History’s Mysteries: The PING Anser
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History’s Mysteries: The PING Anser

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History’s Mysteries: The PING Anser

Let’s fire up the Wayback Machine, fellow GolfSpies. It’s time for another edition of History’s Mysteries—MyGolfSpy’s look at the patchwork quilt that is our game’s past.

In golf history, there are three, maybe four, iconic putters. For the real historian, there’s Calamity Jane, the hickory-shafted wand Bobby Jones used to rule the 1920s. Then there’s the Wilson 8802 and Jack’s legendary MacGregor ZT-Response.

But I’m willing to bet all of Warren Buffett’s money and a sizable portion of my own that nearly everyone reading this article has played this club, or one just like it, at some point in their golfing career.

I’m talking, of course, about the PING Anser.

PING Anser

History’s Mysteries: The PING Anser

If Karsten Solheim isn’t on your Mount Rushmore of The Most Influential People in Golf History, then I suggest you reevaluate your list. To paraphrase Connor T. Lewis of The Society of Golf Historians, if you’re playing a modern golf club, even if it doesn’t say PING on it, you’re playing some PING technology.

“I heard Karsten talk about it so many times,” says PING Company Historian Rob Griffin. “He just wanted people to be able to enjoy the game of golf. And if he could make it a little easier for people to play better, that was really what he was about.”

PING is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Anser patent this week. But to truly appreciate the story of the Anser, it’s important to understand Karsten Solheim’s most unusual journey.

It’s not what you’d expect.

PING Anser

Shoes, Skates and Cookware

Karsten Solheim was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1911. Two years later, his family moved to Seattle. His mother died giving birth to his brother Ray. Karsten and Ray were raised by family friends while their father Herman worked to support the family. With all the turmoil, Karsten didn’t learn to speak English until he was almost seven.

In his teens, he worked with his father in the family shoemaking and repair business. After graduating high school in 1931, he enrolled at the University of Washington to study engineering.

Fate had other plans.

“During his first semester, his dad had an injury and couldn’t do the work in the shoe shop,” says Griffin. “So Karsten came back to help. Working in the shoe shop taught Karsten how to work with his hands.”

PING Anser

Just before Christmas in 1935, fate intervened again, this time happily. At a church social, young Karsten met Louise Crozier. He proposed 10 days later and they were married the following June.

“I believe that if Karsten had married a different young lady, we would not be here today,” says Griffin. “Louise was so important to the business and to Karsten. She had a way of keeping him focused and she was his closest business advisor.”

Five years and three kids later, fate would intervene yet again. In early 1940, Karsten broke his wrist while ice skating. He couldn’t repair shoes but still had a family to feed.

He was offered a job at a car dealership but it was a demonstration of Miracle Maid aluminum cookware that caught his eye.

Yep, the man who designed the Anser and the Eye2 sold pots and pans door to door.

PING Anser

Miracle Maid and World War II

Miracle Maid hired Karsten as its Seattle sales rep. By his second year, he was the top salesman on the West Coast, ultimately becoming West Coast division manager and moving to Fresno, Calif.

When World War II halted Miracle Maid production, Karsten was out of a job. The military, however, needed engineers. Karsten, with one semester of college under his belt, signed up for a 10-week crash engineering extension course at the University of California in Fresno. As it turned out, Karsten was so good his professor passed him after six weeks and he was placed in an engineering job at Convair working on airplanes.

Karsten was drafted in 1943. To make sure he would have a job after the war, he applied to Ryan Aeronautical. Ryan hired him on the spot to work on the FR-1 Fireball, the Navy’s first jet-propelled fighter. Karsten helped develop the Fireball’s hydraulic landing gear.

After the war, Miracle Maid came calling with enough cash to lure Karsten back. He became the quintessential traveling salesman, often on the road all week.

“Louise helped him with the business part of it,” says Griffin. “He would go do these in-house demonstrations and he would actually cook meals with the pots and pans. That’s where he learned to be a salesman.”

In 1951, Karsten returned to Convair. He worked on the Atlas Missile project and later on a missile tracking system. In 1953, he was on the move again, going to work for General Electric in its Advanced Electronics Center in Ithaca, N.Y.

