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How to avoid counterfeit clubs (and how to spot genuine ones).

Don't get caught in the counterfeit trap

Buying used golf clubs online is a great way of bagging a bargain and finding the club of your dreams for a fraction of the price that you would pay for a new one. But at golfclubs4cash, too often we hear horror stories from customers who have bought a second-hand club or set of clubs in good faith, only to find that they have been sold a fake. They discover to their great disappointment that not only is the equipment of less-than-brilliant quality, but it is also impossible to sell, as it’s illegal to sell fake goods.

Selling counterfeit golf clubs may be strictly against the law, but that doesn’t stop the unscrupulous from trying anyway. And often they get away with it, that is until a keen-eyed golfer notices what they are up to and reports them. Sometimes, it can be the last person you suspect - in 2019, a professional golf tutor was jailed for 16 months for selling nearly £100k’s worth of fake golfing gear.

Even if you unknowingly sell a counterfeit golf club, you will find yourself on the wrong side of the law, so ignorance is not an excuse. It’s such an issue that the British Golf Industry Association (BIGA) is doing what it can to raise awareness of the risks associated with buying and selling counterfeit golf equipment.

At golfclubs4cash our customers have full faith that we only buy and sell 100% genuine and authentic golf clubs, and we’ve got the glowing reviews to prove it. It may be hard to tell the difference to an untrained eye, but thanks to our years of experience we can spot a fake a mile off. We’re doing our bit to reduce the number of fake golf clubs in circulation, and raising awareness of the problem to stop counterfeit golf club makers in their tracks.

In this handy guide, we’ll share with you loads of top tips gained from our extensive experience in identifying fake golf clubs. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to avoid getting ripped off with fake goods, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time, hassle and money in the process.

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PS. Check out this video for a tour of the golfclubs4cash warehouse, advice on buying and selling used golf clubs, and a little insight into how our experts spot counterfeit golf clubs (you’ll find it at 6 minutes in).

How can I tell if a used golf club is counterfeit or genuine?

It’s often not immediately obvious whether a golf club is authentic or not, but sometimes it is obvious. If the overall quality of the product is low, this is a good first sign that something’s not right. While people who produce counterfeit golf clubs may be smart, they often fail to pay attention to the finer details, so this is where you should be starting.

If it’s possible to compare the club you are looking at with a genuine one, then this is a great way to tell real from fake. However, that’s not always a viable option, so read on to learn how you can become your own expert when it comes to spotting fake used golf clubs.

If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is

Amateur golfers and people who are new to the game can easily be enticed by a cheap golf club or accessory on platforms such as eBay. It’s important to remember that, as with anything else in life, if it’s cheap then it’s probably for a very good reason. A low price can be one of the biggest indicators that a golf club is counterfeit, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting yourself a bargain.

Where’s it coming from?

The majority of the counterfeit golf club manufacturers are based in China, so if you are buying from a supplier that is based there then this should raise alarm bells. Only last year, nearly 10,000 counterfeit golf clubs were found in China, and in 2020 the largest haul of over 120,000 fake golf clubs was seized in raids, again in China, with 15 suspects being arrested and detained. That starts to give you an idea of the scale of the problem. That’s not to say that every golf club manufactured in China is fake of course, but it is certainly worth being alert to the possible risks.

While many of the leading brands may have parts that have been manufactured in China due to the lower factory costs, they tend to assemble all of their clubs in the UK or US.

Where to start - the serial number

Your first clue as to whether or not a golf club is genuine is in the serial number. Most leading golfing brands have a uniform way of presenting their serial numbers, and most etch the number into the club. Counterfeit golf clubs tend to have the serial number lasered on rather than etched, and while this could change in the future it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

If only it was as easy as typing a serial number into a database to see if it’s genuine or not - but there isn’t always that option. Most brands don’t offer this because it’s easy enough for a counterfeit club maker to copy a genuine serial number and add it to the club. It’s still a good idea to check the serial number anyway, as it may come up as ‘not registered’, or registered to a totally different club, in which case you can be sure it’s a fake.

If there is no serial number at all on the club, then this should definitely raise alarm bells.

How to spot a counterfeit grip

The grip of a club is an excellent first place to start, as there are some common giveaway signs to be found in a fake club here. Firstly, what does it smell like? If there is a very strong rubber-like odour then it could well be a counterfeit. Take a look at the logo/s on the club - are they aligned properly and are there any areas where they look like they could be peeling off? Is the font slightly different to the real thing? Is the grip itself aligned perfectly to the club, or does it look like it doesn’t quite fit?

Counterfeit grips can be difficult to spot

How to spot a counterfeit shaft

Whether it’s an iron, driver, fairway or hybrid shaft you’re looking at, pay close attention to the detail. Start by looking at the shaft band - if it’s counterfeit then the chances are it might be starting to peel up, or perhaps it’s not perfectly straight on the club or in a totally different place than usual. Does the shaft feel flimsy and does the flex not feel as stiff as the shaft states? Take a look at the colours, too - are they lighter or darker than you’d expect, are they in the right place and do any graphics look like they might be in the wrong place?


