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Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame

About H.O.F.
2024 Inductee

Karsten Solheim


Frustration fueled Karsten Solheim’s innovation of golf equipment. Solheim, who passed away in 2000, didn’t start playing golf until he was 42 but he immediately fell in love with the sport. Golf became a love-hate relationship with his struggle to improve his game (he achieved a low handicap of 5) so he began looking to use his engineering skills to design clubs and enhance the game.

A putter developed in his garage that made a distinctive “ping” sound was just the beginning as he founded Karsten Manufacturing and began production of PING Golf Equipment. PING revolutionized the sport for weekend duffers to professionals pursuing a big paycheck on Sundays.

Professional golfers such as Bob Gilder, Babe Hiskey and Mary Bea Porter-King experienced championship success and spread the gospel of using Solheim’s PING clubs. Solheim’s products were made with the highest standards to make the sport easier for everyone.

Solheim was born in Norway and he was 2 years old when his family moved to Seattle. In 1953 he joined General Electric as a mechanical engineer and helped design the “rabbit ears” antenna on GE’s first portable TVs. Once he founded his manufacturing company he turned his focus to golf and altering the blade putter made famous by the legendary Arnold Palmer in the 1960s. Solheim was looking for a name for the putter and his wife Louise suggested using the word answer without the letter W. The “Anser” putter became the most popular in the game.

His PING Eye2 irons became the dominant irons on the pro tour in the 1980s and he sponsored the Solheim Cup, which is the women’s version of the Ryder Cup. He won numerous honors and awards as he was twice a guest at the White House, received the Patty Berg Award for contributions to women’s golf (1991), received the Ernie Sabayrac Award from PGA of America for lifetime contributions to the golf industry (1996) and is a member of the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame. He is also the only golf equipment manufacturer in the World Golf of Fame, as he was inducted posthumously in 2001.

His sons John, Allan and Karsten Louis all worked for the company and his daughter Sandra was a sales rep in South Dakota.

Please note: This biography was produced from the nominating materials in the candidate’s nominating year, so the information is not current.

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