The Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group has launched a new website to warn consumers of the growing problem.
The market for counterfeit golf clubs has increased with the growth in online commerce, reports The Miami Herald, with estimates now putting the number of counterfeits sold yearly at around 2 million clubs.
“It is just a huge, huge problem,” Wayne Mack, organizer of the Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group, told the Herald. “We like to use this analogy: If you took all the counterfeit clubs bought in the U.S. last year and laid them down side by side, they would stretch from Bethpage Black (Long Island, N.Y.) to Pebble Beach (Calif.) and back again.”
Mack’s Working Group consists of five of the largest golf manufacturers — Callaway, Acushnet, TaylorMade, PING and Cleveland Golf — that came together in 2004 to combat the issue, with Mack serving as their legal representative and coordinator. Mack describes the group’s mission as “enforcement and education.”
To help with eradication end of it, the Group launched a new website on July 18, www.keepgolfreal.com, aimed at informing consumers and making them aware of the dangers of golf counterfeiting and the Group’s efforts to combat it..
In the past 18 months, Mack said, his Group has conducted or participated in roughly 40 successful raids, during which more than $1 million worth of counterfeit products were seized. The vast majority — nearly 80 percent — of the counterfeiting efforts originate in China, he added.
The Herald’s report stressed that counterfeit clubs are different from knock-offs, which look similar but do not claim to be the same as those produced by major manufacturers. Counterfeits intentionally deceive the consumer into thinking they are buying a high-quality, name-brand club at a discounted price, and steal the intellectual property from the companies.
In repeated robotic testing of the products, Mack said the counterfeits’ performance variance “has always been pretty significant,” ranging from causing a slice to serious problems like the clubhead flying off.
These instances cause complaints about quality and safety, but consumers have also voiced brand and honesty concerns, as they often believe their underperforming, counterfeit clubs are legitimate and have come from major manufacturers.
“This is costing companies significant amounts of revenue and costing jobs,” Mack said. “From an economic standpoint, it is very troubling.”
The best way to be protected from purchasing a counterfeit club, Mack said, is to buy from authorized manufacturers, who have strict technical specifications and quality standards that the counterfeits are not required to meet. As a general rule of thumb, Mack added, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
And when purchasing online, Mack advised Internet consumers to look at where the club is being shipped from and ask for the club’s serial number, because they will not have the advantage of being able to hold the club in their hands.
The Herald said that counterfeiting did not seem to be particularly prevalent among Miami-area consumers, with several golf courses and professionals in South Florida saying they had heard of the issue but had not experienced it first-hand. Phil Sanford, a pro shop attendant at Country Club of Miami, said he knew of one person who had purchased a set of counterfeit irons and was unable to return them.
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