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Ping releases Anser Patent 55 commemorative putters based on original design

The release today of 55 collectors’ item Ping Anser putters is billed as a celebration of the 55th anniversary of when the patent was granted for the iconic plumber’s neck, heel-toe weighted cavity-back blade.

It also can be seen as a reminder of where the shape that now exists in nearly every company’s putter lineup originated. Specifically, in a Scottsdale, Ariz., garage from a sketch made on an album jacket more than half a century ago by a part-time club designer and full-time engineer at General Electric.

Now the company founded by late World Golf Hall of Famer Karsten Solheim and still run by his family is honoring the putter’s original design with a series of special collectible versions of the famous putter. The first installment of the “Anser Patent 55” models (there will be four throughout the year) will go on sale Monday at 2 p.m. (EDT) through the company’s Putting Lab Design Limited website, pingpld.com ($790, with a limit of one per customer). The first version will feature only 55 of the precision-milled, handcrafted putters, made in the U.S. of aluminum bronze, just like some of those first models. The very originals were first made of brass but dinged up too easily, or so goes a story of an early interaction with Arnold Palmer and the Anser.

Designed by Solheim in 1966, it won its first tour event in 1966 and George Archer won the 1969 Masters with it. The success of this one design dramatically changed the trajectory of Solheim’s company, eventually leading to a move out of the family’s Scottsdale garage and into a small building in north Phoenix that still sits on the company’s 50-acre facility.

The patent expired in 1984, and copies, or more precisely legitimate variations on the Anser’s original theme, have flowed from all corners of the industry since. According to the company, more than 700 Anser victories are represented in the company’s famous Gold Putter Vault, including 20 majors.

And why no W in the name? Karsten’s wife, Louise, suggested dropping the silent letter when Karsten was having a hard time fitting the agreed-upon perfect name in the putter’s back bumper.

“A lot of time has passed since the invention of the Anser putter,” said John A. Solheim, Ping’s chairman and CEO and the youngest son of Karsten and Louise Solheim. He helped build some of the first Ansers back in the beginning and continued for years before eventually rising to run the company. “We think it’s important to remind the golf industry and some of the younger golfers that the familiar putter design they see with other brands’ name on it was created by Karsten in his garage in the mid-1960s. We’re flattered that the design has had such a significant influence on putter design for the last 55 years and we think this a great time to celebrate its continuing success.”

The three other Anser Patent 55 launches include a machined stainless-steel version in June, a patina-finished carbon-steel model in September and final stainless-steel version with a yet-to-be-determined finish in December.