A recent raid in China netted over 62,000 counterfeit golf products.
A recent raid in China netted over 62,000 counterfeit golf products.

The U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group (The Golf Group) recently announced the successful raids of two China-based counterfeiting targets carried out over the past few months. The operations, which were executed by Chinese law enforcement with the assistance of the Golf Group, resulted in the seizure of almost 62,000 counterfeit golf products. Additionally, The Golf Group announced the sentencing of two criminals charged and convicted of selling fakes in a separate case.

“These raids and sentences are a strong show of support from Chinese law enforcement that, like us, they understand the damage that counterfeiters are doing to the sport of golf,” said Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President for Corporate and Legal for Acushnet Company. “There are many more counterfeiters like this, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to pursue and bring to justice the people who profit from duping consumers.”

In late June and early July, Chinese authorities completed two raids at counterfeit factories in the Jiangxi Province and Dongguan, where they found nearly 62,000 pieces of counterfeit golf merchandise, seizing golf club heads, shafts and grips in addition to golf apparel and other accessories.

“Every raid and every conviction brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating the counterfeiting of golf products,” Dave Cordero, spokesperson for TaylorMade-adidas Golf, said. “We know this is an ongoing battle but we’re committed to doing what it takes to protect consumers and the integrity of our sport. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished and we’re encouraged by the strong relationships we’re developing with Chinese law enforcement officials to go after the counterfeit manufacturers and suppliers.”

The sentences were handed down to Qing Guangxi and his wife, Deng Xiang’ai. The pair was arrested in May of 2013 after a raid revealed that they sold almost $600,000 (USD) in counterfeits through their business. Guangxi was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine in excess of $48,000 (USD). Xiang’ai received a three year prison term and $32,000 (USD) fine.

The Golf Anti-Counterfeiting Group consists of five of the most well-known golf companies in the world — Acushnet Company whose brands are Titleist, FootJoy and Scotty Cameron; Callaway-Odyssey; Srixon, Cleveland Golf and XXIO; PING; and TaylorMade-adidas Golf whose brands are TaylorMade, adidas Golf, Adams and Ashworth. Formed in 2004, the Golf Anti-Counterfeiting Group has worked with international law enforcement and government agencies to conduct raids and investigations of counterfeit operations. Since 2011, the Golf Group’s efforts with the help of Chinese law enforcement led to the seizure of more than 625,000 counterfeit golf products.

It’s estimated that as many as 2 million counterfeit golf clubs are produced each year. If you laid every fake club end-to-end they would stretch more than 8000km, or roughly the distance from Sydney to Perth and back.

More information about the dangers of counterfeit golf clubs and products, and how to avoid them, can be found at www.keepgolfreal.com.


Spotting a fake

Issues with counterfeit golf clubs can range anywhere from a loss of distance and accuracy to a safety issue—with shafts that shatter and heads that fly off mid-swing.

To ensure the golf equipment you’re purchasing is authentic, ask yourself the following:

Am I purchasing my new golf equipment from an authorized dealer?
The most reliable way to be sure you are purchasing an authentic product is to buy from an authorised retailer/dealer. There will always be a risk that a product purchased from an unauthorized source will be counterfeit. Counterfeit manufacturers are constantly changing and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to spot counterfeits…until you play golf with them.

A number of websites offer discounted golf products and claim to be OEM’s or approved vendors. Are they legit?
Probably not. There has been an increase in the number of websites that offer deeply discounted golf products. If the site is not identified as an authorized retailer/vendor according to the manufacturer’s website, it is likely selling counterfeit products.

There are slight differences in the appearance of the club, including different shades of colour, or slightly different engravings. Did I purchase a fake?
Most likely. Most golf manufacturer’s do not sell “seconds”, so there will not be different versions of golf equipment in the marketplace.

Use your head
Purchasing online or from unauthorised sources may seem like you are getting top-of-the-line clubs at bottom barrel prices, but as the adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


RELATED: Fake Clubs, Real Problem

About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


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