OnCore made news in 2017 with the release of Elixr, its ball for expert players. In its brief existence, the Buffalo company has sat still for zero minutes, always pushing the limits of its R&D, its marketing, and its product. In addition to clothing and golf bags, the company took the extraordinary step of announcing the Genius Ball, essentially a smart golf ball with massive feedback for the golfer. Well, let’s let Bret Blakely, vice-president and co-founder, take over and walks us through the ball with a brain.
Walk us through the OnCore golf ball timeline, bringing us to the present.
OnCore entered the golf ball market 6 years ago (2011) by introducing our patented hollow metal core technology in our first ball, called the Omen. It took a two year battle with the USGA to get that technology on the USGA conforming list and we did so in historic fashion by actually being the catalyst for the USGA to rewrite the rules governing golf ball construction for only the second time in 100 years. The Hollow metal core ball went through several optimizations and iterations and is now known as the Caliber. We knew, however, that many golfers were looking for lower compression (softer) golf balls and so we had our technical team hard at work in 2015 to create something for those golfers. Their efforts resulted in a new core composition which we call SoftCell and at the PGA show in 2016, we introduced the highest performance two piece golf ball – the Avant. With a 65 compression, exceptional distance and accuracy, the Avant generated a tremendous amount of interest and demonstrated that OnCore wasn’t a “one trick pony”. But, our crowning achievement to date is our first tour ball – the ELIXR – which we launched in March this year. The ELIXR has caught absolute fire amongst amateurs, reviewers and tour players. We even had players on tour switch mid season because the performance of the ball is just that good. It was even recognized by Golf Digest winning a Hot List of 2017 award. Next up for 2018…the GENiUS ball.
The Genius Ball is far outside the scope of what any other company has made. Who gets the credit/blame for coming up with this idea?
There are a handful of reasons we decided to bring something like this to market. Golfers themselves are a huge reason as you will always see in golf discussions that they wish they had a way to find their golf balls instead of wasting time looking for them in the woods or rough. We also have some incredible minds as part of the OnCore team and one of them, Robert Samuels has really spearheaded the R&D of this game changing innovation. We also know that the data and real time analytics is something that every golfer and every teaching pro will just go crazy over.
Did you make additional hires to help develop Genius Ball?
We brought in a team of scientists and engineers that have been dedicated to this project although they are not all permanent hires. It is a robust team with a lot of brain power behind it and they are the secret sauce to bringing this to life.
What about golfers convinced you that a Genius Ball is needed, and how will they benefit from it?
The interest for this has been shown by the simple fact that golfers go to indoor facilities to hit a ball against a screen to gain that data and understanding of their game. Most would love to be able to do it themselves and not have to buy a simulator or Trackman – tools that very few but the most affluent golfers can afford. Now we can give them the same data but to a much more accurate degree because they are doing it out on the course in real conditions. Golf is also such a competitive sport that for players to be able to compete on a laundry list of performance metrics rather than just the score at the end of the hole or the round makes things really intriguing.
What misconception might people have about the Genius Ball?
The misconception may be that this is meant to be the best ball from a performance standpoint that we have to offer. The best ball we offer is the ELIXR. The GENiUS ball is meant to be a great ball that is similar to other high performance golf balls that most golfers will be used to but this ball is all about the data and the fun golfers can have now in getting that data. It is not meant to be a ball that is for every day play but rather a data aggragating monster that will help everyone learn how to be their best on the course.
What aspect of crowdfunding convinced you to develop the IndieGoGo campaign?
We like the fact that it exposes a tremendous amount of people to the OnCore brand and allows us to get other products of ours into their hands as rewards for their support of our campaign.
Do you expect the Genius Ball to be USGA-conforming, or will it be more of a practice tool?
The ball itself, outside of the electronics will be conforming but when you add the electronics, we do not expect the USGA to allow that. But again, this is not meant to take the place of our performance balls. This is meant to help teachers and data-hungry golfers to be their best to be able to get the most out of their skill set when they play with our other balls.
How can you ensure that the continued development and promotion of Elixr will not suffer, with all the attention centered on the Genius Ball project?
We are lucky that there has been a lot of word of mouth that has continued gaining traction on the ELIXR. We will also not stop promoting the ELIXR. It is just about creating a healthy balance of messaging and creating awareness of both innovations.
What question would you like to answer now, and not wait for the media to ask? Ask it and answer it, please.
When will the GENiUS ball be available? We are shooting for a launch in spring/summer 2018. The amount we are able to gather through our crowdfunding will only allow us to bring that launch date up sooner….so please support us at www.geniusball.com to help us bring the GENiUS ball to a course near you!
Thank you for your time.