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Essential reading if you are planning on playing golf this winter.
One of the biggest, and most recognisable names in golf equipment, the Ping story began humbly. Karsten Solheim was a mechanical engineer who found his putting was handicapping his game. He started to experiment with different designs and, in 1959, came up with the 1A model. The putter came up with its own brand name - when Solheim hit the ball it "Pinged" off the club face.
Still operating from his garage Karsten Solheim began to manufacture putters for customers and, as the 1960's wore on, orders began to grow. Televised golf, with the top players using Ping putters, and a first Ping tour victory in 1962 captured the public's imagination and Ping gradually established a name as the best in putter design.
That reputation was to grow even more spectacularly when Ping introduced the classic Anser putter. Solheim jotted a sketch down of a new putter in January 1959. That rough sketch became the most successful putter golf has ever known. The Ping Anser (so called becuase the word "Answer" was too long for the clubhead) propelled Ping to the front ranks of equipment manufacturers as position confirmed by the Anser weilding John Archer clinching the 1969 Masters. By the end of 1970's Ping had become the number one choice of putter for golf professionals.
As Ping developed and enhanced its reputation as the world's leading putter brand Karsten Solheim began to bring his design principles to bear on Ping irons and became the first designer to experiment with cavity backed clubs to enhance fogiveness. The attention to detail that marked all of Ping's research and development was confirmed by the introduction of Ping Man - a robotic golfer that perfectly captured the vagaries of the human swing - in the late 1970's.
In the 1980's Ping established itself as the number one brand for all golf clubs when the Ping Eye2 Iron became the best selling club of all time. In 1986 Bob Tway won the US PGA thanks to holed bunker shot using the Eye 2 Ping wedge and, two years later, Ping putters were the choice of all four major winners.
Ping continued to lead the field throughout the 1980's and 1990's and, in the new millenium, the same commitment to detail and forward thinking has seen the company remain at the forefront of world golf. The company also began to make an impact with their metal drivers and Ping fairway woods with Ping Drivers becoming the number one choice at the World's Longest Driver tournament.
Karsten Solheim died in 2000 - in 2001 he was posthumously inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the only club manufacturer to enjoy that honour - but the Solheim family remain heavily involved with the business.<
Karsten Solheim is also remembered by the Solheim Cup, the team event between the best women golfers from both sides of the Atlantic which is played every two years. Karsten donated the trophy in 1990 and was a driving force behind the creation of the event.
Today Ping can boast of over 500 Tour wins and almost 50 major victories. Each of those victories is marked by the casting of two gold putters - one for the player and one to remain at Ping's headquarters. More than 2500 putters - along with a few wedges including Bob Tway's 1986 Ping Eye2 that he used to win the USPGA - currently reside in the gold putter vault, a reminder, if any were needed, of the revolutionary affect Karsten Solheim and the company he singlehandedly created almost 50 years ago has had on world golf.