Ping Turns 50
To mark the 50th anniversary of Ping Golf, the company has released a series of rare images featuring founder Karsten Solheim and some of his early creations.
The first club that Solheim designed and sold was the Ping 1A putter. This patent drawing of the clubhead was created in 1959.
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"All my life I was hoping to build something that somebody wanted," Solheim told Sports Illustrated in 1977. "The last thing I had in mind was a golf club. But if I had planned my life, I don't know of anything that would be more enjoyable."
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In 1988, Solheim and the Karsten Manufacturing Company received The President's "E" Certificate for Exports from Ronald Reagan. The award reads, "For an outstanding contribution to the Export Expansion Program of the United States of America." Today, Ping employs nearly 1,000 people in the Scottsdale area, where its corporate offices and club-making foundry are located.
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In this 1969 photo, Jack Nicklaus is holding a Ping putter that would not seem out of place in a modern pro shop. The plumber's neck, the heel-toe weighting, and the cut in the sole to adjust the sound are features still found in many modern putters.
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This Ping creation, the 69BC putter, was released in the mid-60s but later banned by the United States Golf Association. Designed to be used croquet-style, the bend in the shaft was deemed to give an unfair advantage to the player. There is now a USGA rule that states, "The shaft must be straight from the top of the grip to a point not more than 5 inches (127mm) above the sole, measured from the point where the shaft ceases to be straight along the axis of the bent part of the shaft and the neck and/or socket."
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Solheim posed with the finished product, a Ping Anser putter, in 1967. The "w" was dropped from answer because six letters would not fit on the back toe, where the stamp needed to be placed.
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This slightly more formal drawing of the Anser was made in 1966.
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When Solheim came up with his original idea for the putter that would become the Anser, the only piece of paper he could find was this 78-rpm record sleeve.
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Solheim and his wife, Louise, posed in the backyard of their Redwood City, Calif., home in 1959 with several Ping putters waiting to be sold.
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This was the finished product, the Ping 1A. The putter got its name from the distinctive, high-pitched "ping" sound it made at impact.
• Watch a video of Solheim explaining his Ping 1A putter.
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At Ping's foundry in Scottsdale, metal is superheated until molten and poured into molds. When the metal cools, the molds are broken apart and the clubheads are then inspected, cleaned, polished, checked for defects and made ready for assembly into clubs. The only clubs that Ping produces that are not cast at the company's foundry are those that use titanium (drivers and the S57 irons).
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