Golfers need to be wary of online deals on golf clubs, countless counterfeits are made and distributed each year.
Counterfeiters produce as many as two million fake clubs each year, according to the US Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group. The fake clubs end up in the hands of unsuspecting golfers everywhere.
The Internet is the biggest sand trap for the counterfeit clubs. People who think they have discovered a great online deal on a set of clubs can often end up with fakes.
Scott Hussar, a local golfer, said a friend of his learned this lesson the hard way.
"He thought he was getting a great deal because they were a couple hundred dollars cheaper than anywhere else, and I said, well you should be weary about that, but he went ahead and did it anyway and it turns out they were fake," said Hussar.
Pete Line, the general manager at Carl's Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, said they are seeing more and more counterfeit clubs.
"Ten years ago you might see one once a month. Five years ago you might see them once a week. Now, you might see them almost every day," said Line.
One of the biggest problems with counterfeit clubs is that they look authentic.
Line said the only way to know for certain the clubs you're buying are real is to purchase from an authorized dealer.
"Authorized dealers sell real equipment, everybody else sells, we don't know," said Line.
Golf club manufacturers are very serious about cracking down on counterfeiters. Five of the most well-known producers have created an US Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group to address the problem. Earlier this year, the group was behind two raids of factories in China that lead to the seizure of 7,500 fake clubs and other materials.
The golf group said about 90 percent of counterfeit golf equipment is made in China.
Authorized dealers are the ones approved by golf club manufacturers. You can identify a legitimate dealer by checking a manufacturer's website. If a dealer is not listed, you can find out by calling a manufacturer.
It is important to note that many websites may claim to be authorized even when they're not, so be sure to cross-check with a manufacturer before you buy.
If you do buy clubs online, be sure to ask for serial numbers, and check them with the manufacturer. Also ask for more pictures and get close ups photos.
The glue test is another way to help spot a fake from a real club. Authentic clubs won't have extra epoxy around the decals.
Also look at the ferrules, the small piece between the head and the shaft, golf companies often make special shapes and counterfeiters rarely match.
The research before buying clubs could make all the difference. Counterfeit clubs can be made of substandard materials that have the potential to ruin your game, or worse.
"If a counterfeit golf club, if the head comes off, if it wasn't epoxied correctly, the head comes off, it could potentially hurt somebody and cause significant injury. It doesn't happen very often but that could happen," said Line. "You get substandard performance, and that's our biggest concern, we want golfers to buy the best golf equipment and get the best performance possible."
For more information about what manufacturers are doing to combat the counterfeit problem, click here.
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