American Golf is bringing industry experts together to launch a new initiative to combat golf club theft, which costs the golf industry more than £10 million a year.
The new initiative, called Immobigolf, calls on golfers to register their golf clubs for free on a national database. This database is already be used by the police to return stolen goods, but will also allow retailers and traders to track the entire ownership history of any golf club, quickly identifying stolen and counterfeit products. If the scheme is adopted industry-wide, there will be a simple check that will mean that there will be nowhere to sell stolen goods.
Immobigolf has come about thanks to co-operation between a number of businesses, all of whom were being affected by the staggering increase in golf club crime. John Mantle, National Loss Prevention Manager at American Golf, who was tasked to find ways to limit the impact of theft on the company and its staff, explained how the collaboration came to be. He said: “In 2019, American Golf suffered an unprecedented amount of organised crime, which was having a serious effect on colleague morale as well as the loss to our business. We met with Golfclubs4cash and Immobilise and between us we identified a solution that would tackle crime from the bottom up. With the help of our partners, including Golf Care insurance, we hope that we can reach a situation where all golfers are using this free system to protect their clubs.”
Although every single golf club has a unique manufacturer’s serial number on its hosel, it is practically impossible for police to return stolen goods because these identifier numbers are rarely registered to an owner. However, once these numbers are logged on the Immobilise website, traders, retailers and the police will be able to track the golf club’s entire ownership history proving categorically whether the club is stolen. If a stolen golf club is recovered by police then repatriation is straight forward and, if stolen items can’t be located, the insurance company and golfer have an easy way to activate the insurance claims process.
With American Golf, part of the initial set up, the Immobigolf initiative will have an immediate positive effect on the golf market. But for the system to work most effectively, the more golfers, golf clubs and retailers who get involved, the better, as Les Gray, from Recipero the company that operates Immobilise, explained. He said: “It is easy for all members of the industry to get involved. Golf clubs and retailers simply promote registration, which is entirely free of charge for them and their customers. Traders and insurers can then use Recipero’s CheckMEND and ClaimsCheck products to ensure due-diligence for every transaction. This reduces their risk, ultimately prevents crime and will be to the benefit of every golfer. Simply put, if the entire golf community gets behind this initiative then stolen golf clubs will become too hot for criminals to handle.“
Protection for the golfer is the driving force behind the decision to bring Immobigolf to life, as Murray Winton of Golfclubs4cash explained. He said: “Golfclubs4cash are very excited for the launch of the Immobigolf product. Being able to use Recipero’s CheckMEND software to check and verify the source of our products will add great credibility to our business. We are seen by thieves as an easy target to sell stolen merchandise to. Using this software potentially puts an end to that. The software also helps install crucial customer confidence as they know the golf clubs they’ve bought from us have been checked and come from a reputable source.”
For just £14.99 golfers can also buy an Immobigolf pack at American Golf that will give them the means to show potential thieves that their products are protected. The pack includes identifier labels for golf clubs and bright deterrent markers that can be placed in car windows and on a golf bag. The hope is that when the initiative gains nationwide recognition, golf club owners will also be able to advertise that as supporters of the initiative, their members are covered deterring potential thefts from their venues.
Mantle concluded: “American Golf, Golf Care, Golfclubs4cash and Immobilise hope that in the future all golf clubs are logged with Immobigolf. We want the whole industry to get behind the initiative whether they are manufacturers, retailers, traders, golf clubs or committees. By working together, we have the power to help stop crime affecting those it hurts the most – the golfer.”
Any retailers, golf clubs or PGA Professionals wishing to be part of the Immobigolf initiative should email firstname.lastname@example.org and a representative will get in touch to take them through the set-up process.