MyGolfSpy Labs! – Clone Golf Clubs vs. Name Brand

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The 30-Year Debate! is going to be a good one golfspies!  The topic we're covering in Edition #2 of the "MyGolfSpy Labs" is one of the most debated topics the golf equipment industry has had for the past 30 years!  But one you've never seen put through a test like we will today .  Ever since the late 80's and their gain in popularity and pro shop owners not happy with their profit margins on name brand clubs began selling clone golf clubs...golfers have always wondered.

"Can clone golf clubs perform as well as the higher priced name brand golf clubs?"

Well today you're going to find out once and for all. And I think you might be in for quite a surprise!  Today is the ultimate test: Clone Golf Clubs (vs) Name Brand Golf Clubs. This topic has been pretty taboo and heated for many reasons.  Whether you are the golfer that spent $1200 on a set of irons and feel the need to justify that expense to your friends and wife 😉  Or you are the name brand rep that doesn't allow a pro shop to sell the clone brands side-by-side your name brand product.  Or you're the website that would love to write an article like this, but worry about the repercussions you might feel from an OEM advertiser.  The reasons are many why this topic has not been fully addressed and this is one of the reasons we felt so compelled to cover it for you.  Almost every golfer has an opinion about the topic when we felt it would make for a great "labs" article.

Some Things You May or May Not Know

  • First off you might be surprised to know that in the computer industry the clone market was huge...and believe it or not names like Compaq, Dell and Gateway all started as clone computer companies.
  • Counterfeit golf equipment is NOT the same as clone equipment.  Clone equipment is within the patent and trademark limits and for the reputable companies selling clones is 100% legal.  You might also find it surprising that these clone designs are often approved by the name brand manufacturers before they are released.
  • Nickent Golf actually started out as a clone golf company...yes Nickent.  TourEdge also started as a component company.
  • A few reputable clone companies online get their product made at the same foundry that a few large name brand companies get their gear made. (Yes that myth is true)
  • There are basically 3-tiers of golf club manufacturing to make it simple.  The top-tier which has a larger capacity and better quality makes the top brand names.  The 2nd tier often makes some of the mid-size golf companies that a lot of you play but they also make some of the top components and clones for companies like Golfsmith, Hireko and Diamondtour.  And the 3rd tier generally have the smallest capacity and make some of the lower end quality equipment and clones you run across.
  • Counterfeits like we said are NOT the same as clones and the counterfeit equipment is often the cheapest and lowest quality equipment.  You may wonder what the difference is between the counterfeit vs. clone.  A counterfeit is a club design that purposely attempts to deceive you into believing it is the real thing.  For example it will look identical to the name brand model and even have the same name (ex: Taylormade R11 will be on both soles and look identical).  Clones fall within legal guidelines and do not have the same name, markings or overall design.
  • Many clone companies and component companies offer product close in quality and performance compared to name brand equipment.
  • For those that are dead set against should remember this....many name brand models are modeled after other companies designs as well.  And some use the exact same molds.
  • I will say this...often times the quality of things like welds, finishes and materials are not as good as the name brand model.  But even this line is blurring with some of the reputable clone and component companies out there in recent years.
  • Are there bad clones...YES.  Are there bad name brand designs...YES.  Are there clones that are made with poor quality...YES.  But the same thing can be said about some of the name brand models as well.  I have seen some things that would shock you about the quality of some of the BIG name brand models.

My perception of what I see around me is that golfers fall into two categories. The guys whose clones (similarly designed recreations of clubs from the big golf companies) rattle proudly in their bags, and there are the guys that wouldn't dream of playing something that wasn't made by a name EVERYBODY knows. The clone guys will tell you that the name brand stuff is overpriced and doesn't perform any better than the OEM stuff they were designed to look like. The name brand guys...laugh as they gaze at the clones with icy cold contempt.

Is It Possible?!?

After all, there is no way on this green earth that a clone with an assembled price of less than $100 ($59 head only) could outperform a club from a popular golf company with an initial price tag of $300 right?

Hmmm...we think maybe there's a chance it might....Let's go to the lab!

What We Tested

For the name-brand model we tested a "TaylorMade Tour Burner 2010". For the clone model we tested a "Heated H", which we'd classify as a mid-teir clone of TaylorMade's once popular driver.  There are better clone models of this driver, although we decided to go with a mid-tier model.

TaylorMade gets credit for the original design.  But both models tested were 460cc titanium drivers. They both feature "dual-crown" technology, and of course, a lower center of gravity for higher launch, and lower spin. Apart from obvious esthetic differences, one noteworthy point of differentiation is that the Tour Burner takes a .350 tip shaft, where as the clone (the Heated), takes a .335.

How We Tested

To make this as apples to apples as a comparison as we possibly could, we pulled the stock shaft on the Burner, and outfitted both drivers with the new Mugen Black shaft (60 gram, stiff flex) from Harrison Golf. As with our test of the Shotmaker, shafts were spined and FLO'd. Once the epoxy dried, shafts were cut to a relatively modest 44.75" inches. We took a quick reading on the DigiFlex and found only a 2 CPM difference in frequency between the two clubs. Both clubs were then outfitted with Winn PCI-TL grips.

For actual testing we used the same protocols we use for our ULTIMATE Reviews. 3 golfers were asked to hit a series of 12 shots with each driver. Two of our testers hit the Heated first, while the 3rd hit the Burner first.

RESULTS! - (Performance)

Distance For each of our 3 testers, the "real" Burner was the distance winner. But I think it would surprise most to know that only by 5.8 yards (2.2%).  For those interested in carry only, the Burner was 7.11 yards longer on average, which we think is significant.

Accuracy When it comes to accuracy the results are less cut and dry. If we simply look at the raw averages we see that the Clone was actually more accurate! The adjusted average numbers look even better for the clone as, with the 2 best and 2 worst shots removed from each tester, the clone is 3.5 yards closer to the center line on average.

Swing Speed Perhaps one of the more interesting discoveries to come out of our testing was that club head design appears to play a legitimate role in producing, or perhaps limiting club head speed. For all 3 testers, the TaylorMade Burner produced measurably higher clubhead speeds than the clone. In fact each of our testers produced average speeds 2-3 MPH faster with the Burner. Looking at the group as a whole, we found that the Burner produced swing speeds that were on average 2.39 MPH faster than the "Heated" clone.

Ball Speed As you might expect, higher clubhead speed produces higher ball speed. With the Burner, our testers produced ball speeds that were between 2 and 6 MPH faster than with the Heated. As a group, ball speeds averaged a full 3.5 MPH faster with the name brand Burner.

Spin While many manufacturers are promoting less spin off the driver, the truth of the matter is that the distance equation is far more complex than less spin = more yards. Clubhead speed, and launch angle are both significant factors in determining ideal spin. Very generally speaking, the slower the swing speed, the more spin (and higher launch) becomes desirable.

With respect to backspin the numbers are incredibly close. Not one of our testers showed more than 300 RPMs between drivers (Dan's average was less than 15 RPMs between clubs). For 2 of the 3 testers, the Burner produced more spin, however; as we've suggested, not by any significant amount.

When it comes to sidespin, the Clone generated an average of 81 RPMs less. While not a tremendous amount in raw form, from a percentage standpoint it works out to an increase of 15.7%, which when you're trying to keep a ball in the short grass, probably is a significant amount, and helps to explain the difference in accuracy between the clubs.