Up until this time, the 42-year-old Karsten had never even looked at a golf club.

A Pivotal Round of Golf

While in Ithaca, Karsten worked on GE’s first portable television. He designed the metal cabinet and is often—erroneously—credited with inventing the “rabbit ears” antenna.

“He didn’t invent the rabbit ears,” says Griffin. “But Karsten designed rabbit ears with a ball-type socket so they could be moved in any direction so you could tune in stations better.”

Unfortunately, GE decided not to sell the TV with the antenna due to an obscure luxury tax. So Karsten gave his patent to a Chicago company called Radion.

“You’d buy your TV from GE,” Griffin says. “But if you wanted an antenna, you’d buy it from Radion. After they sold two million sets of rabbit ears, they gave Karsten a gold-plated set.”

While no one is quite sure, Griffin believes those gold-plated rabbit ears inspired the PING Gold Putter Vault.

It was during this time that Karsten, coaxed by some co-workers, first tried golf. And like many first-timers, he was brutal. Especially at putting. He noticed that even a slight mishit would cause his blade-style putter to twist. The engineer in him went to work on a solution. He found a small block of aluminum in the GE motor shop and set about fashioning his own putter.

Karsten tried to solve the twisting problem by drilling holes at either end of the putter and filling them with lead. His crude, perimeter-weighted putter did the trick and his putting got better.

The Next Level

“Karsten never thought about building putters to sell,” says Griffin. “He was just trying to improve his own putting.”

Fate, once again, had its own plan.

By 1958, GE transferred Karsten to the Bay Area in California to work on a new computerized banking system. It was there, while on the putting green at Palo Alto Municipal GC, that head professional Pat Mahoney complimented Karsten’s skill with the flat stick.

“You should have seen me before I made this putter,” Karsten is reported to have told him.

After some discussion, Mahoney said if someone could invent a putter like his that would also get the ball rolling sooner, instead of skidding, “he could sell a million of them.”

At that moment, the figurative light bulb turned on above Karsten’s head.

PING Anser

Within a day, Karsten sketched what would become the prototype of the very first PING putter, the 1A, and had a friend weld it up.

“With Karsten’s first putter, he didn’t think about low center of gravity,” says Griffin. “He just thought about heel-toe weighting to prevent twisting. It was Mahoney that got him thinking about rolling the ball instead of skidding. When he made his drawing, he had what he called the Torsion Bar on the sole to get the weight lower on the putter.”

And PING? That came from the sound the putter made when it hit the ball.

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The 1960s – A New Frontier

With the 1A putter and the name PING, Karsten started making putters in his garage. He was still working full time for GE, while PING consisted of Karsten designing and milling prototypes, son John as the assembly team and Louise looking after the books, answering the phone, taking orders, handling the shipping and managing inventory.

“Over the course of their lives, Karsten and Louise acquired the perfect skill set to start this putter business,” Griffin explains. “Louise always worked. She was a math whiz and worked for Convair in their wind tunnel. Her job title was ‘computer.’”

By 1960, Karsten was a fixture at PGA TOUR events, showing his putters to pros and charging them $5 each to buy one. He figured if they had to pay for putters, pros were much more likely to value them. In 1961, Karsten started experimenting with irons. The owner of Golfcraft gave him a batch of unfinished forged heads. Karsten machined out cavities and ultimately created the PING 69 Ballnamic irons which featured a signature double bend in the shaft right below the grip.

GE reassigned Karsten, now in his early 50s, once again, but the putter business continued to grow. In 1962, John Barnum gave PING its first PGA TOUR victory by winning the Cajun Classic in Louisiana. And in 1965, Susie Maxwell gave PING its first LPGA win.

But in 1966, the PING world was about to break wide open.

Three Days in January

The first PGA TOUR event of 1966 was the Las Angeles Open, Jan. 6-9. As usual, Karsten was there with his array of putters. He found few takers. Everyone, it seemed, was using Arnold Palmer’s putter—the Wilson 8802. Once he got back home, he told Louise, “I’ve got to find an answer for Arnie’s putter.”

