What began as a way of saying thank you has grown into perhaps the most valuable collection of putters in the world.
In the 1970's, Karsten Solheim was looking for a unique way to thank and reward the professional for using a PING putter en route to victory. He decided to commemorate each victory by creating two gold-plated replicas of the winning putter. One he gave to the champion. The other he kept at the company's Phoenix, Arizona headquarters. Both were engraved with the professional's name and the name of the tournament he or she won.
He didn't know it at the time, but he was in the process of creating golf's version of Fort Knox. As more professionals continued to win with PING putters, his collection quickly grew, requiring several moves into increasingly larger rooms.
There are now more than 2,800 putters in what is referred to as "The Gold Putter Vault". The oldest belongs to John Barnum, who won the 1962 Cajun Classic with a model 69. The collection includes putters from 57 major championships, including all four majors in 1988. The PING Anser occupies the most space in the vault, with more than 500 wins to its credit.
You'll even find a few gold-plated wedges in the collection. They include the 52-degree Tour W wedge Bubba Watson relied on for a miraculous recovery shot on the decisive hole in winning the 2012 Masters. There’s also a replica of the Eye2 sand wedge used to win the 1986 PGA Championship with a dramatic hole-out from the greenside bunker.
New putters are added to the collection almost weekly. So the next time you see a PING putter in the hands of a champion on TV, know that the PING Gold Putter Vault will be making room for a new addition.