PING founder, the late Karsten Solheim has been named the first-ever recipient of the GCAA Lifetime Achievement Award by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
The award was created by the association to honor special individuals who have made outstanding contributions to collegiate golf and its student-athletes. Presentation of the award will be made at the GCAA National Awards Dinner on Wednesday, January 23 at the Sheraton World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Solheim will also become an honorary member of the GCAA Hall of Fame. He will become the 69th member of the institution, and the first non-coach to be honored.
"Karsten Solheim greatly impacted the game of golf," said GCAA President and Colorado Head Coach, Mark Simpson. "The GCAA is proud to honor he and his family for their countless efforts to better the game."
Representatives of the Solheim family will be in attendance to receive the award. Karsten Solheim passed away February 16, 2000 from complications resulting from progressive Parkinson's disease at age 88.
Solheim is most noted for his innovative design of golf clubs. His uniquely-designed original putter (circa 1959) was crafted in his Redwood City, Calif. home garage. Sohleim continued to develop the putter through the 1960's, while he worked as an engineer for General Electric.
In 1966 Solheim developed the PING Anser putter, and his business soared. This resulted in Solheim leaving GE to pursue the golf industry full-time. In July, 1967, he incorporated as Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, and soon PING putters were being used by professionals and amateurs around the globe. Eventually, in the 1980's, Solheim's PING EYE2 model irons became the top-selling golf clubs in history.
"Karsten was a pioneer in support of college golf programs across the country through the development of PING's collegiate program," said GCAA executive director and longtime Lamar and Oklahoma coach, Gregg Grost. "It would be hard to imagine a college tournament today without the rainbow of colors of PING golf bags with kickstands or PING putters, irons and woods."
Over the years, an important business principle for Solheim was giving back to the game that meant so much to his family. He made major contributions to many organizations, including the Karsten Laboratory for Turfgrass Research at the University of Arizona, the Karsten Golf Course at Arizona State University and the Karsten Creek Golf Course at Oklahoma State University.