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The counterfeit golf club market is staggering: Here's how to spot a fake

March 14, 2020

It’s the biggest problem that faces the golf-equipment industry, and we've been together to solve it for the better part of the last two decades. No, it has nothing to do with your slice. Counterfeit clubs are the biggest drain on the game, and the best defense might not be as much about what the equipment companies should be doing as it is how golf consumers should be shopping.

Golf Digest’s new video series, The Hot List, aims to educate consumers on what they should be paying attention to when they come across deals that sound too good to be true. As co-host E. Michael Johnson notes: “With a counterfeit it is disguised to look exactly like the real thing, and you don’t know it.”


Some of the numbers are staggering, and help position this problem in proper context: “Across all industries, it’s $1.8 trillion dollar problem. … In golf, you won’t easily see it because even if you know what to look for, you won’t have a comparison between the legitimate club and the counterfeit. It has become that precise … If the deal you’re looking at sounds too good to be true, it is.”

The show examines the cost to golf companies—and as a result golfers, who are ultimately paying for these losses—but it also reveals that while today’s fakes sure may look very similar to the real versions, there’s no guarantee they’ll play like them. During the show, a legitimate driver is matched up with its counterfeit counterpart and the two clubs not only get a visual inspection but a full examination on the Foresight Sports GC Quad launch monitor and simulator. See what fake distance looks like in pure number form.

The show also gets you some advice on what to look for not only in a product’s cosmetics and even its acoustics, but where you might find some clues that the retailer you’re buying from might not be telling you the whole story.

As Johnson says, if you buy a counterfeit club, you really can’t complain to the legitimate manufacturer: “There’s nothing they can do for you—it’s not their club.”