Launch Angle and Apex For the most part, the Burner and the Clone produced similar launch characteristics. The average difference between the 2 clubs was just slightly more than .25 degrees, with the Burner producing the higher launch for 2 of our 3 testers.

Not surprisingly, the Burner also produced the greater shot height for 2 of our 3 testers. On average the apex of each shot was just slightly under 2.5 yards higher with the Burner, which along with higher ball and club head speeds explains the difference in carry yardage between the clubs.

RESULTS! - (Subjective)

Because MyGolfSpy Labs doesn't put a score on things, rather than have our testers fill out our surveys, we simply had a discussion about the subjective aspects of our two drivers.

Looks As you might expect the Burner looks much more refined. The shape is cleaner, the graphics are more polished (dare I say professional), and the paint quality is clearly superior (our clone is already starting to show some wear in the middle of the crown, well away from any impact zone). While the TaylorMade Burner is a true glossy black, the Heated has what I'd call a medium gloss gray. While the dual-crown technology is visible in both, on the TaylorMade Burner it's much more subtle and refined. On the Heated it's more noticeable, and perhaps even distracting.

With a higher quality manufacturing process the clone design might actually work. At a distance it looks pretty sharp. Up close...ummm...not so much.

Incidentally, what we believe to be generally true is that it's not just clones, but also respected component brands where the single biggest differentiation between their product and that of the big OEMs isn't performance, but rather polish. Bigger golf companies have more money to spend on the details, and while ultimately those details many not directly impact performance, I can tell you with certainty that given two clubs with similar performance attributes, the prettier one will always sell better...even if it's more expensive.

Sound and Feel TaylorMade has a reputation for producing great feeling, great sounding drivers. And while I might argue that over the last couple of years they've taken a small step backwards in those areas, they remain largely ahead of the curve. Of course, the Tour Burner was produced before things took a slightly downward dip. The Heated, however, much as I would love to tell you that it offers similar feel, I can't.

All of the testers agreed that in terms of sound and feel, the clone is miles behind the real deal. While the Burner produces a pleasant ting and outstanding feel at impact, the Heated was often described as clunky, almost heavy at impact. In my opinion this is the single greatest point of differentiation between the two clubs.


There are a practically infinite number of clones for every significant new driver that hits the market each year. Obviously this test doesn't begin to cover all of the combinations. Instead our goal was simply to determine whether or not a no-name clone could outperform a driver from one of the biggest names in golf. By utilizing the same shaft (cut to the same length) in each driver, we've come as close to an apples to apples comparison as we possibly can.

Looking at the performance, there isn't, in my mind, a clear winner. Some golfers place an absolute premium on distance. If that's your game, then it's hard not to argue with the 7.11 yards of additional carry (or 6.03 yards of total distance) that our testers showed with the Burner. If however, you place a premium on accuracy, though not as conclusive, there is some suggestion that the clone could be the more accurate of the two heads.

What I do believe is a reasonable conclusion based on the totality of the numbers is that there is not a significant performance difference between the TaylorMade Tour Burner, and the Heated clone. On performance alone, it's hard for me to justify spending the extra $200 (based on initial MSRP pricing).

Of course, golf clubs are about more than performance. If it was that cut and dry we'd all be playing the same club. It's not. Other factors, the subjective stuff...looks, sound, feel, etc. all play a role not only what we think of a club design, but also how we perceive performance. What proved to be reality for our testers is that despite similar performance, the differences in the subjective categories (in this particular case) are potentially enough to suggest that for some there is indeed $200 worth of improvement to be found in the Burner Tour.

As much as I preach performance first, there's only so much I'm willing to sacrifice in terms of esthetics, sound, and feel. In the case of the Burner Tour vs. The Heated, the Heated offers too much of a compromise, even at a 1/3 the money. If you have a greater tolerance for the absence of feel, or unpleasant sound (and we know many do), then perhaps it's time you stopped paying big bucks for name brand equipment, and started looking into a quality clone. Our numbers suggest a clone offers more bang for the buck.

About Tony Covey

Tony is the editor of mygolfspy. His coverage of golf equipment extends far beyond the facts as dictated by the companies that created them.

He believes in performance over hype. #PowerToThePlayer

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Howie Stevenson April 8, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Do you recall a clone called “Arnie’s Own” several years ago?
The Cobra clone had the unique Cobra hosel and the Taylor clone heads were painted brown and the shaft were brown and black. No bubble but the Taylor colors.
Can’t find a reference when I Google it


Robert Yoakum October 16, 2015 at 1:04 am

So in a nutshell, the clones sound and feel like crap with less distance. Got it, thanks! Also, Gunmetal mentioned Maltby suffered from the poor clone quality. Yes, I know this is a 2011 article. No need to point that out and recommend starting a new thread for those who insist on making that there life’s mission. Unless it’s done in jest…of course. The important thing to me is the name brands hold there value and sell quickly used where you don’t get hardly any interest advertising used clones and almost have to give them away to get them out of the garage. I have more confidence standing over my X-Hot and enjoy owning them without having to hide the label X-heat. However it’s one less excuse because I know it’s me and not the dam POS X-heat.


Jim Dahle August 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Any test involving equipment using humans seems flawed – the particants had to realize which club was being used and to completely eliminate that mental factor had to be impossible. A test such as yours would better be done on mechanical equipment such as the ball manucturers use. Eliminating the human factor suggests we can hit a golf ball off the tee with precise consistency if we use the same club. We do not. Okay, you somewhat mixed it up. But: Fatigue, digestive progress of our breakfast, coffee, momentary humor, stance vaiation, conversational distraction, realizing the consequences of the hit, ball life, audience . . . all are factors in our normal tee shots. They must have played some part in your tests. However to say if we hit one thousand shots with the same club we can get a very good idea of our results. Fewer? Not so much. The grib and weight had to translate into a mental file. However: the result you provided does tell us that one club seems not twenty-five percent better to justify the cost difference, but as with a new suit, cost is a factor to most people – some believing the lower cost buys the good-enough quality and some believe they deserve the best, and humans equate ‘best’ with price. If a manufacturer doubled his price on his highest priced clubs (let’s call them “X”) making no other change except price (lets call the inflated priced clubs “Y”) and taged the Y clubs “ultra” – sales would probably increase for ‘both’ clubs, some wanting “the very best” because they’re priced higher, and some saying “This club looks just as good and I can buy it for half the price of the other!” The mental human factor. And all golfers know it isn’t them, it is the clubs.


Tony Walker July 7, 2015 at 11:05 am

Your tests compared apples to oranges, so your results didn’t surprise me. Anybody that uses a cheap clone head should be able to figure out why there’s such a difference in price. Test Taylormade drivers against a couple of the top tier non-OEM companies like Bang and I’ll be interested in the results.


labillyboy July 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm

I was somewhat disappointed. Expected an article comparing clone(s) plural. All you did was test one club head… pretty worthless really. Go back to the drawing board and get a fair representation of the better quality heads and their nearest OEM head. Do a couple of irons too, test a 9, 7 and 5 iron from 4 or 5 different popular clones and their OEM twin.

That would tell us all something about OEM vs non OEM in general… this test didn’t do that.


Frank June 28, 2015 at 11:21 am

I would like to share input on iron comparison. I have been hitting fitted Giga Golf TRX slot irons. I recently purchased, and have been hitting a fitted set of Ping G30 irons. Both sets have the same loft per club. I found that both sets hit almost exactly the same distance with the same loft, atleast I cannot notice any difference. I found the Ping’s to be slightly easier to hit off of different lies and are less sensitive to slightly less then a good strike. Both with graphite shafts, about $200 for the Giga Golf set, $800+ for the Ping’s. I might be having a slight case of buyers remorse but I’ll get over it since both sets are fine clubs.


