Looking at it from the outside, the building on West Peoria Avenue looks like any other big building. Its tan facade is about as nondescript as you could find in such a place, yet it hides a secret. In fact, it hides as many as 2,800.
Once you pass through the entrance, you find yourself in a small study facing a security door. You then wonder what could be so valuable about it, in just another apartment building. Then you go through the security door and stand in front of the Fort Knox of golf: a collection of gold-plated putters.
What is such a treasure doing here and who does it belong to?
A room full of victories
The vault belongs to PING, a manufacturer of high-quality golf equipment. Their motto is “For those who want to play their best,” and this room seems to be the embodiment of that, in more ways than one.
It all began in the 1970s, when founder Karsten Solheim was at the helm of the company. For him, golf is much more than a job or a source of money: it is a real passion. He follows all PGA Tour events with his heart in his throat and admires those who can reach the heights, earning the top spot. He admires them so much that he would like to honor their victories in some way.
This is how the first gold putters in the collection were born. Solheim has two perfect copies made of the putter of each winner of a Major or PGA Tour event. Unlike the originals, however, these putters are gold-plated and bear both the name of the winner and the name of the tournament won. One putter is donated to the champion in question, while the other remains in the PING collection.
More than 50 years after this tradition began, the vault now has more than 2,800 collectibles.
Putter increasingly golden and increasingly valuable
A gold-plated putter is downright valuable in itself, as evidenced by the
Honma Beres sets
we have already mentioned. For 30 years, then, Karsten Solheim has been giving little treasures to anyone who proves himself on the world’s most important greens.
In 1995, his son Solheim succeeded him at the helm of the company and decided to change what had become a tradition. Putters stored in the PING facility remain gold-plated. Instead, putters given to golfers become solid gold, thus even more valuable than before.
It is estimated that each putter weighs about 11 kg and is worth roughly $30,000. Each piece is practically a little treasure, so much so that PING’s golden putters have become a story with an almost legendary flavor. They are something that makes the many little champions of tomorrow daydream, who already imagine their names etched in gold.
The most beautiful victory
There are 2,800 victories in the vault on West Peoria Avenue, but not all of them were achieved on the golf course. Among the many names of those who have won this or that tournament, there are also those who have distinguished themselves for other reasons.
It is 2013,Hunter Mahan is participating in theRBC Canadian Open, in Glen Abbey. It would be wrong to say that he has victory in the bag: golf can always hold great surprises. However, the first two rounds are a success and the third round is also going very well. He does not have victory in his pocket, but he is definitely the favorite. If it goes on like this, the title is his.
Suddenly, a call comes in: his wife is in labor. Mahan leaves the race and likely victory, flies to his wife and incoming daughter. He thus loses the prize but is able to witness the birth of his baby Zoe Olivia. Patience: he will win another year.
A few months later, PING lets him know that they have something for him: it is a gold putter, the same one he would have used to win. Only his name is not on it. On the head is the name of her baby, accompanied by the date of birth.
Because the most beautiful victories are not always the ones on the green.