Karsten Solheim was many things to many people. Throughout the
golf industry he was known as an old-fashioned guy who
stubbornly defended his beliefs and innovations. One of his
favorite lines was, "Just try it." To his close friends Karsten
was a brilliant man with a giant-sized heart who operated his
business and conducted his life according to the tenets of the
Karsten's relentless pursuit of perfection revolutionized
clubmaking. He built clubs of such quality that he forced the
rest of the industry to upgrade its standards. It's no
coincidence that the boom in golf equipment started about a
decade after Karsten founded Ping.
In the late 1980s I agreed to stand with Karsten against the PGA
Tour's proposed ban on square-grooved irons. Karsten couldn't
understand how somebody could declare a club nonconforming even
though it conformed to the Rules of Golf. Both sides paid a
heavy price during the three-year court battle, but Karsten was
pleased with the outcome of the ensuing settlement. The fight,
however, wore him down emotionally and physically.
Karsten happily gave of himself so people could enjoy not only
his clubs but also those made by rival manufacturers. He is one
of the best friends golfers around the world ever had. I will
miss him dearly.