, hardly has the luxury to allow for copy-cats to roam free. Unfortunately, for companies such as Callaway and consumers that may not understand the nuances in club design and manufacture, there are hundreds of knock-
offs and counterfeits in the marketplace today.
Clones, also known as knock-offs, are very easy to identify, as they are usually made of a similar design and color as the real deal but with differences that allow them to fly under the patent infringement radar. The resellers of these golf clubs will generally let you know what club they are trying to emulate. They may have a totally different name and may sport certain design and cosmetic differences.
Don’t be fooled however, these clubs are anything but similar to the clubs they are trying to copy. In order to lower prices, cloned golf equipment will be made of less expensive materials; for example, they will use alloys instead of pure steel or titanium. Also, the construction of the clubs will be different with a lesser degree of tolerance. Cloned clubs may be heavier (or lighter), shafts may be stiffer (or
softer) and swing weights will not be consistent from one club to the next.
Top-tier manufacturers spend millions of dollars on research and development tying to perfect their golf clubs. These costs are obviously passed on the consumer, thus justifying the prices. On the other hand, cloned clubs, which can be up to 75% cheaper than their real counterparts, cannot claim to have superior technology backing them up. They produce a cheap and inferior product and the
consumer ends up paying the price on the course.
Knock-off resellers will recommend that you purchase these clubs, especially if you are new to the game. Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on Callaway, Taylor Made or Titleist, when you can have the same or similar club in a clone? As a beginner, you are told, you won’t be able to know or feel the difference.
Our advice is to steer clear of these clubs as they will not allow you to improve your game over time. You may learn how to master the swing, tempo, and follow-through and hit the ball in the sweet spot every time. However, if you use inferior products, you will most certainly be at a disadvantage on the course as the knock-offs you have purchased are not true with every swing.
If you’re new to the game, purchase a used set of clubs made by one of the branded manufacturers such as callaway golf preowned. As these clubs are infinitely more precise and exact in their production, they will allow you to work on your swing without having to worry about the performance of the clubs. They also sound great … ping!!! Furthermore, you should be able to get a great deal on used sets, some of which might look brand new. Remember, you get what you pay for. Wouldn’t you rather have a set of Callaway’s or Taylor Made?
Some clone manufacturers don’t even go to the trouble of making sufficient changes to the designs of the real clubs and cross over the patent infringement line. An illegal knockoff and/or counterfeit are products that violate the legal trademarks, patents or copyrights of another company. You may notice some of these names; King Snake, Tommy Mann Bummer, The Big Burser. It is pretty obvious who they were trying to copy. Sometimes, counterfeiters will use the same names as the branded clubs and try to pass them off as the real deal.
Branded club manufacturers spend countless hours and millions of dollars trying to stop these companies from making and selling their product. As is the case with R+D numbers, unfortunately these costs are also passed on to the consumer. Most illegal knockoffs are manufactured in Asia and sold to wholesalers in the US, Europe and other important markets.
Sometimes it is very easy to spot a counterfeit club, other times it is very difficult. Generally speaking, stay away from clubs that are not serialized. Most top-end manufacturers are placing serial numbers and other identifying marks on their clubs. If it is not serialized, chances are that the club is a fake or a cheap imitation.
The majority of older models will not have serial numbers. That’s when you should start to look for cosmetic blemishes such as unevenly applied paint, lettering not centered, epoxy (glue) showing in one or more areas, misspelled names, and anything else that doesn’t look normal. Use your best intuition … if it doesn’t look right, it probably is not.
Am I purchasing from an authorized branded club retailer? If the answer is “no,” your chances of purchasing counterfeits increase greatly. Your best protection against counterfeits is to purchase only from an authorized golf club
Is the price for the “brand new, top of the line” clubs too good to be true? If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is and you should be extremely wary. Finally, the last test you should perform is two-pronged. Some unscrupulous retailers will have both real and clone clubs for sale. If these are available, grab the first in one hand (holding the grip) and the second in the other hand (also
grip). Which feels better to you? Shake them slightly …Does one make a rattling sound? Do they both sway evenly back and forth? You should be able to tell a difference right away. The branded version should feel much better, more balanced, and obviously better looking.
The second test you should perform, if the retailer lets you, is to take a couple of shots alternating between both clubs. Does one sound better than the other? Does one feel better than the other? Even if you are not an experienced golfer, you should be able to tell the difference between both clubs.
The last word of caution is this: if the club you’re buying doesn’t have a warranty, leave it aside and buy one that does. The branded companies stand behind the product that they make. They value their customers and honor warranty claims. There is always a remote possibility that your club will snap, dent, chip or crack. Do the clone manufacturers have an 800 number for customer service? Before
you spend $1000 or even $100, check out who makes the clubs and what their policy is for warranties.
Copyright 2007 David Lester
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by David Lester