That very night, he started sketching on the first thing he could find: the inner sleeve of an old 78-rpm vinyl record cover.

PING Anser

“On Jan. 14, he made a more detailed drawing on a piece of graph paper,” says Griffin. “And on that drawing, he references a sample made on Jan. 13.”

Such was the mind of Karsten Solheim. In a matter of three days, he sketched, designed and prototyped the most popular putter in the history of golf.

Three days.

That prototype sits in Griffin’s office and is shown here next to its direct descendant, the 55th-anniversary model released earlier this week.

PING Anser

And the Anser name? That’s all Louise.

While the design came easily, Karsten couldn’t figure out what to call his new putter. It was Louise who famously said, “Why don’t you call it the Answer?” After all, it was PING’s answer to the 8802.

Karsten’s reply is equally famous: “That’s no name for a putter.”

“They hemmed and hawed for a few days,” says Griffin. “And John Solheim remembers it was the morning Karsten was going to the engraver to have the nameplate for the putter made and he still hadn’t come up with a name.

“Louise said, ‘I told you, call it the Answer.’ And Karsten said, ‘That’s too many letters. It won’t fit.’

“And she said, ‘Well, take off the W. It’ll sound the same.’”

The PING Anser Takes Off

Karsten arrived at the Phoenix Open three weeks later with an armful of Ansers. Gene Littler, Kermit Zarley, George Archer and others gamed them almost immediately. One week later, Lionel Hebert and his Anser won the Florida Citrus Open. And two weeks after that, Harold Henning won the Texas Invitational with an Anser.

Along with Karsten’s signature heel-toe weighting, the Anser featured a hollowed-out cavity to help lower the center of gravity. It also introduced something we all take for granted today: the plumber’s-neck hosel.

At the time, PING was known for its bent Ballnamic shafts. They helped golfers to keep their hands ahead of the ball at impact. The plumber’s neck wound up doing the same thing but with a straight shaft. In addition, the Anser’s straight lines and right angles helped golfers square it up easily. It was balanced, stable and more forgiving than any other putter going.

PING Anser

Karsten applied for a patent on March 21, 1966. Exactly one year later, the U.S. Patent Office granted the PING Anser design patent number 207,227.

The timing couldn’t have been better. At about the same time, the USGA had decided to ban croquet-style putting, where golfers straddled the line and used a croquet stroke. Unrelated was an add-on ruling banning any shaft bends more than five inches above the sole of the club.

Since nearly all of PING’s putters and all of PING’s irons feature the Ballnamic shaft, Karsten had nothing to sell. Other than the PING Anser.

“The rule was supposed to take effect in 1968 but the Tour adopted it right away,” says Griffin. “The only putter Karsten had that complied with the rules was the Anser. It saved the business.”

It wouldn’t be the last time PING and the USGA would butt heads.

PING Becomes PING

Throughout 1966, PING was still run out of the Solheim family garage with Karsten doing the design and sales and son John handling assembly. And Karsten was still working full-time for GE. But by early 1967, GE wanted to transfer Karsten to Oklahoma City. The Solheims had moved an estimated 20 times over their 25 years together and enough was enough.

Besides, Louise had been keeping the books. She showed Karsten he was making more money selling putters than he was with GE. It was time.

So, at the age of 55, Karsten Solheim quit his job at GE, bought some land and a building and formally created Karsten Manufacturing and PING. Within two years, sales would grow from $50,000 a year to more than $800,000. The sprawling PING campus today sits at the very same location at 10834 North 21st Avenue in Phoenix.

At the time of his death in 2000, Forbes Magazine listed Karsten as one of the 400 richest people in America.

And it’s obvious to anyone who plays the game that the PING Anser is the most copied putter design in history.

“The thing about the PING Anser is that it was a design patent, not a utility patent,” says Griffin. “And design patents expire quickly. It was in effect for only about 14 years.”

Additionally, Griffin admits PING didn’t defend the patent all that vigorously.

