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Volvik Featured on Front Cover of Fore Georgia Magazine

Volvik bringing personality to golf

Color balls making big splash in market

By Mike Blum

Fore Georgia Magazine

 

Bright colors have long been associated with golf, with the advent of color television bringing the verdant green of Augusta National and the pastels of Georgia native Doug Sanders into the homes of golf fans across the country.

Modern golf fans have become accustomed to Bubba Watson’s pink driver, Rickie Fowler’s orange outfits and Ian Poulter’s blue shoes. But after a brief splash in the 1980s when orange golf balls enjoyed their 15 minutes of modest visibility, the golf ball has overwhelmingly remained white.

The lone high profile exception was the pink golf ball of Paula Creamer, an aspect of her “Pink Panther” persona that is more about branding her and not promoting a particular product.

In recent months, however, regular viewers of LPGA tournaments on Golf Channel have noticed a growing number of tour members playing balls of various colors, mostly orange and yellow with the occasional pink and even a green or two.

The company behind the expansion of color golf balls on the LPGA Tour is Volvik, which is hoping to repeat the success in the U.S. that it has enjoyed in Asian markets.  

Volvik is making a big push to bring some color to the U.S. golf ball market, and its initial efforts have been promising.

The company has been manufacturing golf balls for 30 years, but was not introduced to the American market until this year’s PGA Merchandise Show. Thanks to the success of its color balls, Volvik has risen to second in sales in Korea and fourth in Japan.

Volvik has 37 international golf ball patents, many of them stemming from its new Vista iV, a 4-piece dual core ball with a soft outer layer and hard inner core that has made Volvik a player in the high-performance ball market.

The visibility of Volvik has been raised by ads on Golf Channel, but the company is also making an impact at the state and local level with its involvement with tournaments like the Georgia Women’s Open. Volvik has signed on as title of the 2013 event, which will be played this month at Roswell’s Brookfield Country Club.

The recent impact Volvik has had on the golf ball market goes beyond the distinctive colors that have become increasingly popular on the LPGA Tour.

“We are making golf balls fun and bringing personality back to the golf ball.” Volvik National Director of Sales and Marketing Jon Claffey says. “But we are doing it a little differently in that the balls we make are very high quality.

“We manufacture our balls differently and we spend more money on our materials. We do this to make sure we have top-shelf performance. There’s no way we could have 20 LPGA players using our colorful balls if we didn’t have one of the best out there.”

Among the players competing with Volvik color balls is Ilhee Lee, who won the LPGA’s recent tournament in the Bahamas. Lee, Pornanong Phatlum and Chella Choi are all ranked among the top 25 on the money list, with four others (Jee Young Lee, Lindsey Wright, Jeong Jang and Meena Lee) among the top 70.

“If you feel like been you’ve seeing Volvik all over the LPGA Tour coverage, you are not mistaken.” Claffey says. “We have been very fortunate to have our staff players performing extremely well this year with our highly visible golf balls. Every week it seems to be someone different stepping into the limelight.”

Volvik is looking to expand its tour reach beyond the LPGA. Web.com Tour member Erik Flores, a three-time All-American at UCLA, is playing the Orange Vista iV four-piece ball. Flores recorded a top 20 finish in the Web.com tournament in Greenville, S.C., and scored a hole-in-one in the tour’s recent stop in Raleigh, N.C., carding a 65 for the day.

The plan for Volvik is to have three to five Web.com Tour staffers by next year.

“We are here to break two misconceptions,” Claffey points out. “One is that color golf balls are not high performance. We have three-piece and four-piece golf balls that have beaten the best of the best in distance and spin time and time again in independent Iron Byron tests.

“The number two misconception is that the color golf balls are only for women. Color is the future of golf and we are at the forefront of the color revolution.”

Volvik’s collection of color balls includes four that each serves a different group.

The new four-piece Vista iV features a soft feel and longer distance with its patented dual core with a soft outer layer and hard inner core. The 95-compression ball has an excellent putting feel and optimal spin rates. The Vista iV is Volvik’s premier ball.

The Volvik Crystal is a premium level three-piece ball with an 80 compression and is designed for golfers with swing speeds between 60 and 95 mph. It is the evolution of the original Crystal ball that revolutionized the color golf ball market, providing distance with a hyper soft feel.

The Volvik Lady 350 is a high performance, premium level three-piece ball designed for female golfers seeking longer distance and a soft feel. The 80 compression ball with light weight feel enables women to play more accurately with greater spin control.

The Volvik Pro Bismuth is a premium level, three-piece ball designed for advanced golfers with higher swing speeds, with its design and materials providing explosive distance. Unlike Volvik’s other balls, the Bismuth is available in white.

Claffey stresses that Volvik offers more than just a colorful product.

“Performance is leading the way. That’s what you need to do in this market,” he says. “We feel we have something entirely different, regardless of color. We make the golf ball a little differently.

“Everybody else has a soft inner core and a harder outer core. But our harder inner core has a better energy transfer, and the very soft cover is what allows us to have different colors.”

The most popular of the bright Volvik colors are orange and yellow, followed by green and pink. Volvik’s green offers sufficient contrast with golf’s playing surfaces to keep it from blending into fairways or putting surfaces.

In addition to the bringing a little more personality to the game, Volvik’s color balls have the advantage of offering better visibility while in flight for those who have difficulty following the ball once it is hit.

After the brief splash of orange balls in the 1980s, color was almost totally absent from the golf ball business until Volvik’s recent surge, which has been aided by its sizeable roster of professional players using the ball on tour.

“We’ve seen an absolute market shift,” Claffey says. “With all the different competitors in tournaments, we have the color ball showing up on the LPGA Tour. The average golfer thinks, ‘If the pros do it, I can do it’.”

Claffey believes color is the wave of the future in golf, not just in golf balls.

“Color has been a part of golf, and the younger generation is more open to it.

“This is a long term proposition, and we’re not going anywhere. We’re here for the long term.”

Volvik is doing more than just promoting its product through nationally televised broadcasts. The company will have a presence at the Georgia Women’s Open in an effort to introduce its color balls to those playing in the tournament, as well as those who are there to support a friend or family member, or simply as a spectator.