DB March 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm

So…somewhere along the line, we forgot what part of the article was about – actual comparison of Driver X versus Driver Brand. Iwant to know why you didn’t do the same for irons?

As for the clone argument, are those on the side of the big manufacturers going to stay on their side if we take this argument to “off brand” manufacturers who design and make some very good clubs but don’t have the budget to promote like the giants? I’ll use Infiniti as an example. Nice little golf club maker. Yes, they’ve followed the design pack for years – cavity back, perimeter weighting, thinner faces, titanium drivers, carbon fiber crowns, etc. They design their clubs but they look amazingly like many other top brands. I’ve used their 302 model iron for years now and just recently compared their performance against several of the leading irons on the market. Results I got tell me I’m sticking with what I have for now. I didn’t get an extra 10 yards and I wasn’t dramatically more accurate. In fact, I enjoyed better le from my 302’s. I’d love to see MGS compare irons.


Rob January 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Great read!
If I understand the anti clone side I should pay $200 for a TM fairway wood with a slot design stolen from Adams, with a Carpenter steel face, developed by Golfsmith many years ago, using a de-contented Graffalloy or other major company shaft, painted exactly like the real component, because golf is a game of integrity!
Let’s not forget the Titleist Speeder shaft which is a Graffalloy Pro Custom, ($20) shaft or Calloway’s sourcing their shafts from several manufactures with only the barest of specs.


John January 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I’m a 9 handicap and own a set of clone irons I bought from Diamond Tour last year, Taylormade Speedblade knock offs. I like them a lot, price was great, looks are great and pleased with the performance. Personally I would love to see a test of these irons matched up against the real McCoy. I think the clones would hold up very well but yeah I’d love to see the hard numbers and see the results from various spots on the irons for consistency. A lot of the posts in this thread are opinions, I prefer facts.

Now woods I have a little different take. I think there is some difference there and wasn’t too happy with a couple of clone drivers I’ve purchased in the past which couldn’t match the performance of a 10+ year old Orlimar driver. So I just bought a “real” Titleist driver. Paying full freight is worth it if the performance dictates.

So bottom line don’t leave this subject here Golf Spy please do a test of clone irons!


Ike Turner August 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

What is the length of hybrid.


joe April 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Well.i found the clone world years ago,.and love em. .every year get fever,and build a new set of irons,..its a lot of joy, looking at sites,picking the pieces, then having them built just for me.(first most important,.get an thoro golf fitiing from a pro- for what your going to build, the truth is out there! it is the best $100 you’ll ever spend in your golf club will be right if you dont build to your stats, dont go by some charts, too many variables) it amazes me what quality you can get for so little,.i buy from most,.but like Diamond tour, and ingolf(tracy), very pleasent service. OK, dianond tours own shaft in smoke is just gorgous,and cheap,(deep smoke,or gold) DT’s heads, and winn grips. if you go with cheapest components, you can get a set really cheap, but why not buy a little better, and get a set worthy or even better than store sets for half the price.? Example, a set i built last year,.winn tac mac grips(the best)DT’s smoke shaft,(as good as a 30dollar shaft)black& silver ferrells, and DT’s cavityback blade heads in smoke/black color, (really sharp) with all 4 Diamond Tours wedges,.and 2 matching hybrids(#2,#3) with head covers,..BUILT for ME, (short man), so set was shortened cut,shafts spline alin, lie angle changed 2 degrees flat, loft angle adjusted, all assembly,packed, shipped to my door,..for I think it was around $ 450 +/- ! ! Where are you going to get something for that? and its fitted perfectly to you,(from your pro’s stats) everyone looks at my clubs, and get really impressed by the beauty,..and they play very good. at this price, you can keep in trunk, travel without worrying to much,..the set the year before,i tried razer clone heads,got a little rust in grooves, and diamond tour took them back, and build me an upgraded set for small little extra,.! who would do that ? so just pick the better heads, I think they do a good job building, but you might want to get the parts and find a builder (like the pro you got fitting) and get maybe a meticous build, swing weight matched closer maybe,.but for most, the low price is based partly on supplying work for their shop too…And don’t just buy for looks,..get the stats, and match the right components for the performance you really want. then you’ll really be happy, and love your set..and it will be right…


Don Roberts September 30, 2016 at 5:14 am

I agree with most of that. I have a set of irons by Affinity. No one knows what they are. They swing quite heavy compared to most but I got used to them. Had to get a hybrid custom built cos the Affinity hybrids swing weight was indifferent to the irons. Happy now. Oh , incidently, this thing about the heights of people I feel is not an important part of the fit. If you line 50 men up of varying heights with hands at their sides you will find almost all, regardless of even 5’6″ or 6’6″, their hands will all be at about the same height. Unless its Oscar Peterson.


Dan February 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

I’m a 73 year old guy with a bag full of unmatched clubs (some clones, some brand names, all with the same grip) that worked his handicap down to 6 at the age of 72. I don’t care what a club looks like or sounds like, if it feels good in my hands and performs well for accuracy. In my experience, an average length hitter who hits very accurately will beat a long hitter with low accuracy, almost every time out.
You can do lab tests forever, but if a club does not feel right for your swing, it doesn’t matter how it did in tests.


richard September 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm

i’ve built mell clubs for 12 yrs.i made a mellow yellow driver,9.5 degrees, with a proforce stiff shaft.took it to course and was smashing it.a scratch golfer ask to hit it.he drove on an average,15 yards pass his ping driver.but would he let me make him one or buy mine?no way.i”ve made lots of clone clubs,but never made another like the bang mellow yellow.aas amatter of fact,i just received a new 10.5 degree mellow yellow head. still undecided on shaft. still hitting clone irons……


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm

From what I understand, Bang Golf doesn’t make clones nor knock-offs. They make their own designs. A different animal than what the test was.


Jay July 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Just a quick note to say i recently decided to take up golf. I’m broke n in college so i wanted a cheap set of irons to get me started. I picked up a set of King Snake MRs in the local ads for €25. They were almost new and i could tell they had only been used a handful of times. When i researched them i found they were clones of the Cobra King Cobra set. Having never played before i cant say too much but my mates who’ve played for years were impressed after trying them out. I think the easiest way to decide is level of ur game vs. level of ur income. When i get good i’ll probably be buying legit but golf is a pricey enough sport as it is so for now; CLONES ARE AWESOME!


Jeff Makowski April 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

I am searching for a component head company to do business with and could use some help. I have built clubs as a hobby for some time and certainly am happy to hear your testing results on brand names vs. clones. I certainly believe there is little difference in shot results from an overall performance. I have purchased components from Golfsmith, Golfworks, Hireko and Diamond Tour Golf to name a few. I would like to purchase clone component heads from China but I am skeptical because I have no knowledge of which companies to trust. Can you point me in the right direction?
Thank you,
Jeff Makowski
Cell: 586-489-9735


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Wishon Golf, GolfWorks, and Golfsmith are good quality with their own designs. Tom Wishon has a lot of golf club patents from when he was the designer for Golfsmith and since he started his own company years ago. He was trained by Ralph Malby who started Golfworks. as far as I know, Bang Golf has their own designs as well. There are other companies with their own designs – not knock-offs nor clones.
Too bad the comparison wasn’t between those brands and TaylorMade rather than a head that was a copy of TaylorMade.


