Last spring, I finally decided to upgrade my equipment and hopefully, my score along with it. I read reviews at golfreview.com for a few days and finally decided on the reasonably priced Big Bertha Titanium 454. Once it arrived, I eagerly took it to the driving range, anticipating longer, straighter drives. I had been playing a set of Wilson Pro Staffs (my first set) and could hit the driver effectively, but much shorter than my friends. Well, long story short, I took the 454 to the range for a week straight and kept hitting a 90 deg. slice. I mean, totally nasty. I kept thinking it was my swing, so I would concentrate harder on my mechanics. Unfortunately, it never improved. As soon as I'd switch back to my old school Wilson, I'd be smacking drives, albeit fairly short.
Now that I have a greater understanding of the amount and variety of counterfeit items readily available, I am convinced I own a fake club. In addition, I went to Golfsmith and hit a 454 in their facility and there was no comparison between my club and theirs. Their 454 had a much more solid feel & impact, and the "ping" sound at impact was different.
If you visit TradeKey.com, you can search for "golf clubs" or even by particular brand. All of the items shown will be made in China, some even advertised as "authentic." TradeKey.com basically connects the "average Joe" to a Chinese supplier of the desired merchandise. By doing so, they supplement the growth of the worldwide counterfeit market and more importantly, the number of fake merchandise on eBay. If anyone can get on TradeKey, buy a Callaway driver for $50, have it in hand within 5 days, and sell it on eBay for $150 (and get away with it), they will start replicating this highly profitable scam more and more. Thousands of eBay sellers are doing just this and most are making lots of money selling knock-off merchandise to unsuspecting buyers.
A recent search showed the following drivers as being counterfeited and in stock: 1) DRIVERS: Callaway - FT-3, FT-5, FT-I Neutral, X460, Big Bertha 460, Big Bertha 454; Cleveland - Hi-Bore XL, Hi-Bore; Nike - Sasquatch 460, SUMO, Sasquatch Sumo2, Sasquatch 5300, 4950; Ping - G10, Rapture, G5; TaylorMade - r7 460 Draw, r7 TP SuperQuad, r7 SuperQuad, Burner; Mizuno - MP425, JPX; Titleist - 905R.
So, in closing, what can you do to prevent yourself from buying a fake club?
1) I only buy golf merchandise on eBay from authorized golf resellers (3ballsgolf comes to mind). It's easy to tell who these sellers are from their listing format, inventory, and feedback.
2) Familiarize yourself with the club specs before buying it. Golfreview.com is an outstanding resource.
3) Make sure the seller shows actual photos and many of them. Stay away from listings that only feature a stock photo.
4) Take your club to the driving range. Hit a basket or two, and then visit your local Golfsmith to compare the feel, impact, and weight of yours vs. theirs.
5) To absolutely confirm it's an authentic club, send it to the manufacturer for "regripping" or some minor repair. I know Callaway will clean/regrip their clubs for free & will also analyze the club.
There are great deals on eBay, but hundreds more fake clubs than people realize. When buying, keep in mind how easy it is for a seller to obtain fake clubs, and keep your guard up! Ask questions! Demand actual photos and an in-depth item description!
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