Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

Over the years I have interviewed many of the leading golf industry figures in some pretty unique locations. However talking golf surrounded by millions of dollars worth of gold putters is going to take some beating.

Play the video below to see this scene as I went into the Ping Gold Putter Vault to meet Chairman and CEO John A Solheim on the 60th anniversary of the launch of the iconic Ping Anser putter.

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The Ping Gold Putter Vault was started by John's father Karsten who built the Ping company on the success of his design for the Anser putter on its 60th anniversary.

When a tour player won with a Ping putter, as he did not pay them to use it, Karsten would make two gold plated versions of the model they used and give one to the player and put the other in the vault at Ping's headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.

At the start of 2016 Lee Westwood had the most gold putters with 58 and in total there are over 2,800 including several clubs such as Bob Tway's Ping Eye 2 sand-iron that he used to hole from the bunker to win the 1986 USPGA Championship.

John then talks about how the heel/toe weighting and hosel design were the two revolutionary design features of the Anser putter.

Now that the 20 year patent for the design has long expired I asked him what he thought of the fact that the Anser design has now been copied by virtually every other putter manufacturer.

"Well, some people can't come up with their own things. It's a compliment, but it's kind of frustrating at the same time."

John Solheim Ping Gold Putter Vault

John is an expert engineer in his own right and when I asked him what his equivalent of the Anser he had had a direct hand in creating he mentioned two products. One is the Ping Craz-e putter and the other will surprise you, as it is not something that you use to hit a ball but we all have one.

It's the stand mechanism on the Ping Hoofer bag. John figured out how to use the movement that was already in the bottom of the bag when you put it down to operate the mechanism to kick out the legs.

Initially there was a lot of scepticism because stand bags were heavy and viewed as an old man's thing for people who could not bend down.

However when he supplied regular and stand bags to the Oklahoma State University golf team, one of the players used it and said how it made him play better as the stand bag kept his clubs drier in the rain.

From that moment on the team coach made them mandatory and before long all the other US college teams adopted them, which then spread the word amongst other amateur golfers.

The Ping Gold Putter Vault is one of the most incredible places I been in golf and a very unique experience, especially being in there with one of the people who helped create the putters surrounding us that are immortalised in gold.

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