The Bible of All Things PING

I escorted this fancy new golf book to the scale in my workshop.

The scale said 7.9 pounds. That’s not a book, it’s an Olympic event.

And the Putter Went…PING is the name of a comprehensive book that tells the story of PING golf clubs and the Solheim family that has owned and guided PING for more than 50 years.

The book was unveiled Monday, April 23, and can be purchased May 1 for a suggested retail price of $100 (www.ping-shop.com). A limited leather-bound edition with gilded edges will be available for $300. This 575-page oversized book is printed on heavy paper with nearly 1,000 diagrams, illustrations and photographs.

It’s worth it. The book has an artistic look and feel. It takes an in-depth look at all things PING. Author Jeff Ellis, a noted golf club historian and collector, has done a spectacular job.

There is something magical about PING, the golf company started in 1959 by brilliant Norwegian engineer Karsten Solheim (with invaluable encouragement from his wife, Louise). Over the decades, PING has persisted stubbornly in a sea of giant conglomerates. Among the top five companies in American golf (PING, Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade and Cobra), PING is the only one that has remained family owned.

The whole scoop on PING is here, from the design of Karsten’s first putters, irons and woods to a complete rundown of golfers who used PING putters to win tournaments on recognized international tours.

The book could be the centerpiece of a dynamite trivia game. Gather your closest, smartest friends and have at it. Senior golfers in particular will recognize the names and faces of many PING staff players over the years.

Gloria Armstrong is here. In 1960, she and her PING 4A mallet putter teamed with Jim Turnesa to win the Haig and Haig Scotch Mixed Foursomes. Thus she became the first professional golfer to win a national professional event with a PING putter.

John Barnum is here. Barnum, 51, used a PING 69 putter to win the 1962 Cajun Classic and become the oldest first-time winner on the PGA Tour.

Mary Bea Porter is here. In 1988, the PING staff professional was playing in an LPGA qualifying event when she heard a couple screaming for help. Their child was floating face down in a swimming pool. Porter scaled a fence, ran to the child and administered CPR. He survived.

Jack Nicklaus is here. Using a PING Cushin putter, he won three PGA Tour events in 1966 and one in 1967. Not to be overlooked is Tom Watson’s feat. He won five Open Championships, each one with a PING putter.

There are plenty of anecdotes focusing on PING’s gold putter vault, home of a gold-plated putter for every PING professional victory over the years (closing in on 3,000).

Yes, the gold-putter models and specs match those of the actual putters. Just ask Lee Westwood, who has accumulated 42 individual victories with a variety of different PING putters.

Karsten Solheim’s many inventions, such as bent golf shafts, are thoroughly discussed in the book.

Ready for a fascinating rundown of the different product names that have helped PING establish its identity? They are outlined here, from the phenomenally successful Anser family to the Ballnamic family to the EYE series. There are, of course, many more names.

The PING story is not necessarily sugar-coated for golfer consumption. Deane Beman, commissioner of the PGA Tour during the groove controversy of the late 1980s and early 1990s, does not emerge as a sympathetic character.

The book is so interesting that it might require two golfers to get through it — one person to read the story, the other to provide the historical context.

On the other hand, I decided to take the one-person approach and sit down separately at the 2017 Masters with PING chairman and chief executive John A. Solheim and PING director of tour player relations Chance Cozby.

Among the topics of conversation was this one: golf club requirements for PING staff players.

All PING pros must use a PING putter and PING driver. Other than that, they must carry a total of at least 11 PING clubs. The 11-club requirement is less than most golf equipment companies, some of which require players to use 14 clubs.

“Ours is a fair arrangement,” Solheim said.

“Actually it probably reduces some of the pressure on the players,” Cozby added. “It gives them a sense of freedom. Anyway, it almost always works in our favor. Our players are very loyal to PING. Our job is to clear their head. We want to make them as comfortable and confident as possible.”


Male golfers Who Used PING Putters to Win Major Championships

MASTERS (13)
1969 George Archer (Anser)
1977 Tom Watson (A-Blade)
1979 Fuzzy Zoeller (Zing)
1980 Seve Ballesteros (Anser)
1981 Tom Watson (Pal)
1983 Seve Ballesteros (Anser)
1988 Sandy Lyle (Pal)
1992 Fred Couples (Anser)
1994 Jose Maria Olazabal (Zing)
1998 Mark O’Meara (Anser 2)
2009 Angel Cabrera (1/2 Craz-E)
2012 Bubba Watson (Anser Milled)
2014 Bubba Watsopn (Anser Milled)

U.S. OPEN (13)
1970 Tony Jacklin (A-Blade)
1982 Tom Watson (Pal)
1983 Larry Nelson (B60)
1984 Fuzzy Zoeller (Zing)
1988 Curtis Strange (Zing 2)
1989 Curtis Strange (Zing 2)
1991 Payne Stewart (Anser 2)
1993 Lee Janzen (Zing 2)
1994 Ernie Els (Anser)
1997 Ernie Els (Anser)
2007 Angel Cabrera (Anser)
2012 Webb Simpson (G5i Craz-E)
2014 Martin Kaymer (Karsten Anser 2)

OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP (18)
1969 Tony Jacklin (A-Blade)
1975 Tom Watson (A-Blade)
1977 Tom Watson (A-Blade)
199 Seve Ballesteros (Anser)
1980 Tom Watson (Pal)
1982 Tom Watson (Pal)
1983 Tom Watson (Pal)
1984 Seve Ballesteros (Anser)
1985 Sandy Lyle (B60)
1987 Nick Faldo (Pal 2)
1988 Seve Ballesteros (Anser)
1989 Mark Calcavecchia (Anser)
1991 Ian Baker-Finch (Anser 2)
1992 Nick Faldo (B60)
1993 Greg Norman (Anser 2)
1998 Mark O’Meara (Anser 2)
2004 Todd Hamilton (B60)
2010 Louis Oosthuizen (Anser)

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (14)
1981 Larry Nelson (B60)
1982 Ray Floyd (B60)
1984 Lee Trevino (A-Blade)
1985 Hubert Green (Anser 4)
1986 Bob Tway (Anser)
1987 Larry Nelson (Anser 2)
1988 Jeff Sluman (Pal 2)
1989 Payne Stewart (Anser 2)
1990 Wayne Grady (Anser)
1991 John Daly (Pal 2)
1993 Paul Azinger (Anser)
1995 Steve Elkington (Anser)
1997 Davis Love III (Anser)
2010 Martin Kaymer (Anser 2)

—Jim Achenbach       Senior Golf Insider      achenslice@aol.com