Chops February 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

This is a topic I’m always interested in. I’ll start off by saying I have both OEM and “clone” clubs in my bag (I have the new Taylor Made R1 driver which I love that just replaced my old Taylor Made R7 and Ping 3 hybrid, and some older Ping woods). I also have a few different sets of clubs and many extra clubs lying around the house. The one thing I’ve discovered is that there is a big difference between quality with regards to clone irons and woods. I currently have both Pinemeadows and Giga Golf irons and couldn’t be more happy with them. I have bought a couple drivers from Pinemeadows that happened to be on sale just to tinker with and try them out. Both I felt were manufactured from just poor quality materials all around (shaft, club head and grips). In fact, I cracked the club face on one of them within 6 outings. As far as irons are concerned, as long as the material used is of a certain quality I’ve come to the conclusion that stamped metal is stamped metal. As for the rest of the components that go into the club, some of the companies give you a choice of components. GigaGolf offers True Temper shafts as their standard shaft and you can upgrade to different shafts and grips of your choosing. Pinemeadows offers a lower end shaft as their standard, but you can upgrade too. So, in the end, I would never buy a clone wood, but have no problem playing clone irons and my preference for those has become GigaGolf as I’ve found their quality quite good.


Charlie November 22, 2012 at 7:36 am

Pab, if you have read the posts above you should come away confused (as I am) as to whether non OEM brands might be best. For me, I purchase OEM then if anything goes wrong I have a legitimate beef with the supplier.

Having been in manufacturing all my life and seen what quality can and cannot be, I wonder about the quality of all clubs today. Exterior dimensions are one thing but how good is the quality of the actual material that went into making the club head and shaft. Then if it is assembled, how well is it assembled. Too many variables. In my opinion, like I said, I would go with OEM.

By the way, I played with an 86 yr old man and he had all mismatched clubs. He played 6 over par and was so accurate to the green and on the green.


Pab November 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Speaking of non OEM brands, which of the following irons will be best quality for play- Maltby, Wishon,, Alpha, Kzg, Hireko, etc. I had back surgery with only partical success and will be playing limited golf so I would like to buy a good quality ( as close to OEM as possible) non OEM set of irons and have them custom fit. I was looking at the 85 and 75g steel shafts also.
Used to play tourney plus perimeter weight forged irons with stiff gold dynamic shafts – those days are gone. Looked at the Hireko acer xds iron heads and they looked pleasing to eye, decent finish, the right off set.Need to have a 6 iron built up and hit it. Do not know how close they are to spec or how they rate to the other good non OEMs. Thanks for the help.


javier vigil October 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Wow, I didn’t think that this would spark this much emotion from people. Cool. That was a great article, anything that can spark so much emotion and debate is a good thing. My opinion, I think that what ever works best for you is what you should buy. If you can’t afford the latest and greatest, do some research and find something that will work for you at a price you can afford. The real enemy here is the counterfiet club not the knock-off, in an age where we are all trying to bring more people to this wonderfully aggrevating game I think that the knock-offs help fill a price point and allow more people to afford to play the game. Bottom line though is that no matter what fitting is the biggest goal, whether or not the clubs are name brand or knock-offs. I would actually like to see more tests done on off brand stuff, like the KZG’s or Warrior custom golf (you know who you are, I played them to). Thanks guys, have fun.


joro3743 October 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

Although I have made several sets of look alikes mostly from Hireko I have found the Irons are great and although they should always be checked for loft and lie after assembly that using a good shaft the work just great. I have hit them myself and compared a set of them with my name brand and really with the same shaft,,,, they were every bit as good and a bit better in some respects cause I made them to fit and every component was checked.

As far as woods go, I stick with the name brands because there is a lot more to a wood than just to look like the other. A lot of research goes into the wood and as Frank Thomas once said, a 3 yr old Wood is obsolete with the technology of today.


Brad Jefferys July 9, 2012 at 4:34 am

I play a complete set of Ping I20’s purple dot. Normally shot between 16 and 21 over on the courses I regularly play. I recently played golf without my set while visiting my brother. I played a set of extremely cheap looking rental clubs. I’m glad the rental only cost me $15.00 any more and I would have been upset at myself renting them. Anyway shot an 83 at a course I never played on with clubs I never swung before. However, it was 72 degrees, blue skies with great company and cold beer. There is so many aspects to playing this game, and so many different things that can effect how we play. I think people make such a big deal about the equipment because it appears as if it is the easiest thing we can control. But based on my experience, clubs don’t really effect your score too much. If your shooting 92 at your home course with a set of Ping’s you can shoot a 92 with clones.


Randy Boyd July 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I have a mixed bag of “Name” brands and clubs from Giga Golf. I can’t say enough good things about the quality of the clubs I have purchased from Giga. They perform just as well as my old Pings for a fraction of the cost. Sorry the average golfer is not able to drop $3-400 for a driver or fairway wood. Giga provides a great club for the average golfer at an affordable price.


bullwinkle July 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Guys, I have a fairly unique perspective on this issue. I worked for Arnold Palmer Golf back in the dark ages and built and sold clones and knock offs for 20 years. There is a difference between Branded Merchandise and Clones, and that is largely quality control. I’m talking pure clones not Bang, Geek, Krank, etc. which are probably built to higher and tighter specifications than are branded merchandise. I no longer build drivers or sets, because I was checking iron set I received and the individual weights varied as much as 12 -15 grams which can be huge. Factory heads seldom are more than 1-2 grams off specification. I used Geek Drivers in Senior Long Drive Competitions, none of which I won, but it wasn’t because of the Geek equipment, it was a faulty swinger (me) not the equipment. Steve Almo is among the most knowledgible individuals I’ve ever met in the Golfing industry, and if I had to make a judgement on whose opinion was more accurate I’d have to support Mr. Almo every time.

Summing up what I said, clones made me a lot of money but I couldn’t sell them now due to pretty much zero qc on the part of the importers. Branded products are made with higher quality control, but mistakes still happen even with tighter controls, just not nearly as often. Quality components are available from private brands that may be higher quality than major branded equipment. In my humble opinion Geek and Krank and maybe Bang are all longer than the Rocketballz Driver with similar shafts.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 2:12 am

Both my Acer XK’s and XF’s were all either on spec or less than one gram off (.8g being the farthest off). My DTG S2 Pro’s were both on spec. The only one that was weird was the DTG Turner True Speed Ablaze… its tolerance was 3g (standard for all drivers), but it weighed in 3.7g over. So, of all the clubs I’ve ever owned, one club was .7g past tolerance. Clones have come a long way since “the dark ages”.

Of course, this is my individual experience. In no way do I have the means to measure every single piece of equipment to find out how many clones or OEMs were outside of tolerance… but I’m willing to bet it’s not as much of a disparity as some people would lead you to believe.


dick July 3, 2012 at 10:11 am

Can’t help but weigh in here. Years ago Maltby (Golfworks founder) did a quality study on the tolerances of his clubs versus clones, don’t recall if he sampled OEM’s as well. The point of his article, as with any good marketing person, the tolerances of his product offerings were much tighter than the competition.

Does seem disheartening that GolfSmith and GolfWorks would be lumped into second tier. Most people probably don’t realize that GolfWorks was the innovator of custom perimeter weighted clubs, both irons and woods. Many OEM designs came from the product offerings of these companies.

