|John A. Solheim, Chairman and CEO|
PING is an American manufacturer of golf equipment, based in Phoenix, Arizona. Ping was founded by Karsten Solheim, following a career as engineer at the General Electric company. In 1959, he started making putters in his garage in Redwood City, California. In 1967, he resigned his job at General Electric to develop the PING company.
Solheim began PING golf as a garage business. His frustration during the game of golf resulted from his difficulty putting with the putters of the era. The engineer from General Electric invented a new putter in his garage known as the "PING 1A".
The name "PING" came from the sound that Solheim heard as the metal struck the ball. The 1A and other PING putters to come would revolutionize the putter market with newly found "heel-toe" weighting.
The success Solheim found in 1959 with the invention of the 1A would set PING on a road to be one of the great innovators in the rich history of golf technology. The PING 1A's sales and hype would peak as Sports Illustrated named the PING 1A the "musical" putter for the sweet sound emitted.
In 1961, the Solheims moved from Redwood City, California to Phoenix, Arizona where the company would find a permanent home. Despite the increasing sales of the PING putter, Solheim continued to create his putters single-handedly in his garage after departing General Electric.
In the same year, he invented his first set of irons which he named "69", which he considered to be a good round of golf. Solheim continued to experiment with the effects of good heel-toe weighting in his irons and also milled a cavity into the steel back of the irons for added forgiveness.
The first PGA Tour victory while using a PING club came in 1962 at the Cajun Classic Open Invitational by John Barnum. Sales of the PING putters rose as the popularity steadily increased. The Golf World Cup of 1965 brought even greater sales of the garage-made PING putters as many of the top players used the PING putters during the televised event in Japan.
In 1966, possibly the greatest event of the PING Corporation's history occurred as Solheim had an idea for a new putter flash in his mind. As he was unable to find a piece of paper, the design for his new putter was sketched on the dust cover of a 78 RPM record. After Solheim had finalized the design, he was still in need for a name. Solheim's wife Louise suggested the name "Answer" for the new putter as it "was an answer for the vexing problems in putting". As the name "Answer" would be too long to fit on the putter, the name was shortened to just "Anser".
The Anser would go on to be the most influential putter in golf while setting the standard for what is considered to be the "conventional" putter and racking up 500 professional golf wins and becoming the "winningest" putter in history. The cavity back and low center of gravity provided superior feel for golfers of all abilities.
PING faced a major golf obstacle at the end of 1966 as the USGA, golf's governing body for rules and equipment, outlawed all PING putters other than the Anser for tournament and handicap play. The decision came as the other PING models had a special bend in the shaft located under the grip which was thought to give players a special advantage in the putting stroke.
In 1967, Solheim resigned his position at General Electric and moved his business from his garage to a factory calling his company the Karsten Manufacturing Corporation (KMC). The factory was still located in his new hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. The patent for the PING Anser putter came on March 21, 1967. The first major championship to be won using a PING putter came in 1969 at the Masters. The last major innovation by PING during the 1960s came with K1 stainless cast steel iron set.
Ping fitting innovation
Ping was the first manufacturer to offer high quality cast clubs, which both reduced costs, allowed better quality control for high tech features and set the stage for manufactured fitting.
Ping was also the first to offer factory fitting, via a variety of clubheads in different lies and offsets. Beginning about 1980 Ping began offering their fitting program based on a checklist of the player's physical characteristics, common problems and distances.
The 2011 checklist at the Ping website contained approximately 100 data inputs and was part of a 5-step fitting process covering everything from driver to putter.
Ping is so intent on custom fitting that it began manufacturing some iron clubheads with a small notch in the clubhead. The notch allows the clubhead to be bent to the required specification without the danger of breaking the clubhead as was the problem for previous models.
In 2011 Ping was offering a total of 12 iron clubhead alternatives (identified by color codes).
As a result, for golfers buying new clubs Ping clubs may offer a "best possible game" scenario. For golfers buying used Ping clubs, they should have them refitted unless both buyer and seller are of a similar age, height, weight, have a similar swing plane, etc. Failure to use a properly fitted Ping club may result the "worst possible game" scenario.[dubious ]
Ping Tour Players