Counterfeit Golf Clubs Now a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Money Matters
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Summer is a great time to work on your golf game but if you’re hitting the links for the first time, you’ll need some clubs — but buyer beware.

Consumer experts say the sale of counterfeit golf clubs is on the rise. Some estimate it’s now a multi-billion dollar industry, but there are ways to spot a fake and avoid getting stuck in a trap.

Many golfers turn to the best technology on the market to improve their game, like the latest Titlist 917 D2 driver — which goes for about $400.

Joe Nauman, a chief legal officer for a company that represents brands like Titlist, says a fake version of that driver could be found for around $250.

“Visually, it can be a real challenge,” Nauman said. “The counterfeiters have been at this a long time.”

Nauman says if you don’t buy the right way, you won’t know you have a fake until you use it — or hear it.

“There’s a tinny sound,” Nauman said. “(The real one) should have a more solid wood sound.”

Testing the real driver and the fake driver back to back means a difference in accuracy and distance. Durability is another factor.

“We have seen countless situations where the shaft will break or the head will fly off,” he said.

Nauman says counterfeiters are getting smarter. They’re selling clubs much closer to the actual retail price, using brand name photography to advertise and producing clubs nearly identical to the real ones.

“My advice would be to not buy anything online. Golf clubs need to be fit. You want to deal with someone who knows what they’re doing,” Nauman said. “It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ thing.”

While there are many ways to get duped, the only way to be sure is to buy is from a legitimate source.

So before you hit the links, do your homework.

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