How to spot a genuine club shaft

You might have noticed that a lot of the major brands have been adding a holographic sticker to the shaft of their clubs. Well, fraudsters are doing this too, but they’re often ending up in the wrong place - and often they are tempted to stick it to the shaft band near the top of the shaft so that it’s easy to spot - perhaps to make it look more authentic to the untrained eye. So if there’s a holographic sticker, make sure it’s where it should be.

How to spot a counterfeit head on irons and wedges

Take a careful look at the head of your iron or wedge and assess the quality. The shape of the club head can be a real giveaway - does it look different to the heads of the rest of your clubs? Is all the paint in the right place and is it all inside the lines? What does the font lettering look like - does it match the brand? Often the lettering will be thinner on a fake golf club so this can be a good clue. The ferrule (the black piece that can be found just above the club head’s hosel) tends to be shorter on a counterfeit iron, so this is another place to focus on.

Next, take a look at the finish of the club head. Are all the grooves even and are they a consistent depth across the club head? Often a counterfeit club head will have a shinier finish than a genuine one. Finally, check out the ‘bag chatter’ of the club - the little dings and dents here and there that are caused by clubs knocking together in transit or out on the course. A genuine forged club will have plenty of these telltale signs, whereas a counterfeit doesn’t as it tends to be made from a cheaper material.

How to spot a counterfeit head on drivers, fairways and hybrids

A few of the giveaways will be the same on heads for drivers, fairways and hybrids. An overall assessment of the quality of the club should include looking at the paint fill and the colour and accuracy of the paint, too. Again, the font may give you some clues - is it thinner than usual, or not as deeply impressed into the club as you might expect?

Have a look at the branding and lofts - they can often be in slightly the wrong place or the wrong colour on an inauthentic golf club. The club head itself might be a different shape than you might expect, the face angle could be slightly off and the adjustment adapter might not be lined up accurately. Check out the serial number and compare it to that of a genuine club - is it in the usual size font, or is it bigger or smaller than usual?

Perhaps the biggest clue when it comes to spotting fake drivers, fairways and hybrids is the weight of the head. Counterfeits tend to be heavier because they aren’t made of titanium. Not sure how to test if it’s titanium? Use a magnet! It won’t stick to a titanium golf club, so if the magnet is sticking to your driver then it’s more than likely a fake.

How to spot a counterfeit putter

When appraising a putter to understand if it’s genuine or not, many of the tips above will still apply. For example, take a look at the fonts and colours and see if they match up with a genuine putter. As we all know, the hallmark of a great putter is in its tiny details, and if the alignment is in any way incorrectly set up then this is probably a fake.

Signs to look out for when spotting a fake putter

Another thing to look at is the removable weights underneath - they should sit flush with the rest of the putter and if they are protruding then that’s a good indication that you may not be looking at a genuine putter. Run your fingers along the bottom of the putter and you’ll be able to feel the edge of the removable weight. Check out the finish too - what does the milling on the face look like?

What else to look out for

It’s not just golf clubs themselves that can be counterfeit; the used golfing accessories you buy could also be fake. It is not uncommon to come across counterfeit head covers and golf bags. These can be spotted by taking a look at the stitching and lettering - is it accurate and are the colours as you would expect? The material might be of a lower grade than you might expect, too. If there is a closing mechanism like Velcro or a zip for example, does it align properly and has it been accurately fitted?

Are knock-offs worth it?

Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘is it okay to use counterfeit golf clubs?’, especially if you’re a beginner and can’t spot the difference between a fake and the real thing. It’s easy to understand why people might be tempted to play with a counterfeit golf club, but the truth is that these fakes are so substandard that they will adversely affect your game and prevent you from progressing.

Not only this, but you’ll also find that fake golf clubs have a far shorter lifespan. So it really is a false economy to buy fake golf clubs, for many reasons. And don’t forget, you won’t be able to sell them without finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

At golfclubs4cash we strongly advise all our customers to avoid counterfeit golf clubs at all costs. By buying genuine equipment you’ll be supporting the golfing community and you’ll be playing safe in the knowledge that you’re using clubs that will elevate your game. You’ll also be supporting the genuine manufacturers and retailers of golf clubs rather than lining the spammers’ pockets.

What can you do to reduce the number of counterfeit golf clubs?

At golfclubs4cash we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the amount of fake golfing equipment that’s on the market. It’s never nice when we hear about how our customers have been scammed, so we’re always here to advise on spotting fakes if you need us. We are doing our best to spread the word, as the more we educate people on how to spot the fakes, the harder it will be for fraudsters to pull the wool over people’s eyes. So if you do one thing today, share this article with your golfing friends, and do your bit to help educate the golfing community.

We keep our blog updated with the latest news in golfing, including buying guides, how-to guides and a raft of commentary including the latest advice on avoiding counterfeit golf clubs. Make sure you follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest golfing offers and deals.

When you buy preloved golfing equipment through golfclubs4cash, you can do so with the utmost confidence that every single item we stock is guaranteed to be 100% genuine. Nothing gets past our expert eye, so rather than buying through an unknown retailer, it’s always wiser to purchase through a tested supplier.

Check out our extensive range of used golf clubs, equipment and accessories, and get in touch if there’s something in particular you’ve got your heart set on and we’ll do our best to help.

PS. Find out how we rate the condition of the second hand golf clubs that we buy and sell. We add more than 500 items every single day for worldwide delivery, and every item is meticulously checked to guarantee authenticity.