A Day with Ernest Sports and the New ES16

It started with an idea. The thought that golfers were looking for more, and by surrounding himself with incredibly gifted and intelligent people that he could bring it to them. First came the research, then came the execution, and finally the products began to flow. Now golfers are on the brink of a device that might be the first of its kind.

Upon entering the offices at Ernest Sports, you are greeted with a comfortable environment that screams golf paradise. Between the pictures hanging on the wall and the simulator bays that the company is assembling as this is being published, it is exactly what every golfer would want their “man cave” to look like. As I entered the lobby, Joe Ernest pops out and invites me back to his office to “have a chat” while the rest are finishing up with other tasks, but gives me the warning that he is finishing up a sandwich.

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Joe Ernest, he is the type of person you could talk to and share stories with for hours. We talked about his previous ventures, which tells the story of an entrepreneur that found his path multiple times and most recently after selling his previous company, to Birch Communications back in 2013. When the topic shifts to golf and how Ernest Sports began, the smile gracefully takes over his face and quietly he says “I love this game and knew we could create something for golfers”.

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The research took time, and to this day has not stopped with engineers in both the building and through his relationships at Georgia Tech. They first came out with a doppler powered consumer friendly device called the ES12 , followed up with a dual doppler device called the ES14, and had tremendous success as players of all skill levels have become adopters. This is when the story gets rather interesting for the golfers out there that love full data and technology.

As we sat in his office having a conversation, Ernest said that the learning curve internally, and the wants and needs of golfers, have all led to the ES16. A device that is combining the two technologies that are so often discussed in fitting and data tracking accuracy with doppler and high speed cameras. The ES16 begins to ship in the coming weeks and in speaking with their sales force, the pre-orders sold faster than they expected. However, that is not the big story here, instead the story is about a brand and what they are working to build.

As a company, they are one of the few launch monitor brands that is US based. In fact, as Ernest put it, “Not a single device leaves or will leave without us testing it personally in the back” (which I witnessed later in the day). If there is a problem with a unit, it does not have to go overseas to be fixed, but right back to Norcross, GA and the company will overnight you a unit as they diagnose. It’s a technology device, so there will be issues that come up. That is part of an early adoption into any launch monitor, let alone one that will be equipped with both cameras and radar, however based on experience in ownership of multiple brands, most issues are software related.

By this time Joe was beaming about his new ES16 and we walked out of his office towards the back area where testing and setup was taking place. His excitement is infectious, and with each employee we met and discussed the brand with, you come to the realization that it is not just Joe Ernest that is enthusiastic, but the entire operation. They believe that in time, this device will be as accurate as anything on the market because of what is measures and how.

Is that true? Hard to tell as of now, but in the early testing I witnessed at their office, everything seemed as accurate as other devices we have tested, use and owned. Right now the team is hard at work finalizing some software tweaks to make the device ready for the coming weeks, and while I only witnessed a dozen or so swings from multiple people there, with each impact of the ball, the data I saw said they are headed in the right direction.

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While touring their facility I saw golfers testing out the new ES16 device, and others testing multiple ES14 models that have been purchased and are ready to ship. Also, quite visible is some signage that sits next to an inviting couch about their ES15 model which I still believe every driving range in America should have in their bays. Then with a glance behind me, Joe Ernest is standing there and I ask him point blank “Is this going to be as accurate as the other higher priced devices on the market?” and with a look at the screen showing the data and a quick glance back to me he responded, “Josh, we believe it will be and our testing says it will”.

After several hours with us, Joe Ernest excused himself to an appointment and the day finished up with the rest of the crew. The message is very clear, their goals and philosophy are different than a lot of technology companies of today. If you call, you get a voice, not some automated system or voice mail and when asked what happens when they grow and the phones are ringing more and more, the answer was simple. “We hire more voices to be part of the team”. That sentence says a lot about the culture inside the glass doors of this office, and a lot about what they are trying to achieve. In a day and age where sending a tweet often gets a faster response than a phone call to customer service, Ernest Sports is bucking that trend a bit, despite being a technology company that is poised to make a solid run for the future.

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Upon walking out of the doors, I sat down in the rental car and collected my thoughts before heading to the airport. In a sort of throw back way, I was looking at Ernest Sports like a good book.

Chapter 1 was the idea.
Chapter 2 was the research
Chapter 3 was the ES12
Chapter 4 was the ES14
Chapter 5 was the ES15
Chapter 6 is the ES16

Right about now you realize that you have not put it down yet and are wondering what is coming next. After spending some time there, I don’t know what the answer is, other than to say commitment. They are committed to making sure their devices are the best they can be and believe it with everything inside of those walls. Will the ES16 change the game for the industry? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t bet against Joe Ernest or the people there, and firmly believe that with their current launch and some firmware updates that always come with technology, they will have a device that pleases a lot of people.

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35 Comments

  • I love hearing how a company actually cares about its customers. Now my wallet may not be smiling in the future though lol

  • Great read JB! The ES14 was on my radar a while back, but I didn’t pull trigger. Now, with this info, I’m going to have to take a look at their products again as they are fresh in my mind. Good stuff!

  • I have an ES12 and like it, but have been waiting for the ES16. Will you have them at THP Events for us to test out? I would like to try one, and plan on at least one THP Event this year.

