Since the introduction of its original metal hollow core ball in 2012, Buffalo, N.Y.-based OnCore Golf has come a long way in a short time. OnCore Golf has introduced two more golf balls, both of which are growing exponentially. And later this year, the company will introduce a golf ball that's technologically advanced beyond imagination.
OnCore Golf is currently achieving great success with two different balls. The Avant ball, a low compression two-piece golf ball introduced a couple of years ago, has been difficult to keep in stock the demand has been so high. It has a surlyn cover that competes with the market's mid-priced balls. A newer lower compression ball that performs even better – called the Avant 55 – is already in production and will begin shipping soon.
The other more recent introduction is the ELIXR, a three-piece ball with an "enhanced” perimeter weighted design and super durable urethane cover designed to compete with the best "tour" balls on the market.
But unlike some other start-up golf ball companies that have come and gone, OnCore Golf isn't just designing golf balls that are similar to what's already on the market; it has new technology they claim outperforms many of the established brands.
More specifically, borrowing from the concept of its original ball (the Caliber), both the Avant and the ELIXR fly straighter than their competition.
"It's just physics, plain and simple," said Bret Blakely, who co-founded OnCore Golf with partner Steve Coulton.
Construction and perimeter weighting of Oncore Golf's ELIXR ball
Referencing the ELIXR, Blakely said that both independent and player testing has shown that it is arguably the straightest ball on the market, particularly noticeable in windy conditions where the ball’s highly desirable spin characteristics deliver an incredibly stable trajectory.
"That's something we're definitely not surprised about because of the high perimeter weighting in the ELIXR. This was the original concept that the hollow metal core (hence the company's namesake) was designed to deliver when we brought that ball concept out," Blakely said. "We've essentially been able to recreate that without there being a hollow core or a steel core in there."
The ELIXR has more going for it, too. It has a very low spin rate off the driver. It's also longer than many other balls in its class, depending on a golfer's swing speed, loft angle, and other factors, said Blakely. And it is hot off the tee. In fact, the company received a letter warning it that the ELIXR is less than .2 percent away from being over the USGA limit on initial velocity.
"But it is conforming," Blakely said. "It's a very hot ball, a very fast ball."
It wasn't the first time that OnCore has caught the attention of the USGA. OnCore's first ball was initially deemed to be non-conforming. OnCore appealed that determination and ultimately prevailed after the USGA altered its rules on the allowable exceptions for “traditional and customary” golf ball construction; a rule change that would make OnCore’s MA-1.0 (now the Caliber) USGA conforming.
And it was the original concept of hollow core technology and the attention it got that has led the company to attract two of the industry's best golf ball engineers to develop the latest products for OnCore Golf.
The price is right
The ELIXR and Avant balls are also very affordable, which is one of the ways you get consumers to switch. With retail prices on the ELIXR at $35 and the Avant around $20, it makes both balls immediately competitive, especially when you consider their performance. And over the last couple of years, consumers are certainly starting to pick up on that.
And most of this has happened through word of mouth before the company recently embarked on a national ad campaign.
In 2017, the company's sales were almost six times what they were the year before, thanks in large part to the success of the Avant and the introduction of the ELIXR. So far, this year, OnCore Golf has enjoyed growth between 50 percent and 90 percent each month over the same month in 2017.
The balls are sold through a number of channels. One is through direct marketing through the company's website, OnCoreGolf.com (which features a consumer loyalty savings program). You can also find OnCore golf balls at many specialty retailers, and soon at 23 Dick's Sporting Goods locations in the Northeast, Florida, Southwest, Arizona and California.
Right now, Revolution Golf is offering a special on the ELIXR: $32 for a dozen or $162 for six-dozen balls.
Representing at the highest level
OnCore golf balls have been tested both robotically and by tour players. Blakely said the tour-level players' feedback has been very positive, but so far, OnCore isn't represented by anyone on the PGA Tour. That's expensive.
"There is no one product that's so above the others that PGA Tour players would switch to it for free," Blakely said. "If it was, it would probably be illegal!"
But the company has partnered with the LPGA Tour and has players on the Web.com and Symetra Tour playing the ELIXR, including Michael Hebert (Web.com) and trick-shot artist Tania Tare, who has won on the lower levels and has high hopes for the LPGA Tour.
Oncore Pro @@MichaelHebertAU jumped up 18 spots, to #53, in the @WebDotComTour rankings with his T15 finish at the Savannah Championship. Trending the right way on his journey to The top 25, way to go Mike! #TeamOnCore #WebDotComTour pic.twitter.com/dHW8I6wveu— OnCore Golf (@OnCoreGolf) April 12, 2018
OnCore Golf is looking to take that next step soon, though, Blakely said.
"This year, we feel like we're ready to go to that next level, and we want to target one or two really well-known PGA Tour players," he said. "Someone who can really be the face of the brand, who maybe has a reputation for being different, going against the grain, which we feel is representative of what we do as a company."
In addition, OnCore is set to introduce its Genius Ball in the second half of 2018. This is a ball unlike anything on the market.
The ball contains what amounts to a microcomputer inside of it, capable of transmitting all kinds of information back to a smart phone, including its location after you hit it. The possibilities are endless, allowing golfers to have access to all kinds of data in real time while playing a round of golf. And as the technology continues to develop, the genius part of the ball can be made smaller and smaller, allowing the ball to feel more like a performance ball.
"This is really exciting," Blakely said. "Imagine the different gaming experiences this ball can create. And it's going to be a whole new way people can learn about their game and the way the game can be taught."