2002: Business - Ping celebrates 30 years of its color-code concept

At the Masters in April, two men approached Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim as he stood near the Augusta National clubhouse. One of the men said, “I’m blue, he’s green.”

No, they weren’t from another planet and, no, they didn’t have blue skin or green skin.

The man was referring to the famous Ping color-code system, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In 1972, Ping founder Karsten Solheim began using colored dots on his K1 irons to indicate lie angle. The dots were an immediate success and have been a fixture on Ping irons since.

Now, in the latest expansion of the color-code scheme, Ping putters with colored dots in the back cavity are starting to show up in golf retail shops. Following the same theme, these colored dots indicate lie angle.

The 10 color codes for putters are the same as those for irons: black is standard, blue is 1 degree upright, green is 2 degrees upright, white is 3 degrees upright, silver is 4 degrees upright, maroon is 5 degrees upright, red is 1 degree flat, orange is 2 degrees flat, brown is 3 degrees flat and gold is 4 degrees flat.

John Solheim, greatly amused by the unique introduction of the blue man and the green man, recalled that the first dots actually were hand-drilled into the iron blade and then hand-painted.

The dots are now a product of the casting process, although the colors still are applied by hand.

When Karsten Solheim devised the color code, he had seven colors. Those seven have not changed for 30 years, although three new colors were later added (for 4 degrees upright, 5 degrees upright and 4 degrees flat).

John Solheim was quick to point out that “a golfer using a particular color with his irons doesn’t necessarily need the same color with his putter.”

Rather, the color code for putters is designed to make it easier for anyone to find a putter that fits perfectly. After a golfer determines the proper length and color for a Ping putter, the searching or ordering process is simplified.

Ping is the only golf equipment manufacturer to use this color-code system.

“It takes a real commitment on our part,” Solheim said, “but we feel it’s an indispensable part of making quality golf clubs.”

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