OnCore Golf To Open $30 Million Sports Entertainment Complex In Buffalo, With More In Planning

OnCore Golf is the latest entrant into the ever-expanding golf-entertainment arena. The eight-year-old golf ball technology company revealed plans to build a $30 million sports and entertainment facility along the Buffalo River in its hometown of Buffalo, New York.

OnCore Buffalo will have similarities to the popular Topgolf venues: a three-tiered driving range designed for golfers and non-golfers alike, a bar area and various entertainment options. It will also incorporate other sports experiences – from virtual baseball, basketball and hockey to a possible indoor wave machine for surfing – intended to attract participation from a wide range of consumers.

“We’re very excited to be able to bring this kind of golf and sports entertainment experience to an urban setting – the result of engineering and technology innovations that have been years in the making,” said OnCore Golf co-founder Keith Blakely. “In doing so, we hope to elevate interest in golf amongst a broad demographic and to enable partnerships with organizations with similar goals.”

Built on a seven-acre property on Kelly Island, the Buffalo facility will feature a total of 72 hitting bays outfitted with OnCore-specific radar and camera technology that’s similar to Trackman. A 120- to 160-room hotel is also part of the project, with the hotel rooms set to be built above the three tiers of hitting bays, as will dedicated event, banquet and meeting space.

For golf enthusiasts, each hitting bay will provide comprehensive data – both ball and club – including swing speed, ball speed, smash factor, distance, spin rate, launch angle, apex and more. Customers will also have the option of recording their swing and receiving instructional advice in real time, with all information saved and available for retrieval and review on mobile devices and a cloud-based website.

The range itself is elevated, a proprietary design that features targets at distances ranging from 50 to 170 yards. The back wall of the range has 250-yard targets. Customers will be able to play a variety of games, some competitive and others purely for enjoyment, that will be shown on the high-resolution monitors that are in each bay. There will be extensive food and beverage options throughout the facility, including service at the hitting bays. 

OnCore is known for its innovation in the golf world. In 2013, the company made waves by creating the first and only USGA-conforming hollow-metal-core ball. It developed plans for a Genius Ball with embedded GPS and shot-tracking technology (set for a 2020 launch) and has built a loyal following and garnered industry awards for its golf balls, including the ELIXR, AVANT and Caliber.

But OnCore Buffalo won’t be all about golf.

There are alternatives for younger kids or those who might not hit the ball as well, including using augmented reality glasses and a hand-held “phaser” to shoot golf balls at targets – from Aliens to Pokemon characters — that seem to appear on the range.

Additional augmented and mixed-reality sports and activities will take place in separate simulator bays, with visitors able to throw balls at virtual batters, shoot basketballs through virtual hoops, take slapshots at virtual goaltenders, or shoot arrows at virtual targets. Other add-ons under consideration include skateboarding, a ski-training simulator and the wave machine for indoor surfing.

In an effort to encourage and expand golf participation among juniors, the headquarters of the First Tee of Western New York will eventually be brought into the facility at no cost. In total, the clubhouse for the OnCore Buffalo facility will be about 120,000 square feet.

OnCore Buffalo is planned to be built on a brownfield, so there is remediation work to be done before construction can begin midway through 2020. The facility is expected to open in mid-2021.

Urban sites for other OnCore sports entertainment facilities are being targeted, among them Knoxville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; Las Vegas; Phoenix; New York; Denver; and Washington. Because the physical footprint is smaller than similar competitors – it’s just over half the size of a typical 13-acre Topgolf facility, for example – the company is looking at city settings where they’re more accessible to a diverse customer base and where corporate and private events can be scheduled more conveniently during normal business hours.

“We feel that this facility is going to be one of a kind and a revolutionary standard going forward,” Blakely said. “It allows us to build in urban centers rather than far outside city centers.”

Four to five more similar facilities could start development in the next few years, but Buffalo is the first step, and a natural fit as OnCore’s hometown.

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OnCore Golf: Father and Son Entrepreneurs Drive Company that Started With Hollow Metal-Core Ball

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