  • Yes. Been waiting for this. Please tell me THP will be reviewing these? Really interesting to hear more about the company as I had no idea where they came from, just that they appeared. I liked the ES 14 one alot, but I wanted launch angle.

  • that was fun JB and I felt like I was there. there are a lot of good devices on the market in the higher price range once you get to that $10,000 plus number. I saw their special for early ordering for under $5,000 and think i might pull the trigger.

  • i need to try one of these. will they be on the thp tour van?

  • Dennis, Dave and simulatorguy,
    I am not sure as of yet, but THP always has a launch monitor at THP Events for you to test equipment.

  • Sounds like a great place to visit. Their products seemed to be aimed at a slightly different market before, but now with the ES16 it jumps to a different level. It being as accurate or more than some of the other high priced monitors is huge for ES and for golfers. I look forward to hearing more about them as time goes on.

  • Great article Josh! This is an intriguing device. If it can deliver the goods for the price mentioned I don’t think they will be able to make them fast enough!!

  • I love hearing just how motivated and confident they are in the brand of products they have built and continue to evolve, I’ll be honest that it’s put them firmly on my radar.

  • I followed Ernest back in the days of the ES12 and really struggled to get excited about the design. Now that the 14, 15, and 16 are right in our face, I think it’s time to take another strong look at a company that obviously has a goal of accuracy and quality in mind.

    Having the ES16 be a well functioning unit would be an incredible service to golfers, at a price that isn’t obnoxious. Either way, I’ll be rooting for them. Thanks for the inside look, Josh!

  • Great, read big fan of the first person style.

    Love the focus of the customer service side and the excitement that this article generates, looking at the older models these definitely have me intrigued.

  • Good stuff, looking forward to seeing if this device can live up to it’s possibilities and become a staple for the golfer that craves numbers via technology at an affordable price point.

  • The back ground alone makes me interested. Couple that with the technology and I think we may have a winner. I think this will be another great tool for teachers and fitters across the country.

  • Great read Josh. it’s refreshing to read of a company that believes in it’s products, backs them up an strives to make them better, all while also focusing on customer service. I love the “hire more voices” line. Joe seems to get it!!

    I think Canadan’s comments above are spot on. They seem to have come miles in the quality of their products and dont’ seem done yet. Cant wait to follow the rest of their story.

  • I read a lot of stuff on the last version they had and it was all negative. I got to try one and liked it, but waiting for this one and am thinking about getting 1 for my basement. I tried skytrak but it was pretty far off on stuff.

    hope you get to review

  • I met Mr. Ernest at the pga show last year and reading this was alot like remembering that meeting. he is cordial and passionate and i have been rooting for them since that time.

  • Thanks for the great glimpse into the day and their product line.

  • pretty cool to hear about this thing. i had an ES12 and didn’t really care for it, but the 16 looks really good.

  • I love working for this company. Your article confirms that I am in the right space. Last week, Mr. Ernest and I went out to test the accuracy of limited flight golf balls on the launch monitors. They were pretty accurate. Mr. Ernest took one directly in the forehead from 145 yards away. We laugh about it today, last week not so much. We are rewarded by working hard, expressing our ideas and creativity.

    The sky is the limit here at Ernest Sports. The ES16 Tour our on the launching pad. It’s going to be a fantastic ride! Josh, thank you for your visit. We are very honored to read these words. Especially, when they are coming from such and industry expert as yourself!

    We are grateful for the chance to server our clients!

  • Travis,
    It was great meeting you yesterday and look forward to hearing more about the ES16 when it officially launches.

  • i really hope that thp gets one of these to review because i have been looking at the cheaper flightscope and want to hear about all units first.

  • Great write up Josh. Sounds like a piece of technology we as consumers need to pay attention to.

  • Great read and insight. Sounds like their dedication can take them a long way in being successful and have a product people can trust

  • Great read JB, I hope to see one of these at a THP event some day. I really wish there was a “mid-end” market for launch monitors that more people could afford.

  • ASN21,
    I think that is kind of where the ES14 falls. That sub $1000 unit that can do multiple things. My gut says it is going to be a crowded section soon as well.

  • really interesting. i was an early adopter with the 12 and then replaced that with the 14. the 12 was just okay, and i don’t care what the reviews say about the 14 by some writers, for me it is great. really reliable, very accurate, and close to my pros trackman we train on. setup side by side the numbers are with in 5 percent on just about every swing. really interesting because i think my pro might switch out to the 16 if the early testing is really favorable.

  • I love this product. Having the ES14 has given me the tools to improve my game.

  • Love the background on the company! It’s really impressive that they test all of their products before shipping and they overnight a loaner if you need to send yours in for repair.

  • Fascinating! I look forward to seeing what Ernest Sports continues to develop both in accuracy and price.

  • Nice article, JB. Sounds like a great company atmosphere that is producing great products. I am hoping that the ES16 will lead to lower prices and more availability at ranges, etc.

  • Great stuff here Josh. Ernest sports sounds like they are building something that all golfers will want. Personally, I love seeing the data while I’m practicing.

  • Some passion went into this product, great read.

  • I got a ES14. I LOVE it. It gives me everything I need when a more expensive launch monitor is not available.

  • Ernest need to be more aware of the need of simulation along with launch monitoring function and better compatibility with PC and other debices. They need to promote software and simulation packages along with their products. One main reason I will chose FlightScope or GC Quad over their E16.

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