Putter clones: How to spot a fake
Where are they made?
As with most other products, 90% of the putter clones available today are products of the Far East: Namely China, Vietnam and Thailand.
Because these counterfeiting capitals are also among the fastest
developing golfing markets, it's no coincidence that you'll find knock-off golf clubs being
made there in large numbers both for the local market and overseas.
Putters offer a wide-open window of opportunity for spin off enterprises to sponge from the successes of the top brands.
Some make replica putters which are very similar to the genuine article, but
have a different name stamped on the bottom. Even these are generally illegal because
they breach patents protecting the design of the putter.
Other companies go further and make fake or counterfeit putters which carry
the name of a genuine manufacturer but aren't made by the real company. Odyssey,
Ping, Scotty Cameron, Taylor Made and Yes are the most commonly forged putters. These are
also known as putter clones.
Is it illegal to buy one?
Buying a putter clone or replica putter is not technically illegal, whereas making
and selling most certainly one is. In the eyes of the law of most companies you
will be the victim of the crime of counterfeiting.
Coming into possession of a clone means you have bought a product that is
being sold as genuine without being so, but the crime is in making it and
selling it, not buying. Your putter may even have been verified by a so-called
official who has failed to spot the difference.
Nevertheless, it is universally known that copycat companies cannot achieve
the same quality as the real company whose putter you may think you've bought, so you'll almost inevitably end up with a
How do I know that I've bought a fake?
The simplest way to notice putter clones is to hold the suspected fake or
replica item alongside a putter which is confirmed to be the real deal, selling
at full price in a legitimate pro shop. Obviously this can be difficult to do,
so look very carefully at pictures online, especially if you're buying a used
club on ebay, for example.
Bare in mind that it will be hard to obtain a refund if you're buying a new
product off a
dubious website, and may simply be too costly to be worthwhile if the site is based
outside the country you live in.
Alternatively, you can simply be guided by the price tag. A heavily reduced,
brand-new, top-of-the-range putter is very likely to be too good to be true.
Do fake putters make a difference?
If you're an average handicap player, the difference in performance between a putter made
in a counterfeiting warehouse and the genuine article would probably be very
difficult to spot.
You can certainly make putts with a putter clone! A good stroke combined with a pure strike
are far more important for the results than the authenticity of the weapon of
Putter clones can sometimes be almost an exact copy of the original, but the
catch is the materials that are used.
Take the Odyssey 2-ball clone (the world's most cloned putter) as an example. Cloning
companies have caught onto the popularity of the two ball design and have produced not just fake 2
Ball putters, but also an array of spin-off copies some with three balls and
others with smaller disc-like aiming guides.
The clones and most of the replicas breach the patent Odyssey have for their design, even if the bottom of the
putter is stamped with a different name.
"Big deal", you may think, but if you look more closely you'll find a hitch
that only true connoisseurs would pick up on. The soft "White Hot" or "Ice Hot"
inserts used on this range of putters are a major part of the putter's appeal and
they cannot easily be replicated.
What you get in an Odyssey clone is a cheap plastic substitute insert that changes the strike off the face,
and undermines the feel and success of the putter.
Therefore, if you're considering buying an insert putter in particular, you
should steer clear of anything but the genuine item if you want the fabulous
feel that the original insert materials give you.
Cast or milled putters, on the other hand, are much easier to clone and most of us
would be hard pressed to tell the difference between these putter clones and the
genuine article, even though the technology used to
produce the putter clones will not be anywhere near the same standard.
You'll also see plenty of situations where genuine putter manufacturers are producing
copies and adaptations of older putter designs, such as the once revolutionary Ping Anser style.
This is not illegal, however, as the 20 year patent term on the Anser heel and
toe weighted design has now long elapsed.
Where am I most likely to find one?
With up to 2 million counterfeit golf clubs made every year, it is easy enough to pick one up,
either intentionally or by accident. Remember, though, that the bulk of them are produced
in China, Thailand and Vietnam, so the place you're likely to find them if you
live elsewhere is online.
Pro shops and big name golf retailers usually only allow genuine
manufacturers' products onto their shelves.
You'll mainly find putter clones being sold anywhere that the option to 'try before you buy' is
not available to you. This is because inconsistency in performance and durability
of these clubs would probably put you off.
Another tell-tale sign of an outlet - either online or not - selling putter clones
is the lack of a guarantee which means you have no chance of sending
it back to the retailer
if you're not satisfied.
Here are a few websites that provide advice on counterfeit golf equipment:
For information specifically about Odyssey Putter Clones, click here.
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