“I don’t know exactly why but Karsten didn’t protect the patent particularly well,” he says. “We also didn’t renew it, although we could have. I think Karsten was more concerned about people using his name or the PING name.”

PING Anser

The PING Anser: Mystery Solved

Towards the end of our conversation, I had to ask Griffin a simple question. If Karsten walked into a golf shop today and saw all those PING Anser copies, what would he think? What would he say?

“He’d probably say something like, ‘Hey, I know where that design came from,’” Griffin replied, laughing. “I think he would be flattered. That’s the thing about Karsten that we don’t talk about enough. His real goal in life was to make the game of golf easier for people so they would enjoy it more.”

We at MyGolfSpy meet with OEM R&D engineers all the time and you’ll invariably hear them talk about perimeter weighting, forgiveness and low CG. They talk about getting the ball up in the air easier and keeping mishits in play. And more often than not, they’ll remind us it’s all stuff Karsten was talking about in the ’60s and ’70s. And it was Karsten who figured out that by lowering the CG and adding perimeter weighting, you could strengthen lofts to make the ball go farther.

It’s no exaggeration to say that virtually every golfer on the planet today has benefitted from Karsten’s innovations. Even if you’re not playing PING, you’re playing a descendant of PING technology.

And it can all be traced back to an engineer who never did have an engineering degree, who thought he could make a better putter.

And that, my friends, ansers that.

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

John Barba

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      Chuck J

      11 months ago

      Came across an early Ping Anser at a thrift store a few years back. Of course I had to scoop it up, paid $3.00, only putter I use.

      Reply

      George R. Smith

      2 years ago

      I still own and original Ping Anser that I purchased in 1965. It is stamped on the back with Box 1345, Scottsdale, Ariz. It has the original grip.

      It still sounds great. with the “Ping” sound.

      Reply

      Jerry

      1 year ago

      I have one as well…my dad gave it to me when I got back from Vietnam…still use it. Upgraded the grip to a jumbo…

      Reply

      K. Gill Cole

      2 years ago

      John,
      Thank you a thousand times for the History Lesson on the Man and his “Karsten” Putter Designs! I began playing golf about 60 years ago, playing right-handed with hand-me-down clubs. But, I am genetically a lefty. I played inconsistently for a couple of decades and then quit for the most part for +30 years.

      When I picked the sport up again, about 8 years ago, I bought a cheap Chinese, glow-in -the-dark set and began walking and swinging left-handed, determined to lose +50-75 lbs. of excess or die trying. Needless to say, the game and the swing required a complete do-over. Even so, I’ve lost the weight and have become a decent senior golfer – and am enthusiastically enjoying improving my game and my set of clubs. Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was simply WRONG! Moreover, I go by the idea that putting and scoring is HALF the Game!

      In this quest, I have also amassed a nice little – slowly growing – collection of about 50 putters. These include early blades from Acushnet, Titleist, Tigershark, Slotline, Plop and Wilson, among the many brands. I have a “Grim Reaper,” a couple of differing Bulls Eyes and, also, several assorted and unique mallet styles, Bettinardi, MacGregor, Odyssey, etc., and a handful of modern designs.. I play them all – each one – every now and then. And almost all are lefty putters – but, not all. I even have a few kitchen table designs of my own and they are good.

      But, my favorite classics are the Karsten PING Anser 1-A (have 2) with original grips. These literally sing “PING” like a tuning fork when hit; also a Ping B60, an early Phoenix Anser, a PING Anser X and yes, a slew of variously branded Anser=type designs with low CG and heel-toe momentum weighting. Thank you, Mr. Karsten!

      For my own preferences, in my bag, the very best is a COORS ZrO2 magnesium impregnated graphite-shafted Anser-style full ceramic head 365 gram “lite mallet” blade, made by COORS as giveaways only for their customers over a short span in the mid 1980s. Mine is now dressed with a modern Lamkin grip.

      When I pull this one out and line it up across the slope from 20 feet away, everybody goes dead silent.

      In the process

      Reply

      david bartlett

      2 years ago

      As a repair shop have handled every ping in history at one time or another My current putter and only putter is a very old Beckley Ralston pre 1925 Model 384 Its the only Par.pending Beckley I know of= But I am not a collector

      Reply

      T.J.

