With golf remaining so popular in 2021 and the global supply chain issues making the wait times for new gear longer and longer, criminals have plenty of incentive to try producing and selling counterfeit golf equipment. U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group has joined forces with police agencies in China and conducted several raids this year and just announced that a six-raid sting operation in September seized more than 21,281 counterfeit clubs, components and pieces of apparel.
The raids involved more than 100 members of the Shanghai Police and took place at assembly plants and warehouses in the Chinese cities of Dongguan, Guangzhou, Longhui, Shanghai and Shaoyang.
“As golf continues to grow in popularity, counterfeiters are taking drastic measures to deceive the public and threaten the integrity of the game,” said Daryl Rocco, Senior Paralegal for Callaway, in a release. “The enforcement efforts driven by the Golf Group are growing steadily, and we’re thrilled authorities in China are sending the message that producing and selling fake golf equipment is unacceptable.”
Among the products seized in the latest raids were trademarked gear from Callaway, Ping, Scotty Cameron, TaylorMade, Titleist and Xxio.
The U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group has several tips to help golfers spot fake gear online.
Counterfeit Ping drivers seized in China. (The Golf Group)
Golf equipment makers invest in high-quality photography to make their clubs, balls and other gear look their best. Many counterfeiters edit images and alter or remove manufacturer names from the product images to avoid detection. If the pictures of what you are buying seem odd, it’s a red flag.
Products shipping from China
Counterfeit golf equipment scattered around a warehouse in China. (The Golf Group)
It is very unusual for golf equipment to come straight to the consumer from a factory in Asia. If anything about the shipping process seems odd, go around the seller and contact the manufacturer directly before making your purchase.
Prices seem too good to be true
Counterfeit PXG drivers being prepared for shipping. (The Golf Group)
Everyone loves a bargain, but with demands for clubs being high, there is little incentive for drastic discounts on the latest gear. Sure, toward the end of the year, there are often sales from large retailers who are expecting shipments of next year’s products soon, but if you find a site that is selling a driver for $199 that is being offered for $500 everywhere else, the cheaper club is probably fake.
Unfamiliar websites and URLs
Counterfeit club, shoes, apparel and bags seized in China. (The Golf Group)
In almost every case, the name of a retailer and its website are the same. For example, the online location for PGA Tour Superstore is pgasuperstore.com. The same thing goes for manufacturers. You know precisely where ping.com, taylormadegolf.com, callawaygolf.com and titleist.com are taking you. If you are buying something on a website that you have never heard of before, with a URL that seems weird, be very careful.