Fake apparel, equipment prevalent

Big problem: Golfers at the Ascendant tournament at TPC Colorado this week. Fake apparel and equipment is not isolated to Malaysia, but stretches across the globe some say. — AFP

THE local golf industry is facing serious issues with fake apparel and equipment, and very little is being done to address the matter.

This was the unanimous response to TeeUp’s enquiries put before a wide cross-section of the golf fraternity.

It should be mentioned forthwith that several companies and/or organisations declined to respond when seeking comment on the subject.

Surprisingly, if not alarmingly, the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) chose not to respond to our enquiries when contacted on the matter.

After some stakeholders were advised of this development, in the wake of them suggesting TeeUp source comment from MGA on it, it drew laughter from some quarters, while others questioned how the national association could remain quiet on such an important matter.

In their mission statement, the MGA say that they, “as the governing body of golf in Malaysia have been entrusted to promote the game, while preserving its traditions and integrity”.

It should be mentioned that several big international brands with a presence in Malaysia, also declined to comment. A a couple of others chose to disregard the enquiries altogether.

This too raised a few eyebrows, unsurprisingly. Indeed, it led to the suggestion that some of them might well know more than others about the issue.

TeeUp’s enquiries were borne of much chatter recently on social media platforms and around the golf clubs about talk centred on fake apparel and equipment being handed out in goodie bags at events and fucntions, and other such occurrences.

They touched on a few pointers, including how serious or big a problem it was, if any particular brands were being singled out in the process and generally what their thoughts on the matter were.

For reasons of confidentially, the names of the respondents have been withheld, but one thing that ran true through nearly all the responses, was that fake apparel and equipment is a “big problem” in this country, that it has been around for “a long time” (some suggesting almost three decades) and that immediate action should be taken to address it.

A member of a family run retail business, with its headquarters in Kuala Lmpur, said that “the issue has been rampant and visible for over 30 years and over time has transcended the industry to penetrate everything from drivers and irons, to putters and golf balls, with fashion wear not spared either.

Another retailer said it had “infected the global golf economy of legitimate businesses with perhaps billions of dollars lost in revenue, downtime, brand positioning degrades, damaging company reputations and lost consumer confidence.”

A spokesman for a retail chain noted that “fake goods have been around for some time, but it really hit new highs during the pandemic and with the markets re-opening again.

“The authorities need to act on this without delay and impose strict penalties to help stop this illegal trade,” he said.

A representative of an events company said they had “heard of and seen fake apparel handed out as part of goody bags for events.

“It is mainly the polo shirt segment that is the biggest problem. And as we know in Malaysia, part of any golf event goody there must a polo shirt in it to justify the entry fee that a golfer has to pay to participate.”

A spokesman for another well-established events company lamented: “We’ve lost quite a number of tournament tenders because the organisers are working on tight budgets and some are new to the trade and have little awareness of the difference between the fake and original products.

He added that “with the convenience of trading online, it has become easier for anyone to offer counterfeits at much lower and more affordable prices.”

A spokesman for a company that sources equipment and accessories from within the Asian region, noted: “Soft goods such as golf bags, head-covers and apparel are more likely to have fake items in the market.

“This is mainly because soft goods are not seen by golfers to be essential items like hard goods, for example drivers, fairway woods, hybrids or irons, whose product quality can affect your performance on the course.”

He added that “normally fake apparel will target the renowned brands, which retail at much higher prices.

“Local brands and some of the less-known overseas names, do appear to feature less counterfeit products on the whole.”

Almost all of the respondents that commented on the issue said the case of a “willing buyer, willing seller” scenario helped drive this illicit trade.

“I think counterfeit issues exist not only in golf, but across all industries. As sellers, we must do our part by educating our customers how to differentiate genuine versus fake products.”

He added: “Enforcement should be practiced by the respective departments and authorities to help stop this and clamp down on these counterfeit products.

“Companies and people hosting and organising events should also be educated on this.

And this is where the authorities like the Malaysian Golf Association can come in.

“They should be helping the golf industry.

“If they do not, then these things, like fake apparel and equipment will continue to find their way into our golf industry and prejudice legitimate retailers and events companies from a decent and lawful livelihood.”

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