Now you have The Facts in Part 1 and The Traps in Part 2. In this post I will cover how to protect yourself when you make that online club purchase.
What you should do to protect yourself from these counterfeiters. Make your purchases from someone with an extremely high feedback store (1000 or higher) and preferably from a seller with their own eBay golf store. Many legit sellers offer money back guarantees if the club is returned within a week or two. This allows you the chance to have a golf professional or shop owner take a closer look at the club for authenticity. Make sure the seller provides close up pictures of the club at various angles (face, crown, head), and provides a detailed description of the condition of the club, shaft type, grip type, etc. Finally don’t be afraid to ask the seller any questions you might have. If anything about the item makes you feel suspicious just pass. The great thing about eBay is that there are usually plenty of people selling the same club. Most importantly, have some form of buyer protection like PayPal or another pay service in the case you get a counterfeit item. Don’t pay with a check or money order. Moreover, paying for anything with cash or check these days is sheer stupidity. Now, what should you do if you feel like you’ve been scammed? Follow these steps to try and get your money back and maybe discourage the scoundrel from doing it again:
- If you have received fake clubs file negative feedback before the listing is removed by eBay
- If you have used PayPal as your payment service, file a complaint at PayPal as a Fake Tangible Item
- If you’re waiting for your clubs, still file your Complaint & Claim as the sellers of fake clubs will ship the clubs after the allowed amount of time by PayPal to file has expired
- After you file a complaint – Click on the complaint transaction at PayPal and escalate it to a “claim”. This will freeze the seller account until PayPal or eBay can sort out the facts
- Check the sellers’ feedback rating. Read the feedbacks. If they have even one negative for selling a fake,…move on
- Ask them for serial numbers that you can verify. If they are not willing to provide one,…move on
- Never, ever buy clubs that are coming from China. (Or anything else, for that matter.) It’s just not worth the inherent risks involved.
The happy ending. I recently purchased the Callaway Fusion Big Bertha Irons 4-PW for $497 with shipping! This set goes for $1,199.00 in stores and averages $750 used. I bought them from a Powerseller Global Golf Exchange who has an 99 rating and has over 24,000 transactions. I am happy to report that the clubs checked out authentic . . . right down to the magnet test! Not familiar with the magnet test? Read on. . . Here are a couple of things that you can do to test the Big Bertha Fusions for authenticity:
- The serial number (located on the 8 iron) has 10 digits. Fakes frequently have nine or 11 digits.
- Check the serial number with Callaway (you can call or check through their website).
- The real fusions have a visible seam near the perimeter of the club face where the titanium face is plasma welded to the body — the fakes do not.
- The real fusions do not have numbering on the club face. Some fakes do.
- Compare the numbering font on the sole of the club sole to a club in your local golf store. No match = fake.
- The shaft logos on fake often read “RCH System 75″ instead of “RCH System 75i”.
- The shaft logo should be charcoal grey in color — not green or olive or red, etc.
- Magnets will stick to clubface of the fake clubs because of they are steel or other lesser grade materials. The real Callaway Fusions are made of tungsten/titanium and magnets will not stick to the clubface.
Well. I hope that you’ve learned something. This series took quite a bit of research and writing but I hope that it will help someone avoid a rip off. If this helps leave feedback or shoot an email to email@example.com.
How do the sellers get buyers to buy these clubs? Here are just a few lures that the unscrupulous sellers use to reel in the big fish.
The Perfect Feedback Score (AKA Trust Me!): A ratings of 100% positive feedback is not uncommon for these rip off artists. However, if you analyze the feedback you’ll find that the score will usually show less than a couple hundred persons leaving feedback. The feedback is mostly from sellers, not buyers. And my favorite wrinkle in the inflated feedback ploy is that the positive feedback is primarily from buyers and is usually from transactions made more than 6 months ago. Feedback after six months ensures that you are not able to see what they’ve bought or sold as the postings have been archived by the site.
The Pressure Sale: Most of the time the item will be sold with a “Buy Now” item option with a very reasonable price and an short auction deadline, enticing the buyer to buy it before someone else finds the unbelievable deal. The seller will often be selling a large number of clubs in auctions set to expire around the same time so that they can dump their inventory before any bad feedback is given. Be patient, a good deal can be hadof you apply my tips.
New Clubs are Better than Used, Right?: Usually the counterfeiter will list the club as new and show the same stock picture for all their clubs. Callaway and other club companies strictly control who can resell their clubs. If you can get new clubs for hundreds less from some schmuck online, why would Dick’s Sporting Goods put them on the shelves at twice the price? If the picture is not an actual picture taken of the club, ask for a picture of the actual item. Often, the picture won’t match the description, for example the a picture of a left handed club is displayed for a club with a description of a right handed club. Generic descriptions are common as well.
