Solheim Named 2022 PGA Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Solheim is being honored for his decades of work in the golf industry and dedication to the junior game

FRISCO, Texas and PHOENIX, Arizona – John A. Solheim, the Executive Chairman of PING in Phoenix, Arizona, and son of founder Karsten Solheim, has been named the 2022 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient by the PGA of America. 

Solheim will be honored on Wednesday, Nov. 2, as part of the 2022 PGA Annual Meeting at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix. 

Since 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. Among the recipients are three U.S. Presidents (Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton), Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Barbara Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Vince Gill, Bob Hope and Lee Trevino.

One of the game’s true innovators, Solheim, who began working for his father as a teenager in the family garage in 1959, is a renowned inventor and forward thinker. With more than 170 U.S. patents to his name, he has influenced the design of golf clubs and bags across the industry, helping PING become one of the most trusted manufacturers in golf and recognizable names in sports equipment.

“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,” said PGA President Jim Richerson. “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.”

“I’m very appreciative to receive such a prestigious honor from the PGA of America,” said John Solheim. “I’ve been blessed to spend my entire career in the golf industry. 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.”

PING, under Solheim’s watch, has sponsored more than 50 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournaments and created thousands of playing opportunities for juniors. In 2002, Solheim personally created the PING Junior Solheim Cup for girls ages 12-18, modeled after the Solheim Cup, which was founded by Solheim’s parents in 1990. PING is also a supporting partner of PGA Jr. League, which provides an introduction to the game for kids 17 and under in a fun team environment.

Under Solheim’s leadership, PING expanded its club fitting services for physically challenged golfers. He’s advanced that further by integrating those efforts into physical rehabilitation for wounded and disabled Veterans, ensuring they can enjoy the game.

Solheim and PING also collaborated with Bubba Watson to raise funds for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, leading to the development of the Bubba Watson and PING Golf Motion Analysis Lab—which uses state-of-the-art equipment to measure real 3D motion, force and muscular activity to develop personalized care plans for children with orthopedic and neurological conditions.

As a company, PING has flourished under Solheim’s leadership. It became the first club manufacturer to be ISO certified, a distinction given to companies that meet a set of established quality standards to meet and exceed customer and stakeholder needs. 

PING is also a founding member of the United States Golf Manufacturers Council, which works with governmental agencies on international trade matters and anti-counterfeiting efforts. The USGMC also works with golf’s ruling bodies to improve upon the equipment rule making process.

“To lead today requires unbelievable research in every category, and I promise we won’t stop,” said Solheim. “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.

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