      2 years ago

      Several years ago I was playing a PING milled Anser 2, one of the players I was paired with, asked to see my putter, he looked it over and said “Pretty cheap Scotty Cameron Newport 2 copy”, I was very polite and explained how it was the other way, that Cameron had copied the Anser 2. Another member of the foursome also explained it,,,,,

      Reply

      T.J

      2 years ago

      Two funny stories (to me anyway)around 1988, I was having my PING EYE irons adjusted , after the free fitting, I was sitting in an office waiting, I heard a voice tell my wife “they sure are cute”, he was talking about my 4 and 6 year old son, I looked up and there he was Mr. Karsten Solheim himself! He asked me if I was being taken care of, I stuttered “Yes sir!”, he then said if I had any problems to ask for him. He walked by a secretary said good afternoon and walked in his office..

      Reply

      Dave Tutelman

      2 years ago

      Great article! I thought I knew the story, but there was interesting detail here I never heard. As an engineer who plays golf and then did engineering consulting for golf club companies, I have always considered Karsten my hero. And the company is a real class act; you have to take a tour of their Phoenix facility or talk to their clubfitters or craftspeople to fully appreciate that.

      Last year, I stopped at a yard sale where there was a barrel of old golf clubs, mostly putters. I walked away with 7 clubs for $5. Believe it or not, they included:
      *** A modern left-handed Ping Anser, for my lefty son.
      *** An old Ping Anser from around 1970 I think, manganese bronze.
      *** A MacGregor ZT Response.
      That includes two of your four iconic putters.

      Reply

      Derek

      2 years ago

      What about the ping answer that was stamped jack nicklaus and slazenger

      Reply

      John Barba

      2 years ago

      Good question Derek. According to “And The Putter Went…PING_” by Jeffrey Ellis – both Jack and Gary Player were using PING putters in ’66. Player was using an Anser and Jack was using a Cushin. By October their agent, Mark McCormack, sent an unsolicited letter to Karsten proposing a licensing deal for Jack and Gary to distribute PING putters in the UK and South Africa.

      In early ’67, they reached a deal to market Jack Nicklaus PING putters in the UK and Gary Player PING putters in South Africa. The UK deal was through Slazenger – and would feature the Anser, the Cushin and the Kushin (they were different). Ping would sell Slazenger raw PING casting that Slazenger would then finish, and they would have Jack’s name.

      Player would have the exclusive rights to market PING putters in South Africa, Rhodesia, Zambia and Nyasaland. Those would be putters completely finished in the US. If they sold enough, PING would then inscribe Player’s name on the putters. They did.

      Within two years, the Slazenger deal was modified, allowing the company to market PING putters in more than 31 countries and included several additional putter models. .

      Reply

      JimInTruckee

      2 years ago

      Great article recognizing a very talented craftsman and engineer. In the book “:And the putter went … PING” by J. Ellis there is a picture of many putters before and after the ANSER patent expired. Everyone one was a copy after the patent expired.

      Reply

      Chris

      2 years ago

      I wonder how many people have played a PING Anser copy without even knowing it? I have a Lynx Master putter that is direct copy of an Anser 2, down to the cutout behind the face. I love it and it cost 50 bucks. Thanks Karsten for giving back to us cheep golfers!

      Reply

      ChuckH

      2 years ago

      Yep, I am on my 2nd ping putter (though currently using Odyssey arm lock, you can figure out why), and on my 3rd set of Ping irons !

      Reply

      Will

      2 years ago

      Great piece,.it’s nice to read a story of an average guy, who tried to help average golfers. Also that he didn’t try to skin folks with his pricing, – $20 for his putter. Try to find a $20 putter today, impossible. I have a few of his Anser models; believeing that when they started milling the entire face, it did improve them…RIP Karsten & wife….

      Reply

      Gary Ferguson

      2 years ago

      Adjusted for inflation that makes the cost of the putter $175 at today’s prices I think the last model of Anser had a starting RRP of $270 though it may be cheaper now.

