On Core Golf Balls
Teachers’ Comments: A straight distance ball. Interesting technology. Pricey.
After testing the OnCore metal core golf ball on several holes I came quickly to the conclusion that this falls squarely in the straight distance ball category. Tee shots with the ball were plenty long, relatively low, and right down the middle. The same for fairway metals and irons.
I just as quickly came to the conclusion that this is not a ball that will earn praise for spin or greenside manner. From known distances with the short irons, I found the balls hitting the greens and rolling right off the back.
But then, the OnCore doesn’t pretend to be a spin ball. What it does claim is that you’ll hit straighter, and by extension, longer shots.
The core of the OnCore is a hollow metal core that shifts the balls weight to the perimeter. As with golf clubs, increasing perimeter weight increases moment of inertia, resulting in reduced spin. Here’s a graphic on how their technology works:
This isn’t the first time a metal core has been tried. In the early 1900s, a variety of core materials were tried, including cork and various metals, including mercury. A patent was issued in 1975 for hollow steel core balls, including baseballs and softballs. Spalding had a patent for a ball with a metal core in 1997. I’m also certain that I’ve seen references to other hollow metal core models—perhaps from Intech? Whatever the precedents, the idea obviously didn’t catch on. OnCore, however, has the advantage of a couple of decades worth of materials science progress.
With everything in life there is an opportunity cost. In this case, to get the desired reduced spin off the tee, the opportunity cost is reduced spin elsewhere.
A thoughtful player, however, can compensate for this. When I realized that the OnCore was producing very little backspin, my solution was to try to land the ball well short and let it roll up. Instead of playing high flying wedges from 100 yards in, I played pitches. It worked pretty well, and I shot my lowest score of the year with the OnCore ball. Was it the ball? Or was it a function of the continuous improvement as I play deeper into the season? In limited testing, it is hard to tell.
My feeling is that for my game, using the OnCore ball was a wash. I may have gained shots by hitting more fairways, but probably gave them back around the green. I am not a wild hitter in any case, so I likely didn’t gain as much as some others. If you—like so many—lose shots on every hole because you spray the ball, you could consider the OnCore.
First, the OnCore feels hard to me. I don’t know what the compression is, but it puts me in mind of one of the old Rock-Flites or a Pinnacle distance ball. It feels fine off the putter, but with any other club, I found it borderline unpleasant.
Second, it is expensive: $39.99 a dozen. That’s Pro V1 territory. It is my feeling—as with another ball I reviewed a couple of weeks ago—that a new ball from a new company has to be heavily discounted to get people to give it a chance.
The bottom line is that if you lose a lot of shots offline, and you aren’t afraid of Pro V1 prices, you might want to give the OnCore a shot.