My Loss is Your Gain: Does the seller explain his willingness to part with the clubs at a bargain-basement price by claiming that he “won the clubs” in a tournament or raffle, or that they were “a gift” that he doesn’t need? I see this VERY OFTEN on Craigslist! Sellers of counterfeit golf clubs on the Internet often use these and other reasons to justify the suspiciously low price. I’ve even seen the “my husband was injured” or “my Dad just past away and the family needs the money” ploys used.
So you have The Facts in Part 1 and The Traps in Part 2. Look for my 3rd and last post in this series where I will cover how to protect yourself when you make that online club purchase. Please comment if you find these posts helpful.
Thanks in advance,
My apologies to all who have been waiting on this post. It took a bit more research and writting than I originally thought. Once I typed up the post it was several pages long so I have decided to break the guide into multiple posts. I’ll post one or two parts a week so please come back to visit the site!
- On an average day, Callaway will receive 4-5 reports of suspected fake Callaway golf clubs being offered on eBay
- With the exception of Ping, there are NO club manufacturers that are currently manufacturing in the United States
- 15 to 20 percent of all goods in China are counterfeit
- Clubs that retail for $70 to $90 each cost $3 to $5 to make in China
Very sobering facts that should give the golfer looking for a deal considerable pause. I can only imagine the pain and anger someone might feel when they discover that they have purchase counterfeit clubs. I did my homework to mitigate the risk of buying my latest set of clubs online. Now, I am passing on what I know to you.
How can I tell if I have Counterfeit?
Serial Numbers: Around 2002, Callaway started adding serial numbers to their clubs. On woods the numbers are printed very faintly on the back of the heel of the club head. The serial numbers on their irons are under the grip so they are harder to check. The number also appears on the 8 iron as an industrial strength sticker just above the hosel. The absence of this sticker alone is not always a tip off as it can be removed with a little elbow grease and Goo Off. I have been guilty of removing it from my Big Bertha 2004 8 Iron purely for aesthetics. Mizuno and many other brands have their serial numbers on the hosel (part of the head that connects to the shaft) of each wood and iron. This is not true for Callaway and if you have irons with serial numbers on the hosel you have a fake.
Some counterfeiters are putting realistic serial numbers on clubs. If you have any hesitation, contact your authorized retailer or Callaway Golf Customer Service. They will be extremely helpful in determining if you have been duped. Remember, because a club has a serial number does not mean that it is authentic, you need to check it! Another possibility is that you have authentic Callaway clubs but they have been reported as stolen.
“But it’s a tour edition!” I have heard this as an excuse for selling non serialized clubs, The fact that is true only provides a counterfeiter the ability to sell a club that doesn’t have one. Unless you buy it from a pro shop or other reputable retailer, don’t by tour versions of Callaway clubs.
Logo, Lettering and Color: The second tip is pretty simple. Pay attention to the logo’s, lettering, and coloring. Many of the fakes use lettering or numbering that differs from that of genuine clubs. The fonts (character styles) are selected not only to represent the image of the company but to make counterfeiting difficult. Go to a local pro shop also so you can compare the item(s) you might plan to buy or have purchased to the pictures on the selling site. If you can, take a digital photo of a club at your local golf shop for direct comparison. The color of the club is often a tip off as well. Callaway uses specific unique colors on their clubs. If the shading is not a direct match, it may be a fake. Some clubs may even have misspellings. I once came across a TaylorMade T5. <– TaylorMade makes an R5 but not a T5. Would you buy a TailorMade?
Check the Shaft: One of the things buyers tend to overlook is the shaft. Adding a fake shaft to a real head not only significantly reduces the overall value of the club but can change the weighting, etc which will ultimately make a good club head play like a cheap knock off . Take a look is the ferrule (the piece that connects the shaft to the head). If the ferrule is not the standard part or has been replaced, the shaft has likely also been replaced at some point in time and may be an indication that it is a counterfeit club. I personally don’t buy clubs without the original factory shaft offered at retail.
The Magnet Test: If the clubs include models that are supposed to be titanium, does a magnet cling to them? If it does, the clubs are counterfeit. A magnet will not cling to titanium or tungsten clubs. This test of course doesn’t work for Steel clubs like my old Big Bertha 2004 Irons but it does work for the pricier Fusions that I am carrying now.
Read my next post on how these counterfeiters find decent folks (all golfers go to heaven) to make a very costly mistake!
A large number of my visitors are looking for tips on how to determine if their clubs are genuine or fakes. I’ll be researching and compiling all of the tips for you in an upcoming blog update. Don’t miss it. Visit often or subscribe!