      Reply

      Richard Sanchez

      2 years ago

      Great article and I can attest personally to Karsten’s ingenuity. I worked there for 21 years and enjoyed my conversations with Karsten. It is great to see the family continuing what he started.

      Reply

      gary l finn

      2 years ago

      What a GREAT Read !! I Although I dont play them I still have 2 Anser 2’s.

      Reply

      Gary

      2 years ago

      I got my first and only Ping putter when I was a high school golf team member in 1968. It was a It was a Kushin with a dale bend shaft, basically a Anser without the plumbers neck. Used it well into the 1990’s when I started experimenting with newer designs, still own it and every now and then when my latest flat stick needs a time out I clean off the dust and cobwebs its still a winner. John might you know when the Kushin was introduced? When the greens are top dressed and slow the ball jumps of the face quicker with its super hard metal from back in the day. Thanks John for a trip down memory lane.

      Reply

      Dan

      2 years ago

      My second putter was the answer. My first was an Odi Christman wooden shaft. Used the Ping all through high school, haven’t putted that well since. End of story.

      Reply

      KP

      2 years ago

      I still have my first putter from 40 years ago. A Ping Anser. Granted I need to get it reshafted since I cut it down for my son when he started to take up golf at the age of 5. Also had an 1-A but a buddy of mine loved it so much he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. After reading this article it’s time to reshaft that old putter. Thanks John for another great read. It’s much appreciated.

      Reply

      Steven L. Hale Sr.

      2 years ago

      Sorry…I’ve never owned, or have I ever used any Ping products!

      However, I do own, and still use several type clubs that are no longer made:

      An Original set of Tight Lies Irons, and the Original 3 and 5 Fairway Rescue Clubs.

      I also have, and still use an ADAMS Golf Tight Lies 2 Spin Control 10.5* Driver as well!

      To round out my Sunday carry, or pull cart set of clubs, I use a RAM T-Square Putter that I purchased in the early 80’s!

      And they all STILL perform just like they did when I bought them new…Pretty Damn Good!!!

      Reply

      jeff

      2 years ago

      Excellent article – i have often wondered about the patent situation and all the copycats – now I know!!!!

      Reply

      mackdaddy9

      2 years ago

      I bought one of the earliest models and played it for about a month or two.

      I just can’t stand the the look of a plumbers neck at address it always seems to aim to far right so I adjust and miss left.

      Reply

      Benny

      2 years ago

      Mackdaddy – Its probably because you are left eye dominant. This also makes a difference. You would probably do better with little to no offset. So flow neck, double bend or center shaft.

      Reply

      Chris

      2 years ago

      Not currently but have owned and played them on and off for 40 years. Including a becu anser 4. Been playing mostly mallets lately but still got my ping card. Ping driver and irons in the bag. Great company and products

      Reply

      Johnny Tee

      2 years ago

      Fantastic article. I don’t play Ping but have always admired what Karsten and his engineering brought to the game. Both the story plot and style of writing kept me engaged throughout. Deserves a nomination for a Pulitzer!

      Reply

      David Lucero

      2 years ago

      I am an avid golfer ever since I turned 21. I was born on 12-1-1966, almost the same as the Anser. We share a birthday. I thought to myself, why not use the most copied putter in history. It must be pretty good. I originally putted with a Ping Cushin 4, and was pretty good with it. When I decided to try the Anser it was a great fit for me. The most copied putter for a reason. I love my Anser!

      Reply

      Dr G.

      2 years ago

      Great history of his work ethic and family. He was a forty year overnight success!. Good job Louise!

      Reply

      Derek

      2 years ago

      Anser 2 was my first putter in 1984. Still have it and recently gamed it with my Wilson Staff irons and Ping Eye woods. That putter is still money.

      Reply

      Don

      2 years ago

      played the same bullseye for 30 years..had a Ping driver that I really liked..?

      Reply

      Steven

      2 years ago

      A well-done historical article that I thoroughly enjoyed! Never had the Ping Anser in the bag, but I did carry the Scotty Cameron copycat.

