Counterfeit clubs, balls and equipment are running rampant right now in the golf industry, and even the most savvy shoppers could fall for a fake. It happened to long-time golfer Michael Byrnes.
"These guys are good. The differences are almost indistinguishable," Byrnes says.
He ordered what he thought were Titleist clubs online. But what he got was a fake set. The Titleist lettering was different, as was the 7. The real test though? Part of the club head was supposed to be made of tungsten, a metal a magnet won't stick to. But when Michael performed a simple magnet test, he found that wasn't the case. The magnet stuck... and he knew he had been taken.
And he's not alone. in 2009 US Customs and Border Protection seized 519 golf items. In 2010, the number jumped to 786. Everything from balls, clothes, clubs and covers. Most of the ccounterfeit equipment is made in China.
"Counterfeiters want to make the product as cheaply as possible while still looking passable to you," Therese Randazzo from US Customs says.
Customs says the new way counterfeiters elude agents is by sending fake stuff through the email and on private carriers, rather than in a huge cargo ship. The Feds can't search every package and can't force the Chinese government to stop the crooks.
Stopping the Fakes
Not big name golf companies like Cleveland are getting involved, teaching customs agents how to spot fakes and putting pressure on the Chinese government to shut down counterfeit plants.
So what's the result to golfers who buy fake stuff? It can put a real divot in your safety. One counterfeit club seized bent after just one use and the head flew off another one. And it can affect your game too! The swing weights are different and it will impact the product's performance. And the kicker is that fake golf items sometimes aren't much cheaper than the real thing.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Experts say always
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