PING honored as Champion of Golf
Article by Bill Huffman It seems more than fitting that PING has been selected as the fourth recipient of the Champion of Golf Award, presented annually by the Arizona Golf Association as part of the festivities surrounding the Arizona State Stroke Play Championship. In 1961, the Phoenix-based golf club manufacturer moved to the Valley of the Sun, a 50-year milestone that will be remembered this year along with 100th birthday of its founder, the late Karsten Solheim. As most who follow the game know, Karsten Solheim and PING are synonymous. And as most also are aware, few in the golf industry have done more to promote, inspire and help those who play the game than PING, which was honored April 13 at the Golf Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale. “We’re honored to receive this recognition so close to home,’’ said John Solheim, the chairman and CEO of PING. “I know my dad, whose 100th birthday is this year (Sept. 15), would be very honored as well. “(Karsten) took exceptional pride in calling Arizona home. It provided him the perfect setting to build his company.’’ A classic American success story, PING’s humble beginning in 1959 can be traced to the family garage in Redwood City, Calif. Two years later the company moved to Phoenix with Solheim’s persistence, curiosity and strong work ethic forming the company’s foundation. In 1966, PING moved to its current location in North Phoenix and over the years the company has expanded from the original, 2,200-square foot building to 25 buildings that are spread out over 50 acres. Thousands of Valley residents have worked for PING through the years, including its current staff of 800 employees. What separates PING from many other golf club manufacturers is its never-ending drive to innovate and make the products better, with its Phoenix plant serving as its worldwide headquarters for research and product design. The company also supports the game in all shapes and sizes, from its title sponsorships with the LPGA to its involvement in the junior high, high school and college ranks. PING also goes the extra distance when it comes to charitable contributions within the game and out of the game, supporting numerous charities that are related or unrelated to golf. It also makes club donations that reach military personnel around the world, as well as special equipment for “Wounded Warriors’’ and the physically challenged. According to John Solheim, the chief goal of his company – to grow the game by making it more enjoyable through product development –is a family tradition. “We continue to follow Karsten’s vision of brining golfers the most innovative and highest quality products available while giving back to the game,’’ Solheim said. “We’re humbled to receive any honor related to golf because we’re so fortunate to be part of such a wonderful industry.’’ Previous winners of the Champion of Golf Award include Tom Cunningham, the executive director of the Junior Golf Association (2008), award-winning architect Gary Panks (2009) and former Thunderbird liaison/noted golf emcee Jim Frazier (2010).