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Louise Solheim, wife of PING Founder Karsten Solheim, has passed away in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 99. “Today we lost a very special woman who touched and improved the lives of so many,” said John A. Solheim, Karsten and Louise’s youngest son and PING’s Chairman & CEO. “Our mother was a blessing to everyone in so many ways. She had a special quality that gave her the ability to bring a smile to everyone’s face and she handled every situation with grace. We looked to her for guidance in all aspects of our lives and she always took great care to advise us, building our confidence to make decisions ourselves. We will miss her dearly. Our entire family is at peace knowing she’s now in God’s care.”

Louise was a soft-spoken, gracious lady who worked side-by-side with Karsten to build PING into one of the most successful golf equipment companies in the history of the game while raising a family of four children. She chose to remain off stage and left the spotlight to Karsten. She vowed the day she was married to put Karsten’s desires and those of their family ahead of her own. She did it willingly and joyfully without the need for recognition. “I most definitely wanted it this way,” she often said.

“Our mother preferred working behind the scenes,” said Allan D. Solheim, the middle son. “Karsten’s tinkering with putter designs in our garage began as a hobby, but it quickly turned into a thriving business. From the beginning, my mother assumed the administrative side of the business, allowing Karsten to focus on club designs. She was blessed with an incredible memory, which Karsten relied on regularly. Whether it was remembering someone’s name or the specifics of an event, she always had the answer. Together, they made an amazing team that formed the foundation for PING today.”

Despite her desire to maintain a low profile, her countless contributions are widely recognized and deeply engrained in PING’s history. She is credited with naming the most famous putter in golf -- the PING ANSER -- which has been used to win more than 500 professional golf tournaments around the world. Her role in creating the Solheim Cup in 1990 opened the door to bringing women’s professional team golf to a world-wide stage for the players to show off their shot-making skills while competing for the honor of their countries.

Her numerous honors include an Honorary Doctorate degree from Arizona State University (1992), the LPGA’s Commissioner’s Award (1994), Swedish Golf Federation Distinguished Service Award (2003), Arizona Golf Hall of Fame (2004), Arizona State University Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Higher Education (2004), Honorary LPGA member (2005) and Honorary Ladies European Tour member (2011).

“Louise had a keen business sense that she combined with a generous heart,” said Karsten Louis Solheim, the oldest son. “She was guided by the Bible and wanted every action to be pleasing to God. She believed God had been exceptionally good to us and wanted to make sure as a company we gave back. She was especially thoughtful in her administration of the Solheim Foundation. I worked closely with her over the years and she applied a wise and fair approach to the distribution of the funds, always making sure the beneficiary’s values and missions led to the betterment of people’s lives.”  

Born June 6, 1918, in Spokane, Wash., Louise was the only child of John Louis Crozier, a teacher and inventor, and his wife, Nellie, who died of scarlet fever a month after giving birth to Louise. She and Karsten met in 1936 in church and were married that same year. Both devout Christians, they remained active in church throughout their lives. At the time of her passing, Louise was a member of Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix.

An honor student in high school, Louise worked various jobs over the years as she and Karsten moved around the country while he continued his engineering career. In the early 1950s, she worked for Convair (now General Dynamics) in its wind tunnels, calculating and plotting test results for the aerospace engineers. Her title was “Computer.” Shortly after moving to Syracuse in 1954, she took a position with the Eastern Milk Producers Dairy Cooperative, where her job included editing the company newsletter. It turned out to be her favorite job of all. Her last position before PING became a full-time pursuit for her family was assisting John Conlan, a two-term State Senator from Arizona who later became a U.S. Congressman.

Louise was preceded in death by Karsten (February, 2000) and their daughter, Sandra Solheim Aiken (December, 2013). She is survived by her three sons: John A. Solheim, Karsten Manufacturing Corporation Chairman, President & CEO; Allan D. Solheim, retired Karsten Manufacturing Executive Vice President and current board member; and Karsten Louis Solheim, retired Karsten Manufacturing Executive Vice President and current board member. Louise was blessed with 14 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren and 14 great, great grandchildren.  

 

 

 

adidas announced it finally has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its TaylorMade, Adams Golf and Ashworth golf brands. The new owner of the assets is a newly formed affiliate of KPS Capital Partners, LP. The price was US$ 425 million, which is approximately half of 2016’s annual sales of 892 million euros. The funding of the transaction is half in cash and the remainder in a combination of secured note and contingent considerations. The terms and value support the argument that adidas was more than motivated to unload TaylorMade. 

 

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed later in 2017. Once completed, the transaction will trigger adidas to record a non-operational loss in the high-double-digit to low-triple-digit million euro range, which will be reported in discontinued operations as part of the company’s 2017 results. This further supports just how motivated (some could argue desperate) adidas was to wash its hands clean from the golf business.

 

“TaylorMade is a leading global golf brand with an exceptionally strong market position. We would like to thank all TaylorMade employees for their many contributions to our company and wish them all the best for a successful future under their new ownership. At the same time, we welcome all adidas Golf employees who will be integrated into our adidas Heartbeat Sports Business Unit,” said Kasper Rorsted, CEO of adidas AG. 

“Within our long-term strategy ‘Creating the New’, our focus is clearly on our core competencies in footwear and apparel and on our two major brands adidas and Reebok.” 

 

 

 

If Tiger Woods can’t even talk (press conference) what chance does he have to win a tournament anytime soon? Remember this is the guy who said repeatedly he only enters to win. Two weeks after pulling out of a tournament due to back spasms, its still plaguing him? And what we do know is that he flew to LA after flying back from Dubai and then was advised by his doctor to remain horizontal! This doesn’t add up or for that matter pass the smell test? It would seem prudence should intervene and in turn caution prevail. Is it too early to suggest the chances of seeing Woods in Augusta with his golf clubs are remote??? Meanwhile, his agent is on the record as saying, “The goal is to get everything to calm down, have it calm down for a while, continue to get treatment and get back to a place where he's chipping and putting and hitting balls. We're not talking about an extended break.” His body, if we are to believe everything we’re told, would appear to say otherwise!

 

People want it, while others do everything they can to prevent it. Ask anyone who plays and the number one thing they want is more distance off the tee. The motto for the USGA and R&A is to preserve the integrity of the game and the root of that centers around distance. Damned if you do, if you are the stewards of the game and damned if you don’t if you are the equipment manufacturer. In this eternal tug of war, it isn’t too difficult to see which side is really winning the battle.

The governing bodies recently published their annual review of driving distance. According to the organizations, driving distance data was used from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time. 

Key facts noted in the paper include:  

Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2%, around 0.2 yards per year.

• For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5%.

• Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” has not changed – for instance, since 2003 the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.

• The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

When you consider the hundreds and hundreds of new drivers that have been introduced from the manufacturing community from 2003 to 2016, all promising greater distance its startling to think the data categorically refutes the marketing departments claims! Forget about all the times the word innovative has been used to articulate the next game changer being promised from marketing departments. The reality, according to the USGA and R&A DATA, is that simply isn’t the case. What this information supports is the argument that the driver you already own is just as long, if not as good as the one you’re about to buy!

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, stated, “In the interests of good governance and transparency it is important that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf. Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate.” Clearly Slumbers will never be confused for a marketing maven!

The 2016 report can be viewed at usga.org via this link and RandA.org.  

 
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