I’m not a big fan of clones or knock-offs. I do proudly carry 3 – PW Maltby MMB’s (forged blades) with Project X shafts, custom fit to my length. As a mechanic, I’ve been building my own clubs for the past 26 years, and yes I have quite an inventory. I can’t say I’ve chased the next new thing, only last year did I move the a 460 driver, of course I had to build three. Couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I liked best.

The deal is, my bag cost what some people pay for a set of irons. And I have the benefit of custom fitting and the best components.

In my bag, Callaway I-Mix driver with Fuji 757 Speeder, Integra Quadratic 3-wood with a Golfsmith Snake Eyes shaft, (best damn fairway wood shaft I’ve ever seen), 18* Snake Eyes hybrid, 3 – PW Maltby MMB’s, 54* Maltby Forged Wedge and 60* Snake Eyes Forged Wedge and a Maltby Putter.


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Golfworks (Malby) and Wishon Golf (Tom Wishon) are two of the best.


Bob May 28, 2012 at 6:30 am

Lets go back to Hickory shafted clubs, even then there were manufacturers inserting steel shafts inside. Take a look back at some of the old clubs and you will see there’s nothing new. Square headed drivers made from wood in the 1800’s.
The real issue is what so called reputable companies charge for their equipment. I understand the average iron costs less than $10 to make that’s head shaft and grip. Clone manufacture has or no room for using inferior quality materials if the Callaways, Titleists or Pings of the world were to charge to give a reasonable profit rather than charge to produce huge margins. I have no sympathy for these so called established companies, if they reduce their prices the clone companies will not be able to compete and make enough money to make it worth their while. If golfers were in the world of buying by results club sales would shrink to almost zero. How many of us have purchased the latest whoopie doo driver to find no difference in handicap.


Denny October 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Great article! Funny how the name brand club manufacturers try to bury information that might hurt their status and sales. But the same thing has already happened in electronics, computers and even automobiles. A good golf club is a good golf club, no matter what name is stamped on it. Same way with a bad club.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 2:04 am

That’s the sound of the hammer hitting the nail right on the head.


Timothy D Watson September 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I have used the big brands like TaylorMade, component brands like Golfsmith, and unbranded clone clubs. I have seen a few really bad Adams, Callaway, Cobra, Nike, and Ping clubs. I have seen a few really bad knockoffs. I have also seen some really good clubs, despite being complete knockoffs. Obviously, many big brand clubs are really good and almost always lead the trends in golf technology (maybe not originally came up with all of the ideas). Good, original component brands have been slightly better on average for me, but not by much. The brand doesn’t seem to make much difference in quality to me. Price and materials/construction don’t necessarily mean everything in my experience. In the end, it is hard to figure out the quality of a specific model of golf club without using it for a significant amount of time on the course after buying it. Frustrating…


STEVE ALMO August 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Clones what good are they? Truth is…clones are good for people that just cannot afford a Major brand and/or a custom set! It is just that simple!

It’s about money and the lack thereof in 90% of those that buy clones! Of course, they would like to purchase the real thing and/or get fitted for a truefit set. They just cannot afford it! So, they go in that direction.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 2:03 am

I have the Acer XK driver and 3w, the XF driver, XK 3h, XK irons, XF irons, XB wedges and San Miguel putter… even though the XK’s have been relegated to the dugout, I wouldn’t trade any of them. Just to finish it off, I also have DTG’s S2 Pro 3h and 4h and Inazone CNC Shadow wedges. I also own a Sasquatch, SuMo 5000, Callaway FT-3, 5 and 9, a Speedline, a W/S Smooth (finally- been wanting that for a while), a Burner SuperFast 1.0, a Turner True Speed Ablaze (DTG), an Inazone XC-7, Odyssey WH XG #9, Odyssey DF #5, Adams Boxer A3 3h and countless wedges from Cleveland, Nike, Callaway, TMag and Adams. I’ve also had the WH XG #7 (RIP…) and irons from Tour Edge. This doesn’t count the shafts, grips and balls I’ve gone through.

My point? Don’t lump everyone into a category. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum: I bought the Sasquatch and 5000 when they were brand new, thinking I’d get some sort of golfing nirvana with each new release. I was disappointed, but it lead me to all my other purchases, which in turn allowed me to develop the same conclusion that MGS showcased here.

You are right, though, that golf is an expensive game. It’s unfortunate that it is that way- but these clones/component brands do offer some that may not otherwise get the pleasure of playing such a great game a chance to do so. It also amazes me that anyone can play summer league baseball with a beat up mitt and an older bat, or a game of school yard basketball with an old ball and still have a lot of fun, but with golf people are made to feel they have to keep up with not just “technology”, but the Jones’s as well. How is the overall health of golf these days?


Tom R August 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I don’t play clones because I can’t afford the name brands. I choose to play them because I refuse paying the inflated prices to pad their advertising budgets and salesman’s expense reports. Why else would a top tier golf ball cost up to $5… maybe advertising and exorbitant overheads?
I’m 62 and have been playing golf since I was 7 and up until recently, like most people, played name brands forged clubs. I now own a complete set of the GigaGolf forged cavity backs along with a set of Giga woods and play to a legit 7 handicap. The feel and feed back at impact is as good as any clubs I’ve played. Some of you that shout the accolades of name brand clubs and tell everyone else the pitfalls of playing clones… you probably never hit a quality clone before. You also probably wouldn’t have the balls to show up at the course with them in your bag… after all someone may poke fun at you.
Most of us who choose to play clones most likely at some point played name brand clubs. Have you ever tried hitting a quality clone? My guess is that you have predetermined that a clone has to be an inferior product?
How many 20 plus handicaps do you know that spend hundreds of dollars each year ensuring they have the latest name brand technology in their bag? How many of them are the clubs the least of their problems? Will replacing them with the new name brand technology make a significant improvement to their game? Chances are no…If it does, it will be short lived.
If your not a sub 10 handicap chances are you aren’t good enough to fully take advantage of the clubs your hitting. It’s the swing that matters not your clubs! Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money you save on clubs with clones getting lessons to improve your swing. It’s your money to spend where you chose… I just found better places to spend it.


Shortside November 7, 2016 at 7:20 pm

I play the Pursuit cavity back forged too. Re-shafted mine with Axe Xcaliber SL graphite. By far the best feeling head/shaft combo I’ve ever had. Light and low torque. My back and joints are grateful. No it wasn’t exactly cheap to do, That said there’s a good chance I’ll die with these in the bag. I’ve put them up against the latest and greatest and there’s just not enough difference for me to rationalize a grand for off the rack.

Complete junk notwithstanding it’s all about your swing. Always has been and always will be. The right shaft for the player is far more important IMO. Given it’s what you’re actually swinging. Head is just going along for the ride.

Fact is players with lousy swings are still carding in the 110+ neighborhood if they’re scoring honestly. Even with a $2700 bag of Pings latest game improvement sticks. Amazingly all that expensive hardware won’t fix a bad set up and an outside in swing path.

Surely a $5 golf ball will do the trick!


Stogiesnbogies August 28, 2011 at 6:47 am

I started out 4 years ago with a Pinemeadow clone of the Callaway Big Bertha irons…then moved up to the actual Big Berthas and did feel and see some difference in overall quality….however I did have trouble with one of the Callaway stock graphite shafts which flaked and split on my 8 iron….my feeling is that it would be difficult for me to determine the difference in large part because at the time I was so new to golf.-and perhaps I was feeling more confident with an OEM in my bag……(FYI: I now play Nike long irons and Cleveland scoring clubs and love them!

