CLONES/KNOCKOFFS: A Far Less Expensive Option for Golfers Who are on a Budget or just Price Conscious
Clones or Knockoffs as they are commonly referenced, are essentially copies of brand-name OEM (original equipment manufacturer) golf clubs. Not exact copies – but very close in most cases. A good clone/knockoff can often provide the same performance, quality, and technological features as brand-name clubs, but do it more cost-effectively without the high spending cost of advertising/marketing associated with the big brands. Quite often, these clones/knockoffs are every bit as good as name brand clubs.They are usually produced at a time lag of one or two seasons behind their name-brand counterparts.
Clones are typically manufactured from the same components as the originals, albeit materials may slightly differ. Clone manufacturers buy their club heads, shafts, and grips from the same small community of suppliers as name brand companies. Clone golf equipment is not the same as “counterfeit”. It is 100% legal and within the patent & trademark limits. Many reputable companies sell clones. You might also find it very surprising that these clone designs are often approved by the name-brand manufacturers before they are released and are frequently based upon previous manufactured molds & dies.
We can build a basic well-equipped “custom-fit” full set of 14 golf clubs (woods, hybrid, irons, wedges, putter) without headcovers for only $400.00!
At BetterGolfShot, we have tested and played many different clones of all types. Our research and practical testing has determined the following results:
Clone/Knockoff – Irons
Clone iron heads have nearly identical playing results under all conditions. For an iron head to comply with USGA required standards, there is very limited room for major breakthroughs in design. The designs are basically almost generic and fall into one of 4 design categories, which are all based upon weight placement and center of gravity. These categories are 1) Perimeter Weighted; 2) Slotback Weighted; 3) Center Weighted; 4) Peripheral Toe/Heel Weighted. Often the graphics are the only distinguishing feature between Clone/Knockoff iron heads and their OEM counterparts.
Clone/Knockoff – Woods
The clubmaker must be savvy when selecting wood heads. These can vary far greater in quality than clone/knockoff iron heads. Some are made very well, while other can have a cheaper construction with a tendency to break down after time. Wood designs can close to OEM heads with less features, or can be different enough in look and feel to impact performance. There are some very good ones in the marketplace.
Clone/Knockoff – Hybrids
As for clone/knockoff hybrid club heads, most of the clone hybrids available are nearly identical in terms of appearance and playability. We have found the clones to very closely mimic the OEM designs and performance.
Clone/Knockoff – Wedges
The wedge category in golf clubs is the least regulated. That is why there are a ton of independent companies that only make wedges or both wedges & putters. For the most part, Clone/Knockoff wedges are equal or closely match the performance of any OEM wedge at any loft.
Clone/Knockoff – Putters
OEM putters are very well designed and manufactured. However, the prices can be quite steep. For the golfer that wants to get the same performance at a much lower price point, the Clone/Knockoff putter is the way to go. These less expensive look-alike versions perform every bit as good as the OEM name-brand putters. There simply is too little difference for the average player to notice.
Lifespan of Clones/Knockoffs?
Like any clubs, if you treat them right, they will last a long time. Clones/knockoffs can last as many years in terms of service as OEM clubs with a few exceptions. But, a good clubmaker should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and provide you with a quality set. At Better Golf Shot, we know “Clones”, because we’ve tested and played all the ones we use in set building for our customers.
At Better Golf Shot, we have serviced many customers with clone (knockoff) clubs. Many of these golfers have had their less expensive clones for 15-20 years. Take care and maintain any clubs and they will last for decades..
Not all off-brand club heads are clones/knockoffs. There are also many smaller boutique club manufacturers out in the marketplace that you may have never heard about. The giant name-brand OEM’s tend to try and squeeze out or buy these smaller companies up. Many of these companies are just small upstart businesses with unique engineering and innovative designs. Golf history is littered with the chronicles of great little companies producing wonderful equipment that just fell by the wayside without the marketing budget to compete with the big players.
But these companies keep popping up and some make great golf clubs that you won’t necessarily see in the pages of Golf Magazine or on the Golf Channel. They tend to put their cash into research and development instead of marketing. Their forte tends to be the engineering, design, and production of high-quality golf clubs, but with offerings at a lower price than the major company players. These smaller companies can often experiment and produce innovative components as well as different combinations of overall performance design.