A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the director of the Western New York chapter of First Tee. First Tee is an incredible program that I think most folks in the golf industry know about and respect their mission to “encourage and inspire positive values and healthy choices through the experience of golf”. As millennial aged founders of a golf ball/lifestyle company, Steve Coulton and I have been keen on involving ourselves with organizations like First Tee. As of this month, I’ve jumped head first into this and have already felt the reward of working with these kids.
It started with providing some golf balls for the groups of kids that are in the program which was a no brainer but I wanted more. I wanted to interact and create a bond with the kids as well. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving to meet some of the coaches and the groups of young First Tee participants is that it was a really diverse group, which I love. I immediately started to reflect on how powerful it was for me having an incredibly diverse group of friends growing up. I had friends of all races, religions and economic backgrounds. From an early age it opened my eyes to other cultures and helped me develop a perspective about the value of “being different” while I was growing up. To be honest, I think that exposure to people different than myself actually played a huge role in what would be the vision for OnCore.
After attending several classes, multiple high fives and fist bumps and a few goofy faced pictures with the kids, the First Tee organizers asked if I would come and talk to the kids about “following your dreams, perseverance and the story of OnCore”. The story of OnCore is much like the story of our world and I was happy to deliver a positive message to the kids through the story and experiences as a result of OnCore Golf.
I asked the kids if they thought that there were people who were afraid of others, simply because they were different from them. They said yes. I asked if they thought that people sometimes judged others based on the way they look or where they grew up or the religion they practiced. Again, they said yes. I asked if they thought they could learn a lot from someone who was different from them and has had different experiences growing up. They said yes. This is where the story of OnCore and the story of society tie together seamlessly.
The hollow metal core ball we have created through OnCore Golf was targeted and rejected based on it looking different than other golf balls. We were told that it would never be allowed before it was even tested. The game of golf went through a long time of exclusivity rather than inclusivity and only now is that starting to change. I tried to deliver the message that it is our differences that that make the world a beautiful place. We should seek out and celebrate the diversity in humanity and experiences just as we took pride in how different our golf ball was. To start a golf ball company by being the same as every other ball manufacturer would have been insanity. The reason that our golf ball was rejected – unique construction and performance – is the reason that OnCore Golf is now a golf ball brand being sold around the world in 21 countries and in all 50 states. It was OnCore’s perseverance and its willingness to be different which helped us overcome that rejection and eventually be accepted in the industry (and by the USGA). It is our differences that separate us from the rest and I hope that my message empowered these young minds to believe that the parts of them that are different are also the most beautiful and important and will help shape their perspective for the future. I asked the kids to promise me that they would seek out someone different from them every day and try to learn something from them. I wish that more adults in this country would promote that message because here at OnCore Golf we are not in the golf industry to build walls…we are here to build bridges and I am grateful to be doing anything I can to establish a stronger foundation upon which to build.