Calling all Pingsters.
Ping currently is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous Anser putter, which was conceived and first produced in 1966. In these 50 years, more than 500 tournaments on the world’s significant professional tours have been won by players using Anser putters.
To commemorate the creation of the Anser putter, Ping has manufactured and serialized 1,550 right-handed replicas and an unspecified smaller number of left-handed putters. In the back cavity of each putter are the words Scottsdale Anser. Also included are a leather putter cover and a certificate of authenticity personally signed by Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim.
It could be argued that nobody makes limited-edition golf clubs as precisely and faithfully as Ping. For example, the sole of each Anser replica is hand-ground by John, the youngest son of Karsten and Louise Solheim, just as he did 50 years ago in his family’s garage.
The first Ansers were made of brass, which is very soft. So Karsten, a highly regarded engineer, quickly switched to high-strength manganese bronze. The limited-edition putters also are made of manganese bronze.
Here’s what else Ping did to stay true to the manufacturing process from 1966:
• The heads were sand-cast using the original tools. This was completed at East Bay Brass Foundry in Richmond, Calif. — just as the first Ansers had been.
• The duplicate High-Step steel shaft came from True Temper.
• Golf Pride again manufactured the Ping PP58 grip.
• 3M, which supplied the grip tape in 1966, did the same 50 years later.
“Most people don’t realize the amount of hand work that went into the original Anser putters,” said John Solheim.
The U.S. suggested retail price is $900, but it requires more than money to qualify as a true Pingster.
Click HERE to take a tough 10-question Ping trivia quiz. With five or more correct answers, a golfer earns a coveted honor — Pingster for life.
1: Who was the first player to win a PGA Tour event using a Ping putter?
a. Julius Boros
b. John Barnum
c. Tony Lema
d. Bob (Beatle) Bailey
2. Which Ping putter was used in that first win?
a. Model 69
b. Ping Pal
c. Ping Craz-e
d. Ping 1-A
3. Who was the first player to claim a major with the Anser and which major did he win?
a. Billy Casper – 1970 Masters
b. Orville Moody – 1969 U.S. Open
c. George Archer – 1969 Masters
d. Lee Trevino – 1968 U.S. Open
4. The original design of the Anser was sketched by Ping founder on an unusual object. What was it?
a. John Solheim’s forearm
b. The sleeve of a 78-RPM record
c. A scorecard from Papago Golf Course
d. A program from the 1965 Phoenix Open
5. Who named the Anser putter?
a. Ping PR whiz Bob Cantin
b. Oldest Solheim brother Louis
c. Golf nut and comedian Soupy Sales
d. Karsten’s wife Louise Solheim
6. Who was the first golfer to win a PGA Tour event with the Anser putter?
a. Lionel Hebert
b. Jay Hebert
c. George Knudsen
d. Dan Sikes
7. The original Scottsdale Ansers were made in what city?
a. Scottsdale, Ariz.
b. Scottsdale, Mexico.
c. Phoenix, Ariz.
d. Redwood City, Calif.
8. In 1982, Ping introduced what would become the largest selling iron of all time. What was it called?
9. Which Ping staff member won the 1991 PGA Championship?
a. Mark James
b. Mark Calcavecchia
c. John Daly
d. David Feherty
10. What was the title of the official Solheim family biography?
a. His Putter Went “Ping”
b. Karsten’s Way
c. The Man Who Changed Golf
d. Golf’s Most Recognized Inventor
ANSERS TO PING QUIZ
1. John Barnum
Barnum, from Grand Rapids, Mich., ranks fifth on the list of oldest PGA Tour winners. He captured the 1962 Cajun Classic at the age of 51 years, 1 month and 5 days for his sole PGA Tour win. He is the only golfer in history to score his first PGA Tour title after the age of 50.
The four golfers ahead of him on the oldest list — in order — are Sam Snead, Art Wall, Davis Love III and Jim Barnes.
2. Model 69
Tough question. It couldn’t be the Anser, which was not available until four years after Barnum’s victory. Most of the other dozens and dozens of Ping models had not yet been invented either.
3. George Archer – 1969 Masters
The “Gilroy Cowboy” was one of the finest putters of his time.
4. The sleeve of a 78-RPM record
This was well before golf clubs were conceived with the help of sophisticated computer software programs. Solheim loved to draw his concepts, and this one was sketched on a 78-RPM record sleeve. Eat your heart out, Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, the album’s title and artist are lost to history.
5. Karsten’s wife, Louise Solheim
When Louise suggested it be called the Answer, Karsten said the name was too long to fit on the putter. Louise told him to shorten it to Anser.
6. Lionel Hebert
The Anser’s breakthrough victory came at the 1966 Florida Citrus Open. Lionel is remembered as part of golf’s most successful brother-brother tandem, as both he and Jay Hebert won the PGA Championship.
7. Phoenix, Ariz.
Surprise! The Scottsdale Anser putter was made in Phoenix. It was called the Scottsdale Anser because Ping, in the mid 1960s, used a nearby post office box in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Ping Eye2 not only was the biggest selling iron of all time, but it also proved that investment cast, cavity-back irons were here to stay.
9. John Daly
Daly was a largely unknown touring professional when he won the 1991 PGA Championship, getting into the field as the ninth alternate and negotiating the course without a single practice round.
10. Karsten’s Way
His influence and insistence on quality workmanship is still present today at Ping headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz.
—Jim Achenbach, Senior Golf Insider