How to Spot a Counterfeit Club | The Hot List

Golf Digest equipment editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson show you how to identify a counterfeit club, and demonstrate the massive performance difference between real and counterfeit clubs. The Hot List Presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.

Released on 3/13/2020

Transcript

00:00
[golf club whack] [upbeat music]
00:01
There are a lot of bogus clubs out there.
00:03
If you look at these, can you tell the difference?
00:05
If the deal that you're looking at
00:08
seems too good to be true,
00:10
it is.
00:11
[intro music]
00:15
Hey everybody, welcome to The Hot List,
00:17
presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.
00:19
Today we're talking about the biggest rip off in golf,
00:22
and we're not talking about my handicap.
00:24
[laughs] That is a rip off, but no we're talking about
00:27
counterfeit golf equipment.
00:29
Now I think it's important to start off,
00:31
to know the difference between counterfeit and a knockoff.
00:34
A knockoff is when you have a brand name that's
00:37
kind of close, kind of a cutesy play on words.
00:40
You kinda know you're not getting the real thing.
00:42
With a counterfeit, it is disguised to look exactly like
00:46
the real thing, and you don't know it.
00:49
Well, and it's big dollars.
00:50
Across all industries it's almost 1.8 trillion dollars
00:54
in losses.
00:57
And the fact is, obviously you see it on the streets
01:00
of New York, with the fake Rolex's everywhere,
01:02
and the fake Gucci bags, and all this other stuff.
01:04
But the fact is in golf,
01:07
if you don't see it,
01:09
and even if you know what you're trying to find
01:11
you won't see it because you don't have a comparison
01:13
between the legit club and the counterfeit club.
01:17
That's where we are with counterfeits today,
01:18
it is that precise.
01:20
Yeah, and it's hundreds of millions of dollars
01:22
just in golf alone annually.
01:24
Put that in perspective, counterfeit clubs would probably be
01:27
the number five or number six equipment manufacturer
01:31
in terms of sales.
01:32
So it is a gigantic problem, and it's one that people
01:35
need to be aware of.
01:36
To know how big a problem it is,
01:38
it's not often that the golf industry gets together
01:41
[Mike Johnson laughing] and speaks with one voice.
01:45
In this case you've got 12 of the leading manufacturers,
01:48
all the big names, all together forming a working group
01:52
to essentially attack this problem.
01:54
And when I say attack, I literally mean attack,
01:57
because they will go to warehouses in China,
02:00
and conduct a raid.
02:02
We're not talking like 27 club heads or something like that.
02:06
We're talking about thousands of club heads,
02:09
that are ready to be shipped and sold as legit,
02:13
when in fact they're not.
02:14
Well, and in all, you know those 12 manufacturers
02:17
form the U.S. Golf Manufacturer's Counterfeit
02:21
Anti-Working Group, and over the years they have seized
02:24
two million clubs.
02:27
And if you won't put that in perspective,
02:29
if you lay them down side by side,
02:31
they'd go from Bethpage Black all the way to Torrey Pines.
02:35
So, there are a lot of bogus clubs out there,
02:38
and we're gonna help you figure out if yours is legit,
02:41
or yours is bogus, and also how to stay clear of it
02:45
in the first place.
02:46
The tried and true rule in all things is,
02:50
if the deal that you're looking at
02:52
sounds too good to be true, it is.
02:55
Because, that's exactly why counterfeit's
02:58
have been able to work because you're seeing
03:01
brand new product for 25, 33 percent, half off sometimes,
03:07
and at some point you just gotta say,
03:09
I'm gonna take this deal.
03:10
And what you get, is not what you want.
03:13
Well, we've been trying to educate you a little bit,
03:15
but now it's time to actually see the clubs.
03:18
So Mason, I think we need to get in here,
03:20
a little bit tighter on these.
03:22
Mike, if you would take these clubs and turn them around.
03:24
You want me to be the-- You can be the Vanna White
03:26
of this operation. Vanna White of this
03:27
operation?
03:28
Very nice.
03:29
So, if you look at these can you tell the difference?
03:35
Maybe you can, I'm guessing you probably can't.
03:38
But I'm gonna point out a couple specific things,
03:41
to be on the lookout for.
03:42
First off, if you look here at the speed injected area,
03:47
the actual club, very sharp straight line, centered.
03:52
And if you look carefully here,
03:54
there's just a little bit of an uptick.
03:57
So not quite centered, a little bit off the mark.
04:00
Also, if you look at the coloring in the M6 here,
04:04
much brighter here, a little bit darker there.
04:08
Now if we go to the face,
04:09
before we go to the face--
04:10
Actually, look at this. Yeah.
