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John K. Solheim of Ping Golf at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show

While at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show, we visited with Ping Golf President John K. Solheim.  John discussed the new line of i200 irons, Glide 2.0 wedges and what’s coming soon from Ping.

Tom Brassell:  2017 PGA Merchandise show take two with John K. Solheim. Inside joke, but great having you here John, great to be with you.

John K. Solheim: Yeah, it’s great to be here Tom. As always, I’m excited about the show and also worn out at the same time.

Tom Brassell:  We’ll try not to worry. Ping, the company, talk about that.

John K. Solheim: Just at the beginning of the year, I’ve been promoted to the president. I have very big shoes to fill, Doug Hopkin, our past president, retired. He did a great job for us for many years so I see my primary role coming in here is to not mess things up. We’ve got a great legacy at Ping, and just to keep that going.

Tom Brassell: Yeah, a lot of family members inside the company too. Just a few of those, share some of those that are involved with you.

John K. Solheim: Obviously, my dad. He’s still the CEO, he’s still heavily involved. I’ve got two brothers, they both work at the company. Andy just got on the soft goods side of the business, or he is. He heads up our new apparel line as well as golf bags and the various soft accessories we do. Apparel is a big challenge for us, we’re new to that. We bought the company that was doing our licensing in Europe a couple years ago, so we’ve been doing it in Europe for a while. We just recently brought it to the US, so it’s basically a start up for us.

My brother David, he’s the youngest one. He’s involved with our fitting, our fitting technologies. He also deals with our software development, so the apps like iPing, the new watch app that I’ve got, he does all that stuff as well as our education down at accounts and stuff, educating them on the new product so people, when they go into the stores, they know what they’re buying.

Tom Brassell:  I-200, as far as clubs coming out, brand new, and they’re lining up for it. Especially inside your headquarters so I’m told, right?

John K. Solheim: Yeah, to me that’s a great metric is how excited the engineers are to switch over in what they’re playing and they’re lining up to play the I-200. It’s a great balance of what I’ve seen because we’ve got some great players of that iBlade product as well as the G product. It’s very forgiving, it’s actually got a thin face and gets a lot of ball speed, so that makes it similar to the G product so people can hit it far. The nice thing with that increased ball speed, it actually gives it an effective higher MOI, so it makes the club even more forgiving. Then going towards the iBlade, it’s a small profile club, it’s very workable, you can hit it right, you can hit it left, you can hit it high, you can hit it low, so they can really dial in every golf shot.

Tom Brassell:  New wedges with the Glide 2.0 and also some new putters right?

John K. Solheim:Yep. I’ll start with Sigma G this time around. I didn’t talk about that at our first take. Our Sigma G putters, our great new putter line. We’ve lost market share in putters, we want to get it back and we see the Sigma G as the way to do it. It’s great technology. With us it’s always technology first. We’ve got some traditional designs in there and new designs. The insert is the main technology driver. It features our true world face technology that we’ve had in the past but a new way to apply it similar to what the Vault putters have, but this is an insert with a P-backs back material. What we found with the P-backs is it gives that feel that golfers are looking for. Just about everybody that hits it just loves the feel coming off of there. It’s the same with the I-200, it all comes back to feel, so if you get the feel right and the performance, that’s how you get a winner.

Tom Brassell:                       Real quick on the Glide 2.0.

John K. Solheim:  Glide 2.0, the big story there is our new grooves. On the higher lofted wedges, 58 and 60, we’ve actually added two more grooves. We put them closer together, we made the side walls less steep but really tighten the radius’s up at the face so they’re the sharpest grooves we’ve ever had. The performance is better than the 2010/pre-2010 grooves because of the new rule so our tour players have all switched over to that. We actually found that that doesn’t necessarily work on the 56 through the 50 degrees, so they have a different groove configuration to maximize spin on those clubs.

Tom Brassell: John, final question. The importance of fitting. Ping has always been known for custom fitting, but if somebody’s going to invest some money in clubs today, the importance of getting custom fit.

John K. Solheim: All the technology I’ve just talked about in our drivers and our irons, if you don’t take the time to get fit, you’re really not taking advantage of that. I would say our clubs work really good right out of the box, but if you go in and get the loft right, the shaft right on your driver, that’s when you see 20 yards gain. If you get the line, go right on your irons, get the shaft right, that’s when you see more greens and scores going down. Fitting, to me, is still the best technology out there in golf.

Tom Brassell: John, thanks so much for the time. Thanks for the extra time we spent today. Awesome, great talking with you, thanks.

John K. Solheim: Let’s do it again.