Shoes, suits, hats, underwear, golf clubs. None of these should be bought online without being tried on first.
But golfers around the country have a huge appetite for online products, so it’s time to point out the pitfalls and point to the sites you can trust here in Australia for much of your online shopping.
David Tease has caddied professionally on the Australian PGA tour and plays off scratch himself. Obviously, he buys lots of golf equipment, and knows his stuff. Here’s what he thinks about buying equipment online:
“There’s a lot of counterfeit golf equipment out there now.
“Ten or 15 years ago you could tell the difference between counterfeit clubs because they’d feel totally different to an authentic club in your hands. Now though, it’s a lot harder.
“It might only be something like a different shade of paint on the club head than normal, or a digital stamp instead of a proper serial number, and even the golf shop owners sometimes can’t tell.
“Anecdotally, about 25 to 30 per cent of the golf club equipment on sale is fake. I’ve been burnt about four times from memory.
“eBay is where I’m most wary. Just because the trader moves a lot of product doesn’t mean they know or care about golf.
“I’d be very wary of purchasing big brand (Callaway, Titleist) products that are located in Hong Kong or China if they are trading through eBay and don’t actually own a bricks and mortar location of their own.
“Having said that, I’m happy to buy from eBay if I am after a specific type of club from a specific brand, especially if the brand is a smaller company. They are not likely to sell you a counterfeit club because they are smaller and don’t need to move a lot of stock to be successful, therefore you are more likely to get something authentic.
2. Japan can be trusted
“It would be unfair to say Asia is full of counterfeiters though, because Japan makes some of the best, most progressive golf equipment in the world, perfectly built, precise, quality. Think brands like XX10, Srixon and Miura; you can’t go wrong with those brands.
3. Gumtree is more local but still a minefield of counterfeiters
“The number one problem is that a golfer goes on holiday in Asia or overseas, and buys new clubs because they are cheaper, then sell them on a classified site like Gumtree, knowing they are probably counterfeit but not worrying about the integrity of saying so.
“Sometimes, even the seller doesn’t know that the clubs are counterfeit. If there is a problem, there’s nothing you can do to address the problem. At least with eBay you have some protection with your purchasing.”
4. 3Balls golf is the model I like
”It’s an American website where, even here from Australia, you can trade your old irons and clubs for new ones, or other second-hand clubs they sell. These guys are meticulous in their inspections of golf clubs they sell and purchase, even clubs they sell second-hand are treated meticulously. And they have their own bricks and mortar. I have no problem dealing with this kind of website.
5. No savings buying golf balls from overseas
“A lot of golfers like to buy bulk balls, especially Titleist Pro V1s, but you don’t really save that much. You can buy cheap Titleist balls online, but these can also be knock-offs that are clearly inferior to the authentic products.
“You can buy golf balls that are graded on eBay; they range from Mint to B-Grade, and these are second-hand balls. To be honest, by the time you buy bulk from overseas and pay the freight, you’ll be saving such a small amount of money it isn’t worth it.
Ed’s note: Golf Box is selling lots of brand new balls at the best prices online in Australia. Authentic, quality, free shipping and next day delivery. Awesome.
6. Apparel can be trusted
Cheap golf polos, garish pants, shoes … you can trust most of it, even on eBay.
According to The Golf Society Managing Director Aaron Camilleri apparel is a safe buy online but only if the seller is an authorised dealer of particular products.
“We haven’t seen much counterfeiting of the products we sell, and if there was that’d be chased up by the brand themselves,” he said.
What about websites that claim they are authorised, but aren’t?
“Yes, that’s an issue, but we haven’t seen much of that yet.”
Mr Camilleri said counterfeits can be noticed by comparing fabric colours to originals, and to check the quality and finish on the seams and pockets.
7. Anyway, you’ll save if you have a club pro
You can’t buy a golf game. That means it doesn’t matter how much you spend on golf clubs, the only way to improve your game is through developing a good relationship with your club pro and buying a few lessons from him.
Usually a club pro who sells you clubs will check on your progress with them, make adjustments to them for you and actually cares about your improvement. That doesn’t happen with online purchasing. Yes you save a few dollars, but you miss out on the other important stuff.
Got a club-fitting horror story? That will be the subject of our next story. Is club fitting worth the $150 you have to shell out? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org