Okay, I'm hijacking a thread from over at that "other site." The reason I did not, at this point, post this question there is that there tends to be a bit of brand and fitting snobbery there. The immediate response to any question about clones is that they are "garbage." If your clubs do not have a brand name on them, including Wishon and Maltby, then they are crap. But is that really true? How do clones perform? (I'm talking real clones: not counterfeits and I'm not talking about crap clones that you would find in a big department store starting with W. I'm also not talking about original designs from small houses, such as Wishon, Maltby, Hireko, KZG, Bang, etc.? I think that many, if not most, of the offerings from these smaller companies will stack up against the larger OEMs, so I consider them all quality, top level clubs.)
One of the benefits of posting this question here is that there are active members who are or have been actively involved in designing and manufacturing smaller, quality lines (yes I'm talking about you Steve). I believe there are also people from clone companies that hang out here, too (Diamond Tour and maybe Giga Golf). I would love input from these people. (Steve, assuming that some care was taken with the design (or the lifting of the design) and a good foundry was used, how would a clone of a DCT or FS3 perform? Is there something about the production of these clubs that would make them inferior to your original designs?)
As I say, the response of most people on the other site is that clones, including the Turner brand (it was specifically mentioned) are garbage. There is also a suggestion that there is no reason to buy clones anymore because there are so many places to get used brand named clubs. These can be bought for as little as a new clone. Frankly, I think this is difficult to argue against, assuming that the used club is the real deal and not a counterfeit that has been thrown back onto the market. I think that if I was given the opportunity to bag a clone or good used brand name, I would bag the latter.
My thinking is that there are a lot of golfers who have a lot of money invested in equipment that gives them no added benefit. I don't know how many people I play with who have a couple of thousand dollars worth of clubs in their bag and who, I believe, would play every bit as well with a much less expensive club. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe top brand clubs provide more of the forgiveness that poorer players need. Could that be true? I firmly believe, however, that a well-fitted clone, even if its quality wasn't as good, would outperform a high quality club that is not well-suited to the player. (I played with 5' 0" Korean woman last year who had a complete set of new, top of the line Taylor Made men's clubs. It was frustrating. She had a pretty good swing but played miserably. Her chance of getting that 46" driver around was just about nil.)
I am strongly considering taking 5-10 volunteers, fitting them each for a shaft, and then having them each hit, say, 9 unidentified driver heads, some of which would be brand names, some smaller "boutique" producers, and some outright clones. (I would use a fitting system that would allow you to swap head onto the same shaft.) I would use some kind of removable film to make the crowns look the same and hand each club to the person so that they aren't able to see the bottom of it. Each player will hit 3-5 balls with each driver and I will use an analyzer to measure performance. After hitting each club, the player will then be asked to give a personal assessment and assign a rating to the club. How do you think this would all shake out? Do you think the brand name clubs would come to the top? Would the clones populate the bottom spots?