      Reply

      Normand Benoit

      2 years ago

      I do have one and the two way putter but this 2 putters are in a collection of 75 putters. Who you be interested in some way to by my collection?

      Reply

      Dude

      2 years ago

      My first ever putter was a Ping G5 Anser. I had it for a year before I traded it for a friend’s Ping G2 Zing. I really wished I still had that Zing though.

      Reply

      Clay

      2 years ago

      Hey, just wanted to repeat something I know has already been said but, I agree this was a great article! It was well written with so many little treasures, just a overall joy to read. Thank you!

      Reply

      Chris Hartman

      2 years ago

      Love these articles John. Keep them coming!

      Reply

      LouM

      2 years ago

      Excellent history, thanks for publishing it. I first tried the PING Anser putter in 1970. I was a starter at Forest Lake CC. One of the members (initials HT) had the putter and his bag was stored in the pro shop. On many a night before closing and sundown I’d slip that putter out of the member’s bag and putt with it for cash on the practice green next to the pro shop. In a matter of a couple weeks I won enough cash to buy my own PING Anser putter. Fwiw, my youngest son started to play golf in 2015. He tested and loved the PING Anser 2. It’s in his bag today.

      Reply

      Dr Tee

      2 years ago

      Fun and enlightening article–played my first ANSER in the late 1960’s which I found in the greenside rough at a junior tournament at Palos Hts CC in Chicago. Left my name, the putter went unclaimed and I still have it, but later drank the Kool-Aid and switched to the similar Cameron Newport Beach “Inspired by David Duval” model which has a crisper feel which I like better on fast greens, still has the slot behind the face, and (at least to my preference) is quieter !!

      Reply

      Charlie Deverna

      2 years ago

      Great Story JB. I have an Anser2 , Pal4 and B60. All redone and looking great.

      Reply

      te

      2 years ago

      My father bought a new Anser in 1967 (he said for $12); the one and only putter he ever used (whereby I’ve went through about 50.). He was one of the best putters I ever knew. He let me have it a couple years before he passed in 2018.

      Reply

      John Barba

      2 years ago

      What a great story TE – and a wonderful way to remember your Dad. Hang on to that putter!

      Reply

      Stan

      2 years ago

      Great article John. When I think of Karsten and what he built, I am so impressed. And what maybe just as impressive, is that the company still carries his spirit and ingenuity today. Cheers Ping!

      Reply

      Bob Greenop

      2 years ago

      I had one back in the late 60s early 70s and it was the best putter I ever used. I bought a Cushin on ebay a year ago and put a new Winn pistol grip on it . I average less than 30 putts a round. I have to WD40 the shaft after every round but worth it. This one is going in the casket with me.

      Reply

      ScottC

      2 years ago

      John, that is one of the best golf articles I have ever read! One man, thinking outside the box, created so much joy for so many, by making golf a bit easier and more fun!

      Thank you for that fabulous article!

      Reply

      Jesse

      2 years ago

      I have a Ping Anser in the bag right now!

      Reply

      Alberto Favila

      2 years ago

      What a great reading, inspiring story about what an avid mind can achieve, money was not his priority, loving what he was doing (while being an employee) was.
      I could not leave my laptop, even for coffee until I finish this story, congratulations John Barba!

      Reply

      John Barba

      2 years ago

      Grazia Alberto!

      Reply

      Walter Bengt Marstrom

      2 years ago

      I was born and raised in Moss, Norway, came to Canada in ’67, and worked for G.E. in Toronto, On. for a time. I bought and still have the (now retired set) of Ping Beryllium Copper irons (#1 – SW). These irons were so good, and the #1 iron was super easy to hit. One player commented;” If I could hit an iron like that, I would never hit a wood.” Ping and Karsten Solheim and family, have influenced the whole of golf, far more than we can realize!

