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To: john who wrote (29)11/5/1999 11:19:00 AM
From: CIMA  Read Replies (2) of 67

Buying and selling golf clubs on the Internet is fast becoming an extremely convenient, money-saving method of transaction.

November 4, 1999

The Orange County Register

There was a certain amount of trepidation when Annie Mitchell bought clubs on the Internet nearly two years ago.

The Lake Forest resident liked the set of Lady Cobra woods she found on a Web site where individuals auction off golf clubs and she had talked to coworkers about them.

She was still hesitant, though, to buy clubs from another individual.

"I knew it was a good brand and something I wanted," Mitchell said. "But the guy was in Massachusetts, and I was sending $150 to someone I didn't know."

So Mitchell, a crime analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, had the clubs sent to her at work.

"I figured if they saw the address I might have a better chance of getting them," Mitchell said, laughing. "I don't know if it did, but I got the clubs. It worked out great. I buy lots of things now on the Internet."

Mitchell is among a growing number of golfers surfing the Web for new and used clubs, putting aside any fears of cyberspace shopping in exchange for convenience and better deals.

That was the philosophy of, an Internet superstore that sells golf clubs on the Web.

Based in Laguna Beach, the company was started by Brad Allen, who thought of the idea several years ago while working in the banking industry in Hong Kong. When Allen returned to the United States, he set up a Web site to offer golfers new clubs at reduced prices.

"I saw the Internet taking off," said Allen, the president and chief executive officer. "I looked at the demographics with the golf and the Internet and knew it would work."

Pete Grant certainly has reaped the benefits. The Huntington Beach resident bought a 3-wood, putter and sand wedge on separate occassions through an Internet site.

"I went to a golf store and checked clubs out and tried them out," Grant said. "Then I found it on the Internet cheaper."

Grant said he was expecting to sacrifice customer service for price but was pleased with his purchases.

"I am left-handed and tall, so finding clubs is tough," Grant said. "The return policy is really good."

Traditional golf stores are aware of the benefits of the Internet sites and are offering customers alternatives.

"If someone brings it to our attention that a club is cheaper, then we'll check it out and if it is legitimate, we'll match it," said Steve Carfagno, manager of Roger Dunn Golf Shop in Santa Ana. "We've been hearing for years that the Internet is going to take over, but we haven't seen it yet."

The Internet also has become popular for golfers interested in used golf clubs.

Internet Golf Association Inc., an extensive Web site devoted to golf that is based in Dana Point, is setting up an on-line auction link on its site so golfers can buy used clubs, as well as manufacturers' close out models.

"We're going to approach it from a different perspective," said Vince Castagnola, president and chief executive officer of IGA. "We are seeking out manufacturers and stores that have used clubs, and they can sell them through our site. In addition, if golfers want a club and it's not there, we will E-mail you once we get it."

Mike Schober has used a similar site to buy and sell used clubs and likes the convenience.

"I play custom clubs and needed a sand wedge," said Schober, who lives in Aliso Viejo. "I looked around in the stores and couldn't find one. I got on the Internet and found it."

The Internet also has helped Schober sell some of his unwanted clubs, including a set of irons.

"I'm a golf nut and like to buy the latest thing," Schober said. "I buy it and if I don't like it I put it up for sale."

Schober said he takes precautions with those he sells to. "I go to the post office and have it sent COD," Schober said. "They have to give me a money order, so I am pretty protected. Nobody's gypt me yet."

Safety is a concern for some buyers, but Grant said he is confident in the steps taken by Web sites to protect credit cards.

"Most of the sites are secured," said Grant, who has bought other items on the net, including computer parts and clothes. "I've never felt uneasy using my credit card."

Mitchell agrees.

"I really enjoy buying on the Internet," Mitchell said. "It is a lot more convenient than the stores."

Even though he is in competition with stores, Allen doesn't believe they will all go out of business.

"I classify buying golf clubs as a passion category," Allen said. "I don't think e-commerce will replace stores. I think it's going to be a healthy progression. The weaker ones, both stores and internet, will go away."

#1 newspaper in Orange County, California

Copyright 1999 The Orange County Register
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