Ping chairman John A. Solheim earns top honor from PGA of America

Ping Chairman John A. Solheim poses for a portrait.

John A. Solheim was awarded the 2022 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient by the PGA of America for his contributions to golf.

PGA of America

The legendary Solheim family is adding to its legacy.

John A. Solheim, Ping’s executive chairman and son of founder Karsten Solheim, was named the PGA of America’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipient.

In a press release, the PGA of America said, “the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.”

The award was conceived in 1988 and its recipients include three former U.S. Presidents (Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton). The most recent recipient was Barbara Nicklaus in 2019 and the last golf-equipment executive to earn the honor was former Acushnet president and CEO Wally Uihlein in 2005.

“I’ve been blessed to spend my entire career in the golf industry,” Solheim said in the release. “It’s allowed us to continue building a family business, which is very enjoyable for me to now guide our strong third generation in their leadership positions and still allow me to do what I enjoy most, design and develop future products.

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“To lead today requires unbelievable research in every category, and I promise we won’t stop. Much of our success is directly related to our relationships with the PGA Professionals who have represented and helped promote our products for more than 60 years.

“Early on, my father, Karsten, recognized that the PGA’s role and expertise would have a big influence in custom fitting our clubs to help golfers play better, and enjoy the game more. To be recognized by the PGA is especially meaningful and one of the biggest highlights of my career.”

Solheim got his start in the golf industry working for his father in the family’s garage in 1959. He went on to become one of the game’s most renowned inventors, filing more than 170 U.S. patents in his name.

Under his leadership, Ping became the first clubmaker to become ISO certified. He also expanded Ping’s club fitting offerings for physically challenged golfers, including rehabilitation efforts for wounded and disabled veterans.

Solheim created the Ping Junior Solheim Cup, modeled after the event his parents started in 1990, for girls ages 12 to 18.

“John Solheim has set an industry standard for how a golf company should run, and his love and dedication for creating the highest quality products has elevated the bar for all equipment manufacturers,” PGA President Jim Richerson said in the release. “But what is truly admirable about John, and what speaks to his character, is his commitment to growing golf through youth participation and helping physically challenged adults, children and military Veterans discover a love for the game.”

Solheim’s oldest son, John K., became the president of Ping in 2016.

John A. will be presented with the award Nov. 2 at the PGA of America’s Annual Meeting.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at