04:12
To say how far we've come in counterfeits,
04:14
you've got a serial number here.
04:16
That almost makes it look like this is the legit thing,
04:19
because obviously on real clubs,
04:21
a lot of real clubs will have a serial number
04:22
that you can register.
04:24
This serial number could apply to a toaster,
04:26
[Mike Johnson laughing] it could apply to a five iron,
04:29
it's not, obviously, a real number.
04:31
And in many cases in the counterfeit business,
04:34
it'll be the same number on every driver
04:36
that they try to sell you.
04:38
Absolutely, but again it shows to the extreme
04:41
how good the crooks have gotten at making these
04:43
look like the real deal.
04:45
Now let's go to the face, and we will see a couple
04:48
of very obvious ones that you might not notice
04:51
in a vacuum, but you can notice when they're side by side.
04:54
On the real club, you have a real screw here.
04:57
Come down here, that is just a mill mark.
05:00
There's no screw there whatsoever.
05:02
So that one is probably the most visibly obvious
05:05
of this group.
05:06
Then if you come up here, you see a little bit of difference
05:10
in the coloring on the grooves on the face.
05:13
A little bit brighter up here,
05:15
a little bit grayer down here.
05:17
Ditto with the twist face, little bit brighter up top,
05:21
not so much down below.
05:22
And when you look at something like the screws,
05:24
again you're talking about, in the legitimate case,
05:28
TaylorMade trying to engineer getting those screws
05:31
flat on the, basically a curved surface,
05:34
is really really difficult because if it's not flat,
05:36
in essence it's not conforming, doesn't work as well.
05:39
If you're just putting orange paint and milling it,
05:42
you don't have to worry about getting it right,
05:45
and it's a lot easier to make so therefore,
05:47
you're not investing anything in terms of innovation.
05:50
Exactly.
05:51
Now we go to the top of a club.
05:54
This is the big give away and lot of people say,
05:56
how can we actually tell if a club is fake or not?
06:00
Well, in a driver or any kind of metal-wood with
06:03
carbon fiber, this is the dead giveaway.
06:06
Here you have carbon fiber, [light tapping noises]
06:08
nice and soft sounding.
06:10
And here,
06:11
[heavier louder tapping noises]
06:13
it's ringing like the liberty bell,
06:15
because that is just titanium.
06:17
And why is that important?
06:18
It's important because there are huge
06:20
performance differences.
06:22
Titanium is a lot heavier than carbon,
06:24
and it's gonna lead to a heavier club,
06:26
and a not as well performing club.
06:30
So with that,
06:32
let's take these, hit a few shots,
06:35
and try to show you the differences.
06:41
So what we're gonna start off with here,
06:43
is the counterfeit club.
06:45
They are in the same setting,
06:47
they're both in the neutral setting.
06:49
We wanna keep it as close as possible
06:51
to what you're gonna see.
06:54
I can already feel that it's a little bit heavier
06:56
in my hand.
06:58
That might send it a little bit more off line.
07:02
We don't know, but I have a good guess.
07:04
A number of years ago we did a similar test
07:07
and we saw some pretty amazing differences,
07:10
and if you listen closely you might even be able to hear
07:13
some sound differences as well.
07:17
[golf club whack]
07:20
Yeah, so the heavy club has got that ball going off
07:23
to the right, it's spinning like mad,
07:26
the face is pretty dead.
07:28
I mean, 201 yards
07:30
and look at that backspin number.
07:32
I mean, 6,049 backspin, I don't know if I've ever
07:37
hit a driver with 6,049 RPM's of backspin on it.
07:41
And, you know you talked about before
07:43
when we did the sound thing,
07:44
and you could tell that it was maybe all titanium,
07:47
maybe something else, but definitely all metal construction.
07:50
Yeah.
07:51
The reason you're seeing those kind of spin numbers
07:54
is again, that benefit of the carbon fiber construction
07:58
in the crown that saves weight, there's actually
08:00
carbon fiber in the sole on that driver too,
08:03
more weight is able to go low.
08:05
If you have an all metal construction,
08:07
that weight is gonna be high,
08:09
that leads to high spin shots.
08:11
That's not what you want for distance.
08:12
Definitely not.
08:13
I mean, I think the point you're getting at is,
08:17
the chassis, there's a lot more to it.
08:19
You need the engine under the hood as well.
08:22
Well and again, it's a super sophisticated driver design
08:24
that's got, you know, injected resign in the face
08:28
to push that face all the way to the limit
08:30
in terms of COR.
08:32
I'm guessing there's no injection in Mr. Counterfeit.