Do golf balls make a difference in play? I have read in both magazines and books that the ball you use doesn’t matter for beginners or high handicappers. I say they are WRONG! Consistent ball flight, spin, distance and roll are crucial to both developing a reliable swing and lowering your handicap. I’ll use my personal experience to prove the point.
When I recently began to pickup the game of golf again, I started with cheap balls ($12-19). I used the TopFlite XLs (RockFlites as they are often referred to) . Being away from the game a while and not having a swing I could rely on, I quite honestly didn’t notice how ridiculously hard these balls really are. Moreover, I didn’t actually believe that there was any real difference in the overwhelming choices in balls in your typical sporting goods store, nor did I believe that you could select a ball that might help improve your game in some way. I only picked the TopFlites because I could reliable buy them in yellow (a good color to play on the frost covered fairways during the winter months in Virginia). Despite my reason for purchasing them, I am convinced that because I was able rely on the distance and roll that using the same ball make provides, I was able to improve my game more quickly than had I jumped around using whatever ball that I could find. I would actually argue that individuals who consistency use the same ball make can adjust to a new unknown ball much more quickly that the bargin bin crowd. After a few holes, the experienced player can adjust to the ball that he is playing. The key here is CONSISTENCY. Golf is a game where consistency is one of the keys to success.
Having said that, the TopFlite XLs are horrible balls. I recently found one on the course while I was playing a practice round and decided to pit it against the new TopFlite D2 Feel. Wow! What a difference in almost every way. Audibly, the XL was loud and made a distinct clank when hit with my Callaway Fusion Irons. Even my wedges seemed to labor to get the ball to the spot I was trying to hit. If a ball can feel “heavier” than another ball, this one is it. The vibration up the shaft actually made me wince off the tee.
On the other hand, the TopFlite D2 Feel with it’s “dimple-in-dimple” (hence D2) technology and significantly softer cover was a very playable ball. I lost an average of 10-15 yards off the tee when compared to my “go to” ball the Callaway HX Hot. But the Hot is not a ball made for feel (though it works just fine around the greens and is still my ball of choice) and the larger amount of compression on s softer cover is going to sap some of the energy generated from the ball strike.
If there were a ball that I wish I could afford playing with all the time, it would be the Callaway HX Tour 56. This is a softer version of their HX Tour ball and is very nice around the greens. However, at an average cost of $40 per dozen, I’ll just have to dream about a making it my “go to” ball.
This is one of the most exciting times in golf. Yes, the majors are done. The Prez Cup is over. All that’s left that most of the public will watch is the Ryder Cup. But for a true golf fan, you can still see so “meaningful golf“. A large number of golfers on the Nationwide Tour are vying for 25 PGA Tour cards. The top 25 at the end of the fall season get ’em = the rest go to Q school <– another pressure cooker. Also, the top 125 on the money list already on the PGA Tour get their cards renewed for next season. There are a number of notables fighting in these lasts tournaments to win enough money to get those cards renewed. Jesper Parnevik and Justin Leonard are among those battling it out at the Valero Texas Open.
On a personal note: The change of seasons have done a number on my sinuses. I’ve been out of commission for 3 days. No golf in 3 days! The weather here has been great but I’ve been dealing with sinus pressure that made me feel like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head! It got so bad that I missed work as well. I couldn’t even sleep. The fever broke about 8:30 tonight. I’ll try to get in a couple of holes tomorrow AM. I am working on a post regarding golf balls. I’ll post again before Monday.
Congrats to Jack and the US Team on a sound spanking of the International Team.
Here are the results:
• Scott Verplank, U.S., def. Rory Sabbatini, International, 2 and 1
• Ernie Els, International, def. Lucas Glover, U.S., 2-up
• Phil Mickelson, U.S., def. Vijay Singh, International, 5 and 4
• Mike Weir, International, def. Tiger Woods, U.S., 1-up
• Angel Cabrera, International, def. Woody Austin, U.S., 2 and 1
• Adam Scott, International, def. Zach Johnson, U.S., 2 and 1
• David Toms, U.S., def. Trevor Immelman, International, 2-up
• Stewart Cink, U.S., def. Nick O’Hern, International, 6 and 4
• Geoff Ogilvy, International, def. Steve Stricker, U.S., 1-up
• K.J. Choi, International, def. Hunter Mahan, U.S., 3 and 2
• Charles Howell III, U.S., def. Stuart Appleby, International, 2 and 1
• Retief Goosen, International, def. Jim Furyk, U.S., 2 and 1
Note that in my previous post I predicted a 6/6 split. It ended up a 5/7 split. I missed the mark, however, on the winners of the individual matches. Thank goodness I’m not a betting man!