Louise Solheim, wife of late Ping founder, dies at 99

Louise Solheim, wife of late Ping founder, dies at 99

LPGA Tour

Louise Solheim, wife of late Ping founder, dies at 99

Louise Solheim, the wife of late Ping founder Karsten Solheim, died Friday morning in Phoenix at the age of 99, according to Ping.

“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, one of their four children and Ping’s Chairman and 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 Solheim played a prominent role in the creation of both Ping and the Solheim Cup, the biennial women’s match-play event between the U.S. and Europe.

“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.”

A cause of death was not provided. Karsten Solheim died in 2000, and the couple’s only daughter, Sandra Solheim Aiken, died in 2013.

Angela Stanford has played with Ping irons since she was a sophomore in high school. She signed with Ping in 2001 as soon as she got her LPGA card. She has five wins on the LPGA.

“The Solheim family has supported not only golf, but women’s golf more than any other family in golf I think,” Stanford said. “I don’t think the LPGA would be where they are without Ping and the Solheim family. I think because of Louise, she was the reason Karsten maybe pushed for women. I think she was a driving force there, that’s just my opinion. For me, they have treated me like family. It is about their slogan – “Play Your Best” – but they care about you as a person first.

“For me, to hear that she has passed away, it’s like losing a member of the family.”

Here are some of Louise Solheim’s other accomplishments, via the Ladies European Tour:

  • She is credited with naming one of the most famous of all Karsten’s putters, the Anser.
  • Louise prepared the company’s early legal contracts by studying other similar contracts and enrolled in a Seminar on Foreign Trade at Arizona State University so she could process customer orders.
  • Louise served on the Arizona District Export Council for six years from 1978 to 1984 and was the first woman to serve on the council.
  • In 1992, Louise received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Arizona State University. It is one of her prized honors because Louise always wanted to go to college and get her degree. Circumstances curtailed her wish to attend the University of Washington where she enrolled at the age of 17.
  • A gracious and always tactful woman, she has dined with numerous dignitaries and elected officials and visited the Oval Office of the White House with the victorious 1994 Solheim Cup Team. She has always been a true ambassador of golf for the state of Arizona.
  • Louise and Karsten were recipients of the LPGA Tour Commissioner’s Award. This award is presented to a person who has contributed uniquely to the LPGA and its members and who has furthered the cause of women’s golf.
  • In 2001, Louise was recognized by the Standard Register PING Board of Governors, who voted her the recipient of the Linda Vollstedt Award for Service and Leadership in Women’s Sports.
  • In 2003 Louise was the recipient of the very rare Distinguished Service Award from the Swedish Golf Federation. It is the highest award within the Federation and has only been presented twice before in the SGF’s 100-year history.
  • In 2004 at a civic luncheon, the Arizona Board of Regents honored Louise with the Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Higher Education.

– Beth Ann Nichols contributed to this report. Information from LPGA and LET was also used.

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