Bottom Line: For some folks a clone will do…depends on what kind of player they are -or want to become….I’ve used a Pinemeadow clone putter and holed just as many shots as I have with an Odyssey White Hot Two Ball…methinks the main problem with clones might be psychological as one wonders how much better the real thing is…and of course clones have zero resale value if that becomes an issue later on down the road….


cfgolf August 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Theoretically your using the same shaft is incorrect. Why? because one was a .350 and one was a .335. These shafts do perform differently from one another.
Secondly, please read Roy Nix’s article from the AGCP Who’s cloning who. It states that Tom Wishon actually designed the first titanium driver head in the early ninety’s way before any OEM had one on the market. In 1992 he designed the first interchangeable shaft driver head as well. It took 14 yrs before the OEM’s got hold of one of those and now they are all the rage. So to sum it up, the component industry made a lot of the modern technology way before the major OEM’s had any of this gear which to me says that the component industry has a lot more First’s than any of the OEM’s put together. The only difference is that the OEM’s have more money to bullshit the people in believing their product is superior to any body else’s.


STEVE ALMO August 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

That is a ridiculous statement to make that…”the component industry has more firsts then the Majors”!! Then to follow it up with “the only diff is that the Major OEM’s have more money to B.S. the consumer”. No wonder the golfing consumer doesn’t take the component head biz seriously….when I read this type of stuff..I am bewildered.

All those statements do is hurt the component biz. Who is going to take those remarks seriously? It’s almost laughable to make those type of statements! Don’t believe all this nonsense you have heard or read and then presented as factola! The truth is…..most component companies just follow the lead of the Majors and put their spin on the product…now that is a FACT!


cfgolf September 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

Have you read the above stated article I am talking about.
If not then YOU are nothing but BRAND WASHED.
I think that you are just talking B.S.


cfgolf September 5, 2011 at 8:03 am

So you are saying that geek golf that you run is just a spin off as well. nice way to put down your own company


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Actually, Steve, Tom Wishon has LOTS of golf club patents in his name. I agree that most component companies copy other designs. Wishon was (and is) a design leader.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 1:51 am

According to Jeff Sheets (used to work for Golfsmith, wrote a couple of books) there’s really no discernable difference between a .335 and .350 tip. Further, if the same tip diameter shaft (likely .335) is used for both, the shim that would’ve been used for the Burner would not effect the performance in any way.


gregg August 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Why buy a clone when you can get very good used OEM or used component clubs from great firms like Wishon or KZG? Used equipment from Wishon or KZG virtually have no resale value and offer a tremendous value.


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

I know of at least 2 touring pro who wanted to be sponsored by KZG and use their clubs. KZG couldn’t afford them. One of the two is a multiple major tournament winner. (Major as in U.S. Open, Masters, British Open P.G.A. Championship).


FSU#21 August 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

i will give you this professionals point of view. somebody earlier stated that no PGA professional would recomend to a student or anyone for that matter that they purchase copy/clone clubs. that would be true in large part. i have seen time and time again a student come to me with a bag full of junk. usually its the loft and lies that are way off but then you have the improper weighting/balance and the occasional head that goes flying down the range . many of us are affiliated with our own equipment companys therefore recomendations tend to be biased but for those not in a position to get decked out in an expensive set my staff and i gladly help put them in pre-owned/used name brand equipment for often times much cheaper than a new set of clones and even if it does cost a little bit more they make it back in peace of mind.


gunmetal August 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Clones destroy the credibility of Maltby, Wishon, Alpha, KZG, and even what Jeff Summit is doing today with Hireko. Most golfers lump OEM Components in with clones even though these companies do their own R&D and have no intention of copying other companies. Golfsmith has become really copy cattish lately, but mainly because they are throwing in the towel on the clubmaking side of it.


Tess August 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Good points Bob….+1


Charles Lerche August 25, 2011 at 10:38 am

I have a gigagolf driver and a hireko driver and a Powerbilt airforce one driver. All three are quality products, at least as far as I can tell. It is just possible that some of the better OEMs make slightly better clubs, but the question is, as put in the article, whether for the individual this makes the OEM club worth the very substantial difference in price. Of course, if you want re-sell value probably by OEM.


Bob August 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I wish you would have also tested the stock shaft on that clone driver. Shafts can make a huge difference, and fitting an expensive aftermarket shaft in a $50 clone driver seems… well, counter-intuitive. It would have been interesting to see how the original performed.

I’d also love to see more articles on component manufacturers. I’ve been eyeing the Dynacrafts, and drooling over the KZG’s…


Dave Eklund October 1, 2011 at 8:59 am

Great point Bob. I would like to see the stock shafts for each club tested. The majority of consumers are not going to change shafts! I like the test, but IMO for more accuracy the shafts need to be tested with the club.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 1:47 am

Sadly, that’s ignorance on the consumer’s part. Most companies are trying to “get it right” with their stock shafts. Some, like Frank Thomas (former USGA Tech. Director) believes that most stock shafts are good enough for the average golfer. PING, in an older Golf Digest article, seemed pretty adamant that their stock offerings are on par with anything sold in the aftermarket. But there really is no “best” answer… it’s all subjective. What’s “best” for me won’t be what’s “best” for you. HeIl, we may even have completely different views on what “best” means.

I will say that some companies make good in-house shafts. I’ve tried Hireko’s Green Ghost and Blue Crush and DTG’s FGS Nano and I’d put them up against anything out there. Of course, that has to be with an ” * ” because of of all the stuff I mentioned earlier. They’re still something to consider, it’s just they don’t get the play on Tour or heavy ad-machines compelling people to buy their stuff.


Paul August 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Great review! I agree with some other posts. I would like to see head to head comparisons of drivers, irons, hybrids, etc. between OEMs (i.e., TM, Callaway, Mizuno, etc.) and components (i.e., Alpha, Hireko, Golfworks, Snake Eyes, Wishon, KZG, etc.). For example, a comparison between the ACER XF Leggera and TM Burner 2.0. I mostly buy OEM equipment, but I have bought components. I think the ones I have bought (Snake Eyes, Hireko) are very comparable to the OEMs I have had, but it would be great to have MGS make the comparison suing their methods. Keep up the great work!


Lynn Mayhew August 24, 2011 at 1:19 am

I find much at MGS as interesting and informative. I must take exception to the consideration being given Clones. I submit that much is misguided and misinformed. Below is a lengthy paper that I previously wrote on the subject.

Counterfeits and Clones – from the same cloth
Written by L Mayhew 2007 ©

Clone/Knock-Off Golf Clubs: Have cosmetic resemblance to true Manufacturer Clubs, but internally they are not the same. Construction, Material, or Quality. They may have similar names Turner T7, Gallery, and so on. A Clone or Knock off is not hard to see. Go to eBay, or Diamond Tour. Turner T7 that resembles a TaylorMade r7. Note: The FTC considers the terms Clone and Knock-Off to be identical.

Counterfeit/Copy Golf Clubs: Are direct copies of OEM equipment. Lasers are used to copy the exterior of high selling clubs; again, there is no internal accuracy, nor the same construction, material or quality. Counterfeits or a Copy, are much harder to tell and that is why the Golf manufacturers are in fact going after these factories.

Component Golf Clubs: Such as, INFINITI, SMT, NAKASHIMA, and KZG, are original designs and are legitimate and ARE NOT part of any reference.

What’s the harm in buying a Knock-Off/Clone?

