The 1954 golf team at Santa Barbara High School was good. The “High Dons” won the California Independent School Federation team golf championship that year but, to be honest, no one had the sense that there were any standouts – in golf or any other endeavor for that matter – playing on that team. But, as fate would have it, there was not only one but two individuals playing on that golf team who would go on to make their mark on the world – in ways that would make their names eponymous with their individual success.
In the world of golf, it was Allen Geiberger, “Mr. 59”, whose performance at the 1977 Danny Thomas St. Jude Classic PGA event in Memphis would ink his name indelibly into the record books as the first PGA professional to ever record a score below 60 in tournament play. The round – on Friday that year – was an incredible accomplishment but was just a part of the full story, as Al faced an incredible challenge from South African phenom Gary Player that week, trailing Player by two strokes with only the back nine left on Sunday but was able, through a combination of grit, determination, and attitude, to end the weekend with a never-before-seen score card and a tour victory. Geiberger remained a force in the game throughout his career with a PGA Championship and as the winner of 11 PGA tournaments before moving onto the Champions Tour where he notched ten more wins.
But there was a second Santa Barbara HS alum that would have a similar seismic effect – this time on the world of finance. A young man named Charles Schwab redefined the way that brokerage firms did business with their customers and Wall Street and, much like Mr. 59 had in golf, Schwab set a new bar for performance in the world of stock trading and financial services.
The passion that these two gentlemen shared for golf was not their only link. In fact, Allen and Chuck were best friends in high school, remained so throughout their adult careers, and stayed in regular contact as their career paths diverged. And earlier this year, that relationship initiated a series of events that has forged another bond – and ignited a new partnership that both believe could have far-reaching impact in the world of golf.
In March of this year, the pair played golf at Bighorn in California and after the front nine, Chuck noticed the unusual logo on Allen’s golf ball. “What’s that you’re playing?” he asked and Al responded simply, “Oh that’s the OnCore ball. I’ve never played anything quite like it.” He offered a sleeve of the OnCore ELIXR to Schwab who played the back nine with it and was immediately impressed. “I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but my drives seemed longer, I was hitting more fairways, and I absolutely loved how it performed around the greens.” Shortly after heading back to San Francisco, he texted Allen saying “Thanks for introducing me to the ELIXR. I just went on Amazon and bought 12 dozen!”
Al had been introduced to the OnCore ball by his son John a year earlier when the company launched it following years of intense product development. John, who had been the golf coach at Pepperdine University and in 1997 led the team to a NCAA championship at only 29 years of age, had been a fan of the company, its emphasis on technology and bringing unique and patented designs to the golf ball industry, felt the ball was an incredible new entrant and wanted his dad to test it. “I remember him calling me up after playing several rounds with the ELIXR and saying that it had everything – distance, control, accuracy, and feel. He truly felt like it was the best ball he’d ever played and wanted to know how he could help get the word out,” John recalls. “So he began giving it to friends, fellow golfers, playing it at the Legends of Golf in 2017 where he and Butch Baird finished in 2nd place – one stroke ahead of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.”
So it was no surprise that a year later, Mr. 59 was still handing out the ball that he had come to love and remained convinced was without peer. Schwab apparently agreed and a few months later, when they played together again at Stone Eagle, he asked Al and John how he could help this relatively unknown company take things to a new level. That began a series of emails, phone calls, and ultimately a face to face meeting between Chuck Schwab, the Chairman of one of the country’s leading banks a brokerage firms, and Keith Blakely, Chairman and CEO of a disruptive golf ball company whose size is somewhat smaller!
Schwab is known – in life and in business – as an innovator. His was one of the first brokerage firms to embrace the internet, employ automation to minimize transaction costs, and offer customers a real alternative to the well-established Wall Street behemoths that had dominated the industry for decades
“It was an honor to be able to present OnCore’s story to Chuck, and his level of engagement and interest in seeing how he could help the company advance was incredible,” said Blakely. “In a very short time, it became clear that we shared the same philosophical approach to business – keeping our customers at the center of everything we do, delivering the highest quality products and services, and always working hard to lead, not follow, through constant innovation.”
Schwab and Mr. 59 are now not just fans and customers of OnCore, they’ve joined forces and become shareholders, each bringing resources to this upstart company to put it on a trajectory that they believe will have a long-term impact on the game and those who play it.
Al Geiberger added: “If I’d had the OnCore ELIXR in ’77, who knows what my nickname might be today – Mr. 58? Mr. 57? I’ll never know but I do know that I’m excited to be working with the great team at OnCore Golf and to be partnered with my friend and golf partner, Chuck Schwab, to bring the best balls to players everywhere.”