      Reply

      Tom Higgins

      2 years ago

      As an engineer at GE, Karsten spent 3 months in Schenectady working on a projects in the early 60’s. During that time he played at the Edison Club and continued to work on the Ping Anser. I’m told he approached the professional at the other country club in Schenectady, Mohawk Golf club, and that his design was not received so well.. Ironic in that Mohawk was the home of A.F. Knight , a GE engineer and the inventor of the Schenectady Putter. in the 1920’s. This was the putter that Walter Travis used to be the first American to win the British Amateur in 1904. Seems they didn’t like that development in that the R & A banned the design used by Knight’s putter shortly thereafter. It could be argued that the Schenectady Putter should be included in the top 5 of putter design innovations of the 20th century.

      Reply

      Ronan

      2 years ago

      Fantastic Article. Very well done. Thank you.

      Reply

      Bill Garcia

      2 years ago

      Enjoyed the read – thank you and keep up the good work!

      Reply

      Kris Dale

      2 years ago

      Really great article. Makes me want to find an OG anser

      Reply

      Tom Joyce

      2 years ago

      Hey John, Great article! Did Karsten sell the design of the Anser 2 or did the whole world just rip him off? Fairways & Greens, Tommy Joyce

      Reply

      John Barba

      2 years ago

      Hi Tom – As we pointed out, the Design Patent ran out in 1980, and PING didn’t renew it. And according to Rob Griffin, they didn’t defend it all that vigorously before then, either. He’s not sure why.

      Once the patent expired, the design was there for anyone to use, which they did.

      Reply

      Jeremy

      2 years ago

      Super interesting read. I learned so much

      Reply

      RC

      2 years ago

      Nice article. When I saw the email teaser, I was sure this article was going to be about the original Tight Lies! I played the Anser, and that has shaped my idea of what I like ever since. That’s why I played the Scottie Newport for years. The other classic clubs Ping made were the original Ping Eye irons. Those were some of the greatest irons I ever played, and I’m still upset that I traded them years ago.

      Reply

      Walter Hollman

      2 years ago

      I had a Ping Anser 2. Best putter I ever used.

      Reply

      Jack J. Vultaggio Jr.

      2 years ago

      I still play and love my Ping Anser 2 from xmas 1990, shorten from 36 to 34, I’m shrinking ;)

      Reply

      Dan Zimmerman

      2 years ago

      No, I have never owned an Anser or even an Anser knockoff. Switched putters frequently played several bullseye models back in the 1960’s, as well as mallets in my teens and in college. I have tried many face balanced putters in recent years, but keep going back to my original PING Craz-E (model used by Kenny Perry).

      Reply

      MarcB11

      2 years ago

      I have a PING 1-A I bought at an estate sale back in the late 90’s. I bring it out to the putting green at my club occasionally and a crowd will gather because of the big PING sound it makes and the curiosity just grows.

      Reply

      Michael Pittana

      2 years ago

      John -thank you for the terrific piece about Karsten and his innovation that has made the wonderful game of golf ever better. I still use an Anser 5putter ( rare face balanced model) even though from time to time it is exciled to the basement but it always seems to make a successful return visit to the links with me.

      Reply

      TO from Colorado

      2 years ago

      At 67 years old I can still remember the first time I hit a ping iron, a 2 iron that was a Karsten 1 model. I had been using a set of Wilson Staff blades and the shot was about 200 yards into green,. I hit the ball and it went straight on the green and I was blown away. I didn’t think I could afford those clubs at that time. 10 plus sets of pings irons later I can say PING has changed the industry and certainly my golf game. Currently gaming g425 woods and irons and throwback ping zing 2 copper putter. thanks for the article. I still have a set of Karsten 1 irons in mint condition.

      Reply

      Keith Finley

      2 years ago

      I’ve had so many…. favourites include a bronze 020, isoforce, and redwood.

      Reply

      Rick

      2 years ago

      I still have an Anser putter that my dad won back in the late 60s/early 70s. I even had Ping adjust the lie angle on it once.

      Reply

      Chuck

      2 years ago

      Story of Ping putters was interesting, but there was no mention of him being in Scottsdale? I have a Ping putter that says “Scottsdale” right on it…I always thought that he started in Scottsdale before moving the shop to Phoenix?
      What’s the answer please…..Chuck

      Reply

      Bryan

      2 years ago

      I have a strong urge to go out and buy a PING Anser now… thanks John! haha

      Reply

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