Are the clubs you're playing the real deal?

U.S. anti-counterfeiting group explains what to look for in questionable clubs; World Long Drive gets infusion for 2023; new board game seeks to win best new product at the PGA Show

ORLANDO, Florida — Ever wonder if your golf clubs are counterfeit?

Maybe you should.

Which iron is counterfeit? The one on the right.

Yes, it’s a real thing in the golf world, and the major manufacturers banded together about 15 years ago to help fight these fakes, of which more than 90 percent come from China, according to the U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeit Working Group.

Joe McIntyre, vice president of the USGM Anti-Counterfeit Working Group, is an exhibitor at the 70th PGA Show at the Orange County Convention Center with the purpose of educating all of those in the golf industry about this fake practice, and the warning signs to avoid getting scammed.  

"While we work on the education side we also work with law enforcement in China to take down manufacturers of counterfeit clubs with raids," McIntyre says.

A few tips from McIntyre’s group include:

  • If a website deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Fakes don’t perform like the real deal.
  • Buyer beware when using unfamiliar websites that ship directly from China.
  • Blemishes or "seconds" aren’t a thing in the golf industry.
  • Buy from an authorized dealer in the United States.

He said counterfeiters also make fake balls, hats, shirts, head covers, bags and more.

"If you do go to sellers on eBay, some of the manufacturers do have authorized sellers, but check with the manufacturer before purchasing," McIntyre says. 

"And if it ships from China, chances are it is fake. All the manufacturers we work with assemble their clubs in the U.S., so if it is manufactured in the United States it will ship from the United States." 

Fakes also can be spotted coming from Korea or Indonesia occasionally, McIntyre says.

The Professional Long Drive Association and the World Long Drive are now under one umbrella owned by GF Sports and Entertainment.

World Long Drive is making a major comeback after being sidelined on a TV deal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new owner is GF Sports and Entertainment, which recently announced an expanded tour, the largest purse in the competition’s history and over 50 hours of programming by NBC Sports on Golf Channel over the course of the deal.

GF Sports and Entertainment also acquired the Pro Long Drive Association (PLDA) in December 2022. With that acquisition, World Long Drive will now serve as the singular premier long drive tour, expanding to 12 events domestically and over 30 events being held by World Long Drive affiliates internationally.

The first U.S. event is March 10-12 in Mesquite, Nevada. The World Long Drive will also make stops in Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Utah, Connecticut, California, Georgia and Canada.

"We saw an opportunity to be a disrupter in an industry or sport that lost a lot of steam during the pandemic," World Long Drive CEO Shawn Tilger says.

"At GF Sports we have over 40 years of sports and entertainment experience. We own two ATP tennis tournaments, a National Lacrosse League team, and I was the COO of the Philadelphia Flyers for 25 years."

Tilger said the World Long Drive has great personalities and they have stories to be told.

"We want to be that perfect point between traditional golf and a true entertainment experience with great athletes," he says. "We’ve created a membership model that allows anybody to compete and are working on getting host sites in the community that are outside of our tour events. Anybody who thinks they can do it can compete and have an opportunity to grow in the sport.

"Our priority was global unification and unification of the sport, that’s why we acquired the PLDA because for this sport to grow there needs to be one Super Bowl. That was the concept.

"The PLDA is the athletes and we are the operators — we build spectator events and experiences. It’s going to be a fast evolution."

Long drive competitions over the years have never drawn a huge in-person crowd. So it remains to be seen if Tilger and his team can pump some life into what many consider a fringe sport.

"The number of people at the events doesn’t concern me," he says. "I’m very confident in that part."

A prototype of a new portable golf board game was on display at the PGA Show on Wednesday and is entered in the Best New Product category.

It's called Esthepa Golf Board Game with a slogan of "Everyone. Everywhere. Anytime."

Esthepa Golf Board Game.

The circular game is played with dice and an 18-hole scorecard. Two to four players move real golf balls around the board depending on the dice roll, landing in the fairway or trap or water. Once advancing to the green, a second dice is rolled for putting strokes.

While not in use, it can be hung on the wall as a work of art.

"We’re here to feel out what the reaction is, what the public has to say about it," says Mark Kobe, director of U.S. Operations for Esthepa. "We’re open to any business model. There are only three of these — two are here and other one is sitting in my house."

The board game is 100% manufactured in Columbia and is the brainchild of Diego de Leon Franco. The bottom piece of the game is all recycled wood from the South America country.

"We see this as another golf accessory," Kobe says. "If you love golf in your house, you have your clubs, your shoes, your posters … why not have a board game?"