08:35
[laughs] Absolutely not.
08:37
So now, we have the real TaylorMade M6.
08:41
Like I said, I can already feel it's lighter,
08:43
hopefully I can get through the ball
08:45
a little better with this.
08:46
[golf club wack]
08:51
That is a much better strike,
08:54
as you can see.
08:56
I mean, that's a 30 yard difference,
08:58
and I hit that one a little bit on the heel,
09:00
but there's actual forgiveness built into this club,
09:04
where's there's none in the counterfeit.
09:05
You know, backspin, that's a little high, 4289.
09:09
But that's because I did hit it on the heel a little bit,
09:12
but even at that you're seeing 1800 RPM's difference.
09:16
I mean, 1800.
09:18
Usually it's a difference of a couple hundred at best.
09:20
So, monumental performance differences
09:23
and it's one of the reasons that the manufacturers
09:26
are really all about trying to stop this trend because,
09:30
if you think it's a TaylorMade product and it's not,
09:33
and it performs like the counterfeit one did,
09:36
you're not gonna be a very happy customer.
09:38
Well you're not gonna be a happy customer
09:39
and if you save 100 dollars to hit it 30 yards shorter,
09:42
I don't think that's a bargain at all.
09:44
But, you know, you were mentioning manufacturers
09:47
and victimless crime, the fact is if you buy one of these
09:51
counterfeit clubs and you say this is terrible,
09:54
or worse yet it breaks, do you go complain to TaylorMade?
09:57
You do and important to know is,
09:59
there's nothing they can do for you.
10:01
It's not their club.
10:03
What they will do is they will confiscate the club,
10:06
because it's a fake,
10:07
and they will turn it over.
10:10
So, if you buy a counterfeit club and something goes
10:13
wrong with it, you really have no recourse
10:15
'cause trust me, if you go back to the website
10:17
you purchased it from, they are long gone.
10:20
So there you go.
10:22
You save money, but it's 30 yards shorter,
10:24
it probably breaks, and then you have to give it back
10:27
to the company and you get nothing for it.
10:29
So, great deal.
10:31
Well we do have a question here from @duntagolfer
10:35
that's right along these lines.
10:37
I'm buying a set of Callaway Epic Flash Woods online.
10:41
How can I tell if they're authentic?
10:43
And it's a great question
10:45
because this goes right to the heart of it.
10:47
If you're online, say you're on eBay
10:49
or another auction site,
10:51
and you see a bunch of drivers from the same seller,
10:55
all for sale at a too good to be true price,
10:59
it's probably fake.
11:01
And the thing is you have to be really careful
11:03
'cause the crooks have gotten so good at this.
11:05
It's no longer a 500 dollar driver
11:07
that you're gonna get to buy for 200.
11:09
It's a 500 dollar driver that they've got at maybe 389.
11:14
And you're like, I'll save that hundred bucks.
11:16
Right. But you know,
11:17
it's leading you into a trap,
11:19
so you really have to be careful.
11:20
The challenge is, well it's online, it's eBay,
11:24
they're legitimate.
11:26
What you can do is go to the manufacturer that's,
11:29
that they're selling the club and say,
11:30
hey is this retailer listed
11:33
in your list of authorized retailers?
11:35
Because almost every major manufacturer,
11:38
you go to their site and there's a list
11:40
of authorized retailers.
11:41
Sometimes there's even a list of authorized e-commerce sites
11:45
that, okay this guy's legit.
11:47
If it's not on that site, just run and hide.
11:50
I mean, you're bringing on,
11:53
it may turn out to be a legitimate club
11:54
but it's not worth the risk at all.
11:56
Yeah and most manufacturers have a minimum
11:58
advertised price so, if you see something that's below that,
12:02
odds are you're heading towards a fake club.
12:05
I mean, there are plenty of authorized retailers
12:07
that you can have the convenience of going online
12:10
and buying.
12:10
Certainly Dick Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy among them.
12:13
I think the real takeaway, is why take a chance.
12:17
And if you want more hints on what to look for,
12:20
there's a great website: keepgolfreal.com.
12:23
You can go on there, lots of tips on how to spot fakes,
12:27
and more importantly, how to stay away from them
12:30
in the first place.
12:31
You know one other thing that occurs to me about
12:33
counterfeit clubs, you're not gonna get fit for those.
12:35
[laughs] No you are definitely not
12:37
gonna get fit for those.
12:38
So, if you wanna take the first step
12:39
[upbeat music] to avoid buying counterfeit,
12:41
go get fit.
12:42
No doubt about it.
12:43
'Til next time.
12:44
[outro music]
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