The founder of Karsten Manufacturing and the creator of the Ping golf clubs and putters, Solheim pioneered perimeter-weighted irons used extensively around the world by millions of golfers. And his putters have been used to win over 1,800 professional tournaments around the world. Solheim was also institutional in giving Women's golf an international presence by sponsoring the Solheim Cup, the Ladies equivalent of the Ryder Cup, due to be played this year at Loch Lomond.
"He paved the way for all of us," said Ely Callaway, founder of Callaway Golf, one of Ping's biggest competitors. "He was a great pioneer. He designed the first clubs that varied from conventional golf club design. He changed it all, and we give him a lot of credit for that."
Solheim stepped down as president and CEO of Karsten Manufacturing in 1995 and was succeeded by his son, John. He had been confined to a wheelchair in recent years because of Parkinson's disease.
"It's unlikely there will be another era in the golf industry like Karsten Solheim's last 40 years," said Sandy Jones, PGA Chairman. "His dream was to build a better golf club so that golfers could enjoy the game. He more than fulfilled that dream and made the game of golf fun for millions."