One of our best moments of the last year was listening to John Solheim talk about his involvement in the creation of the original Anser putter.
Working for gas money in the family garage he ground and finished the original Anser models, one from a mould made by his father Karsten and one from his brother Allan, which became one of golf's iconic clubs.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anser, Ping is following up the release of the Ping TR 1966 with a limited edition club made from the original moulds, assembled with components used in the U.S.A., and supplied by retailers used in 1966.
The finishing touch is that the sole will again be ground personally by Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim, who is excited by the project:
It brought back a lot of great memories from the days in our garage near Scottsdale. The Anser is the most successful putter design ever and its place in history is unquestioned. Who could have imagined 50 years after its invention it would still be the most dominant design on tour?
It seems like golfers of all abilities have used an Anser putter at some point. This limited-edition version is a tribute to that success and a look to the future with some of the technology we’ve added in the form of tungsten in the heel and toe to bring it to modern-day weights.
The original concept for the Anser putter was sketched on a 78-rpm record sleeve by Ping founder Karsten Solheim in early 1966 and patented the next year.
He originally called the putter the "Answer" but this was too long to put on the toe of the club so John's mother suggested he remove the "w" leaving "Anser" and golf history was made.
The Anser is the most successful putter in golf with over 500 tour titles to its name, including 19 men's major championships, so it dominates the Ping Gold Putter Vault that celebrates each Ping victory with a gold plated replica.
The 50th anniversary limited-edition models are made from high-tensile manganese bronze and come in a commemorative presentation box with a leather putter cover and a certificate of authenticity personally signed by John Solheim.
Staying true to the manufacturing process from 1966, the limited-edition model is sand-cast using both of the original tools (one machined by Karsten and one by his son, Allan) at East Bay Brass Foundry in Richmond, California, that also sand-cast the original Anser.
True Temper and Golf Pride provide shafts and grips as they did for the original Anser and Ping has even used grip tape from 3M who supplied it for the original putter.
The putter is assembled at Ping's HQ in Phoenix where tungsten heel and toe weights are inserted and precisely milled with other key surfaces in the company’s machine shop before Solheim hand grinds each sole.
John Solhiem, Ping Chairman and CEO, again:
Most people don’t realise the amount of hand work that went into the original Anser putters 50 years ago. The radiuses on both of the hand-machined tools were finished with a file and sandpaper by Karsten. I built most of the original Ansers in the garage, starting with machining and grinding the raw castings and continuing on through final assembly.
My brother Allan machined the second mould, which is slightly different and often referred to as the ‘slope-side’ mould. We wanted to bring that hand crafted approach back as part of the Anser’s 50-year celebration and its remarkable contribution to golf.
Ping is producing and serialising 1,550 right-handed 50th anniversary Ansers, 775 from each mould, distinguished by a "K" or "A". Left handed models are also available with an RRP of £850.