The assertion made that many Clones are made in the same factories as OEM clubs is unsubstantiated and simply incorrect. Counterfeit Clubs and Clones are more often manufactured in the same factories in China. So while, technically you may not be buying and thereby promoting counterfeit clubs, you are in fact enabling those same facilities to continue by buying Clones/Knock-Offs.

Knock-Offs/Clone Golf clubs operate in a gray area as described in the article “Pssst . . . Wanna buy some clubs?” (E.M. SWIFT) Determination of trademark infringement is tough to prove and costly. Although new legislation is going to clarify this further. There is current debate at the FTC, and US Patent Office level, on how closely a product can resemble another. These cases have been won in other industries. It is a matter of time and money right now.

There are just too many cases backing up the problems. It has become rampant and that is why ACUSHNET (TITLEIST/COBRAS), ADAMS, CALLAWAY, CLEVELAND, PING, and TAYLORMADE are part of and formed the U.S. GOLF MANUFACTURERS ANTI-COUNTERFEITING WORKING GROUP. Of course the currently have their hands and funds fully committed going after Counterfeit Clubs.

An excerpt from “Pssst . . . Wanna buy some clubs? (E.M. SWIFT)
“Jethro Liou is an expert in the knockoff business. A boyish 25-year-old Californian, he has been selling golf clubs since he was 15. After school he would make cold calls for his father, Ren-Jei (R.J.) Liou, asking pro shops and discount stores if they wanted to order from his line of clubs. R.J. owned Kent Graphtec, an importer of club components from Taiwan and, later, China. He’d have the components assembled at his warehouse outside of Los Angeles and would distribute them to retailers all over the U.S. “The golf business was so good between 1991 and ’97, you could sell anything,” Jethro says. “We were one of the first companies to import from China.”
Kent Graphtec dealt primarily in knockoff clubs, products with names such as King Snake and Big Bursar, simulations of the popular clubs King Cobra and Big Bertha. “The customs people thought my father was [the primary distributor of] King Snake, which in its heyday had something like 10% of the market,” Jethro says, “but a lot of people were importing that product.”
A lot of people eventually got in trouble for it too. “There are different levels of counterfeiting,” says Debra Peterson, a U.S. customs official who was involved in Project Teed Off. There is the direct counterfeit, which is a dead-on copy that carries the legitimate product’s trademark, and that’s illegal. Also illegal is a club that is very close to a direct copy and is termed either “confusingly similar” (if it infringes on company trademarks) or “substantially similar” (if it infringes on design patents). What is legal is the generic look-alike that does not infringe on a company’s trademarks or patents. Some features of a driver, its head size, for instance, cannot be protected, but others can. But with confusingly or substantially similar knockoffs, the line between legality and patent or trademark infringement is often fuzzy and is subject to legal challenge and interpretation. A counterfeiter tries to alter a company’s protected features just enough to avoid prosecution. Whether the result is illegal can be established only in court, on a case-by-case basis; in other words, the aggrieved company has to sue.
Callaway threatened to sue Kent Graphtec over its Big Bursar driver, alleging patent, trademark and trade dress (trademark-design) infringement. In 1997 R.J. Liou reached a settlement with Callaway. Four years later, in March 2001, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ruled that R.J. Liou, Kent Graphtec and Trophy Sports, a separate company started by Jethro and his mother, Yeh-Chyn, in late 2000, had breached the settlement by continuing to sell Big Bursars. The court ordered the defendants to pay $20,000 in damages to Callaway and to turn over their inventory of more than 11,500 infringing components for Callaway to destroy. According to Jethro, the family’s legal fees for the discovery phase alone came to more than $1 million.”

Let’s connect the dots. Nearly all Club heads come from China. The rest (save for some Ping), come from Japan. Clones come from the most of the same Chinese factories that produce Counterfeit clubs. Thereby, purchasing Clones ultimately supports those factories who build Counterfeit clubs.

So how about Sellers of Clones?

If a component seller such as Diamond Tour wants to be fully legitimate, they need to invest fully in true component companies such as SMT, and abandon the practice of selling Clone clubs. Counterfeit Clubs and Clone Clubs, the operators who sell and produce, contribute to higher prices of the legitimate brands.

China cannot enforce without participation of the Patented/Trademark holder. Which they are doing, but it is costly. There have been recent factories busted in China. They are concentrating on Counterfeits and Copies, but again, Clones and Knock Offs are part of the same problem. There just simply is not the time or money right now to go after them.

I need cheap clubs and their just as good.

While laser technology can scan the outside, they do not scan the inside. There are many reasons besides marketing costs why they are cheaper. Material used is cheaper. No Research and Design Costs. No Reps. No Service. No U.S. assembly.

How can a Clone maker or Seller say that they are not trying to fool anyone? A clone of an FT-i is made so that beginning golfers “think” that they are getting the same design characteristics as the original at a budget price. When in fact materials, quality, and internal design isn’t even close.

It doesn’t cost that much more to purchase legitimate past year models. It does however cost money to get started in golf. Starting should also include lessons. A PGA Professional will give a lesson to anyone, but ask them if a Clone/Knock-Off club is a good choice and see what type of answer you will get. For those who feel Clones perform just as well as OEM – I won’t argue that point, you have convinced yourself.

Why is it my problem?

One doesn’t have to be an Attorney to read or be educated on the law. To say that a consumer has no responsibility is, well sad. It is the consumers who have the most power to affect change.

This site is full of PGA Professionals, Company Reps, and the suggestion to use Clone/Knock Off clubs is disrespectful. Golf is a game of honor. You invest your time and should invest equally in your equipment. Clones are a short cut. Make yourself aware. GOOGLE “Counterfeit Golf Clubs” and take a look at how rampant it is. Read further and you will find that the same factories involved are also producing Clone Clubs.

It may be understandable that we as consumers can be fooled by Counterfeits/Copies (Illegal), but there is no way anyone of us could not identify a Clone/Knock-Off (Legal).
It is your decision and right (for the time being) to buy a Clone/Knock-Off. It just isn’t very admirable.

There is a difference in this world with having “the right” to do something, and doing something with honor. It would be more honorable for a person to show up with RAMs purchased at Target than to use Knock-Offs/Clones. The later hurts the Golf Manufacturers and the integrity of their designs, thereby hurts all involved, Reps, Retailers, and yes ultimately the game of golf.

If you agree that Counterfeit Clubs and Copies are Illegal, does it not then bother you that even though Knock-Offs/Clones are currently Legal, they are still made by the same factories in China? That you are giving money to an operation that also conducts Illegal activities?

For those who want to play Knock-Offs, yes it is your “right”. Just ask yourself, have you ever had someone take credit for your hard work? Has anyone ever stolen an idea or proposal you have written? Has anyone ever stolen a customer of yours? Do you not find all of those cases wrong, frustrating, and near impossible to prove? Knock-Offs operates under the same principle. Someone else designed it, so they’re going to laser copy it, skip the R&D, use cheaper material, spend nothing on advertising the new design, and take money from a certain consumer segment. The uninformed, the newbie, the consumer who is jealous of the success of OEMs and their need to earn profits.

An excerpt from “Pssst . . . Wanna buy some clubs?” (E.M. SWIFT)
“Inside was a TaylorMade wedge. Within minutes a graphics designer at Yarn-Way had downloaded the logo from the TaylorMade shaft onto a computer screen and was making minor design and color alterations to it. He incorporated the word Integra into the logo and then submitted it to Liou for approval. The altered logo would be applied to the graphite shafts Yarn-Way was making for Liou’s Integra line. “All you have to do is make a few changes to keep anyone from suing you,” Zhu said of equipment that walks the fine line between what’s legal and what’s not.”

