Ping Chairman John Solheim as always been on the equipment industry’s more forward thinkers – a trait he no doubt inherited from his father, the late Karsten Solheim. Karsten Solheim essentially “invented” perimeter weighting golf clubs, which forever changed the way clubs were designed.
John Solheim, anticipating further restrictions of golf clubs from the USGA and R&A, has applied for a patent that uses an equipment rating formula as a factor in calculating a golfer’s handicap. The pursuit of the patent, according to Solheim, is to ensure amateur golfers who want more options in playing the game have another choice allowing them to do so in a globally available format.
“The tone coming from the USGA and R&A in recent years suggests another significant equipment rollback may not be far away,” said Solheim, who applied for the patent in June of 2011. “We’ve already seen it with the groove rule and the proposed rule banning anchoring. We continue to hear whispers of more changes. But as we’re also reading on the proposed anchoring ban, many directly involved in the game favor more equipment options, not fewer. I’m looking for ways to keep the game enjoyable for every level of golfer.”
The patent application is expected to be published December 20, 2012 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov). It details numerous scenarios in which equipment could be rated (balls that go varying distances, for example) and are also factored in with current variables, such as the challenge presented by each individual course.
Solheim suggests the expanded equipment options could be approved as “Conditions of Competition” so the new method of handicapping could exist within the current set of rules.
“One of the goals of this concept is to get people thinking outside the “traditional” box that seems to have been built around golf – due primarily to the influence of the professional game,” said Solheim. “This alternative approach to handicapping gives golfers the options to play and enjoy the game with the goal of keeping one set of rules. All of us who are part of this industry need to be looking forward to ensure the game grows in both appeal and participation. This is just one example of things we should be considering.”