Solheim optimistic after USGA, R&A meeting
Ping CEO John Solheim, normally a quiet and thoughtful man, was positively effervescent the day after the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A met with golf equipment manufacturers in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“I thought it was exceptional,” Solheim said Wednesday. “I couldn’t believe how well it went. The openness was really good – on both sides. In fact, in all the times we’ve met with the USGA and R&A, I’ve never seen this kind of openness. It was remarkable.”
Solheim had high praise for the U.S. Golf Manufacturers Council, formed this year to facilitate communication with the ruling bodies.
The USGA provided a list of topics in advance, and USGMC members met prior to the session to formulate their positions and decide who would present them.
On each topic, the USGMC response was presented by a different individual from a different golf equipment manufacturer.
“Outstanding,” said Solheim, whose son and heir apparent, John K. Solheim, did most of the talking for Ping.
Solheim credited two attorneys, Steve McCracken of Callaway and Joe Nauman of Acushnet (Titleist), with the most forceful comments during the one-day session.
“I think the USGA and R & A were kind of shocked at the transparency that all the manufacturers wanted,” Solheim observed. “I’m not talking about individual products, which should be treated with confidentiality. What I’m talking about is research and testing and things in general. We want transparency. That came across louder than they expected.”
Solheim is a veteran of Ping’s square-groove confrontation with the USGA and PGA Tour. Even though that prolonged showdown was settled in favor of Ping, Solheim wants to avoid such legal tug-of-wars.
Thus he endorsed more meetings in the future.
“If we get all of us working together rather than battling each other,” he said, “it’s going to help help a lot. I am very optimistic.”