Bernie Pinder started playing golf in 1964 “only because I had to” for a new job as a sales engineer.” He always loved sports, but never thought he would ever play golf—until he hit that first ball and got hooked. He became fascinated with the importance of putting in lowering one’s score, and one night, after a new putter concept hit him in the middle of the night, he jumped out of bed and started sketching. He made his first putter in 1987, and Ontic Golf Group, LLC was incorporated in 2003. All Ontic putters are CNC-machined and assembled in Grand Haven, Michigan, and feature Adjustable Lie Angle Technology that helps the golfer lock in a precise lie angle. They also feature Dynamic Sole Technology, which enables the golfer to set up to that precise lie angle on each putt. We caught up to Bernie to discuss Ontic putters, as well as his thoughts putting and to learn what’s next from Ontic. Following is our exclusive interview:
What is Dynamic Sole Technology (DST) and how does it benefit the average golfer?
I would define our DST putter design concept with just one word: Consistent.
Our DST started as a concept to lower the weighting in the heel and toe areas of the putter to both increase weighting and to support higher MOI values. In addition, the DST design proved to be the perfect sole platform for absolute precise lie angle adjustments of a putter. By resting the putter on the lowered heel and toe features, the putter sits flat to the putting surface. The custom-fit lie angle is then absolute, and the set-up ritual and stroke plane become consistent. The other putter features are also more consistent when the putter sets up flat, such as putter balance, weight distribution from heel to toe, and face alignment.
Having said that, all other putters on the market today have a rounded convex sole, with off-the-shelf upright lie angles of 70 to 72 degrees that cannot be custom fitted for precise and consistent lie angles. Any slight hand, ball, or stance change allows the golfer to rock the putter over the convex sole, changing the lie angle. This slight change produces inconsistent set-up, ball and eye position, and changes in the stroke plane.
How does your Adjustable Lie Angle Technology (ALAT) Work?
With the development of our M-PULSE series putters with the ALAT System, we were able to design a method for self-adjusting lie angles. After 17 months of development and USGA evaluation, the innovation of the Ontic Adjustable Lie Angle Technology was complete. For the very first time, every golfer is now able to easily and precisely lock in their custom lie angle. When I say precise, I mean any degree, or fraction of a degree, ranging from the max upright of 80 degrees to a flat range just under 60 degrees. If your lie angle is 67.357, you can do it! In addition, if the golfer wanted to make a lie angle change, it can be done quickly.
You state that “for 95 percent of the golfers we have fitted, the lie angle range has been from 65 to 69 degrees,” which is significantly flatter than what is typically considered “standard.” Is this a function of your recommended setup position or something else?
From our personal, hands-on putter fitting process, our data shows that 90 to 95 percent of golfers fall into a bell curve range of 65 to 69 degrees for their custom lie angle. The precise lie angle is determined by the set-up ritual for each individual golfer. Since the golfer’s physical stature varies, so will the set-up ritual vary. We will be writing more on the set-up ritual soon, however, our videos show the process very well. I consider the precise lie angle for the individual golfer the most critical starting foundation for all custom fitting procedures.
Your vision statement includes the following: To bring putting instruction beyond the hype and myth that is marketed today. Can you elaborate on that?
Where do I start? Here are a few…For more than 30 years I have been collecting articles about putting, putters, instruction, etc., and over those 30 plus years I have seen many changes in this great game of golf. Much has been pure marketing hype and a lot of hand-me-down myths. Here are a few…
Eyes over the ball: Only for some. Others say they do, but don’t
Forward press: How consistent is this? Are you forward pressing 1 degree or 3 degrees?
Ball settles down in a depression on the green and you need more loft to lift it out: Really? Not even on greens with a stimp of 8 will this happen. I have done precise gauge testing to disprove this myth.
Arc stroke for heel-shafted putters, and straight back-straight through for center-shafted putters: I assume the putter head knows the difference? I am working on dispelling this and promoting the best type of putting stroke. One method is close, but both above are wrong.
Hit the ball on an up-stroke to get instant forward roll: Only the absolute loft at impact, at the correct ball position in the set-up, gives best roll rates.
What’s next for Ontic Golf?
Great question…. It is a tough business trying to get our great message and innovative putters on the market. Ontic is slowing growing and we have had sales around the world. We are putting together a great team of PGA and teaching professionals. Ontic putters are carried by a few retail stores and a few green grass shops. It has been a building process, and with our current team we feel 2011 will be a good growth year. Hopefully a Tour player and more will be taking a look at Ontic putters. Ontic Golf will be opening more Ontic Short Game Golf Academies that focus mostly on putting. Ontic also will introduce another putter training aid called the Putter’s Grail very soon. It is our goal to introduce the M-PULSE Lite The Fire putter and a new M-PULSE blade putter. We have a patent-pending on a new putter shaft, but cannot say more about the innovation for the shaft at this time.