Ultimately the point in all of this is that of all Sports activities, Golf is a gentleman’s game, it is honor, and it is self-policing. Those involved in this great game should have a certain level of ethics. Not driven only by what is legal, but what is right.

E.M. SWIFT, DON YAEGER. “Pssst…Wanna buy some clubs?” Golf Digest 14 Jul 2003.


mygolfspy August 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

One of the quotes from your comment is absolutely wrong.

“The assertion made that many Clones are made in the same factories as OEM clubs is unsubstantiated and simply incorrect.”

Being a designer in this industry I can tell you for a fact that some of the clones that are upper tier are designed in the same foundry that many mid to upper tier name brand models are designed in. THIS IS A FACT.


David August 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

As mentioned above, I believe you should research more on this topic before writing an entire article denouncing the use of clone products.

You were basing most of your information on “Pssst…Wanna buy some clubs?”, which only talks about Integra and Trophy Sports (owned by the same family). Essentially, you were saying that all clone companies operate in the same way. There are many clone companies that submit drawings to name-brand companies for approval before manufacturing the product. So if the name-brand companies are fine with it, why would anyone, that decides to save money on purchasing similar product, be doing the “wrong” thing?

Of course, it’s completely fine for you to voice your opinion, but you should not be critizing other’s product decisions. I believe it was good for MGS to write about this since it eduates people about the other choices they have.


L Mayhew August 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm

The particular article referenced is one of many. Understanding what has happened and continues to happen in this industry is a thread common to all of those who contract for manufacturing in the Far East. Clothing manufacturers have been battling this issue for many years.
Research is provided by credible journalist who have been there, the FTC, and the U.S. GOLF MANUFACTURERS ANTI-COUNTERFEITING WORKING GROUP. The connections between CLones and Counterfeits have been made.


L Mayhew August 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm

There may very well have been rogue foundries that produced Clones while also producing OEMs. Since early 2000, that practice has become more and more limited as the most contracts between OEMs and Foundries, prevent the foundry from producing Clones. It may still happen, but it is less and less.
As many manufacturers of goods will attest, conducting site visits and monitoring factories in China, is a difficult and costly task.
Just because something in a Chinese factory was allowed to happen, does not make it right. It is less and less common.


mygolfspy August 25, 2011 at 5:05 am

Before posting this article I re-confirmed with 3 foundries that they do indeed make them for both markets still. I also spoke with owners of many of the businesses that sell those products and confirmed from that end as well. The one reason that the numbers have diminished is simply because there are less clone companies in existence compared to 5-8 years ago. Now counterfeit producers is a different story.

And also just so you know OEM’s have almost always tried to prevent foundries from doing clone products at the same foundries…but it happens everyday. I do not know if you are getting your information simply from other posted articles or not…but it is once again not the case.


Justin July 6, 2012 at 1:31 am

Tom Wishon, he himself a club designer who has his stuff made in the Far East, backs up MGS’s facts. That’s one of the most credible sources on golf equipment and the up-and-comer in the golf media (with THREE other sources) that shoots down your claim. Sorry bub.


stevenhw8 August 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

I’m sorry but some of your “facts” are wrong.

Those factories not only produce clones and counterfeits… they also produce for OEM’s (I know this because I happen to know a guy in one of these factories)

All big OEM’s admit having their heads and some shafts manufactured in China. So thinking that only clones and counterfeits are made there is just preposterous. Reminds me of the guy from the PING fitting van… yes, all our products are Made in the USA… the you flip the club and it had a big sticker saying “designed in the USA, head manufactured in China, assembled in who knows where”

Thank you MGS for this great, unbiased comparison. Keep them coming!


L Mayhew August 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Please read closer. Nearly all heads are made in China, but that isn’t the point. There are several hundred factories. While there may have been a foundry that produced both OEM and Clone, it isn’t a general rule, as OEMs have strict contracts with the foundries they use, that prevents the practice.


Charlie October 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

While all the content of what you said may be correct there is more to clone/knockoff/etc.

How well are the clone/knockoffs made? Are shafts or heads manufactured to a large (+-) tolerance with the (-) tolerance being the norm or are the parts manufactured to close tolerances? How about paint quality? .

No one knows how sloppy things are manufactured unless you are right watching and know what you are watching for. I worked in manufacturing for over 50 years and watched all kinds of products being manufactured from high quality aircraft bolts to electronic equipment to toys. Wherever corners could be cut in the manufacturing process they were. Even the raw materials received were sometimes out of tolerance.

So, I could care less about design copy as I am the quality that goes into a club. Give me a web site that shows the difference names of club components and the quality of the components so I can make an informed decision so that I don’t have to rely on a manufacturer who has advertised his name to be number one.

As we


dave August 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Orkut drivers = oem drivers. Stupid autocorrect! The only problems with clones is that there aren’t clone golf bags! I’m tired of spending more on bags than I do on clubs!


mygolfspy August 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Clone golf bags…sure there are:


Justin July 6, 2012 at 1:23 am

That camo bag is pretty sweet…


dave August 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I started playing golf 4 years ago, immediately began keeping.g an hcap and I was around a 20. Now I’m down to 6.3, been playing clone irons the whole time and usually Orkut drivers but not always and often times I play an 8 year old Taylor made r510 tp. It’s not the arrows, its the Indian guys. I’m fitted properly to my clones which is half the battle. I made my biggest improvements this year when I broke down and took a couple lessons from Derek Radley of I met him in person at an Lpga event in Atlantic city (he is the caddie/boyfriend of Sara Brown. There is no substitute for having a good swing and practicing the right stuff.


Tom Quaile August 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm

As someone who makes his own clubs and tries to keep up with the latest in the golf club component world, I find it interesting that you would lump Golfsmith, Golfworks and Hireko into the same category as clones. These companies and others (Alpha, GeekGolf, KZG, etc) have very high quality, custom designed components that are just as good and in many cases better than the name brand manufactures.

I for one would like to see more tests of component clubs similar to the Dynacraft Prophet Tour Iron test done a few months back.


mygolfspy August 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I think what is more interesting is that you missed the fact that I stated in the sentence those companies are both clone and component makers:

“The 2nd tier often makes some of the mid-size golf companies that a lot of you play but they also make some of the top components and clones for companies like Golfsmith, Hireko and Diamondtour. “


Tom Quaile August 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

“The 2nd tier often makes some of the mid-size golf companies that a lot of you play but they also make some of the top components for companies like Golfsmith and Hireko and clones for companies like Diamondtour.” — in my opinion would have been more accurate.


David August 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

It appears that you are debating the way he phrased the sentence. Personally, I think his sentence would be more accurate.

While I can’t speak for GolfSmith, Hireko is also considered partly a clone company. While not all their designs are clones, they do carry a large majority of clone heads (which is understandable as they started as a clone company).


Bob Pegram July 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

As far as I know Wishon Golf, Golfworks, Alpha Golf, Geek Golf, Krank Golf and KZG were never makers or sellers of clone heads. I know Wishon wasn’t. Some such as Geek don’t even sell irons. They specialize.


Tim August 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Great story…
I would love to see this same thing done with a set of irons. I am only new to golf but got a set of clones from giga golf for a bargain price.
I am very happy with them but often wonder if I spent double on brand names would it be worth it- they would have to be heaps better !


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