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Can balls of steel improve your golf game?

Power Pitch

A small start-up from Buffalo, N.Y., is taking a swing at bringing big changes to golf.

“We’re … optimizing the only piece of equipment you use in every single shot—the golf ball,” said OnCore Golf’s co-founder Steve Coulton.

Coulton and co-founder Bret Blakely claim their golf balls’ hollow metal core helps players of all levels shoot straighter.

“Golf’s a challenging game and we’ve got a product that we think will make it a little bit easier for the golfers out there and hacks like ourselves on the golf course,” said Coulton.

See OnCore’s co-founders deliver their 60 second Power Pitch.  Watch now to see if they have what it takes to score three “ins” from judges Charlie Rymer of Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” David Wu of venture capital firm Maveron and Dominic Chu of CNBC.
Putting the ball to the test

Golf balls are a $1.5 billion industry.  And while there have been innovations to the golf ball, such as dimple patterns, no one has attempted a hollow metal core—until now.
OnCore’s patented technology is a hollowed-out center, encased in steel, that is surrounded by a polymer layer. According to OnCore, its technology allows the energy from a club’s impact to transfer onto the ball’s perimeter more quickly. This allows for a straighter flight and less sidespin.  The start-up also claims its technology does not sacrifice distance or control.  In fact, the founders say the data shows their ball will give a 20-30 percent improvement in dispersion off the tee.

One way to understand the technology is to think about a figure skater spinning. As the weight of the skater shifts inward, the skater starts spinning faster. If the skater extends his or her arms or legs, the weight shifts outward, and the spinning slows.

On par?

OnCore faces some stiff competition. The United States Golf Association says more than 1,300 different balls from 73 companies were tested in 2013. Of those tested, less than 2 percent failed.  And heavyweights like Titleist, Spalding, Maxfli, Nike (NKE) and Callaway (ELY) have huge name recognition, in large part, because they have sponsorship deals with pro golfers.

Blakely and Coulton say word of mouth is OnCore’s sweet spot. “We know that if our product doesn’t do what it says, then the average golfers aren’t going to get behind it. And that’s a person that I would believe over somebody that I know is getting paid $10 million to talk about the product,” said Blakely.

Driving new players to the game

Rymer asked if OnCore’s technology could attract new players.

“At the end of the day golf is a game, and that’s often overlooked because we’re so caught up in our score and the frustrations that a challenging game brings us,” said Coulton.  “If you can have a little bit more fun out there and shoot a lower score it’s going to bring people into the game and keep people whootherwise would get frustrated and leave.”

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Customers can purchase OnCore products directly from the website. But Coulton and Blakely say they have a deal in place with Amazon (AMZN) set to launch in May, as well as other deals that will help the start-up go to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa.  They also have plans to enter the pro-shop market this year.

Founded in 2009, OnCore Golf has raised $1.4 million from InVentures Group, Angel Capital Group and crowdfunding. OnCore’s co-founders project the company will be profitable by the fourth quarter of 2014.
See Bret Blakely and Steve Coulton power pitch their start-up, OnCore Golf, to panelists Charlie Rymer of Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” David Wu of Maveron and Dominic Chu of CNBC.

-Additional Reporting by Joanna Weinstein and Kelly Lin

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