Ping Golf has arranged celebratory plans for its 50th anniversary in January during the annual Orlando PGA Merchandise Show. Created by founder Karsten Solheim in 1959, after struggling with his own personal putting woes, the first Ping putter (the 1-A) was created. Due to the distinctive “ping” sound the General Electric engineer’s putter was created and a company was born.
In the 70’s with the acquisition of a casting foundry and heat treating plant, Karsten was finally allowed to control the destiny of his club making dream. With the growth of the Eye2 irons in the 80’s, golfers from around the world begin playing and endorsing the Ping product. However the 80’s also saw Karsten enter into a fight with the USGA and PGA Tour over the use of square grooves.
In 1995 Karsten turned the operation of Ping golf over to youngest son John who decided to market the company in a different manner. He began by inviting key Ping accounts to their factory for a tour. In 1996 I was fortunate to receive one of the all expense paid trips to the Ping factory in Phoenix. It was a great trip, something not forgotten to this date. I saw everything from the casting process to final assembly of the clubs. The most memorable part of the trip was a visit to the testing factory, located in the back of the main building, where a private driving range hosts PGA and LPGA Tour players who test the clubs before they go to market. I hope to have the opportunity to go back soon!
In the 2000’s Karsten passed away and Ping, by a wide margin, has ranked first among club fitting companies. At the Orlando PGA Merchandise Show Ping’s celebration plans include sponsorship of the PGA Best Practices Club fitting Area, a showcase of the latest in fitting tools at the outdoor demo day and sponsorship of the 2nd Annual PGA Magazine Merchandisers of the Year conference. After 40 years the celebration is well deserved! If you have a chance to go the Orlando Show is well worth the trip even without the celebrations.