Karsten began producing PING A5 putters by August 12, 1959. PING still
has an order of that date that requests both an A5 and B5. Company records also show
that the A5 was not popular at all when it was introduced. The
remaining records from 1959 shows Karsten received a single order for a A5 as opposed to 427 orders for the 1A (And the Putter Went Ping
p 47-49). These numbers are best viewed as approximations. PING today
does not know if there were any other orders that year. It is not known
how many Redwood City 1A and A5 putters were made in 1960, before
Karsten left for Arizona, but production of both grew. The A5 putter,
however, never approached the sales of the 1A and today is far more rare
than a Redwood City 1A.
This Ping A5 Redwood City putter has its original shaft and original green Golf Pride
Informer grip with grip collar. The head is in clean
condition with all marks inside the sole cavity easy to read. The "Pat. Pend" and "A5" on the sole is all there despite the fact that the molds used to
cast the A5 and B5 heads were not the best at creating clear sole
marks. Also marked on the sole is a tiny number "12" which was which Karsten's weight measure.
All manganese bronze heads,
which this putter head is, needed to be hand ground on a grinding
machine, to smooth out the corners and various edges and areas of the
metal after coming out of the mold. The only person to do this to a
Redwood City PING putter was, in the vast majority of cases, Karsten.
His son John did a little of this kind of work while in Redwood City,
but not much as he was young, attending junior high. So
it was either Karsten who ground this head or his son John, the current
CEO of Ping. Either way, it was a legendary clubmaker who did the
work. Of course than can be said for the rest of this club as
well—either Karsten or John or both made it—as it was produced after
Allen Solheim had left home for boot camp in mid 1959.
The shaft has a double bend near the head. This is a very meaning
full element of this club. According to John Solheim, only Karsten
crafted the shaft bend on every single Redwood City putter that has one.
That was a job that not only had to be done with great skill, so the
club would set up to the ball exactly as Karsten specified, but also
required quite a balancing act of heating the shaft enough to bend it
but no too much to scar or ruin it. Of course Karsten worked on the vast
majority of the PING redwood city putters, as the only clubmaking help
Karsten had was his son John, who was in 8th and 9th grade when in
Redwood city, and his son Allan, who helped primarily by making and
installing the leather wrapped grips and only did so until he graduated
from high school in 1959, when he left for Marine Reserve boot camp.
So, while Karsten did work on the vast majority of the Redwood city putters that remain, collectors now know
that the shaft bend was hand-crafted by the greatest clubmaking genius
the game has ever seen. It was Karsten whose rise in the second half of
the 20th century reinvented the wheel for all other clubmakers.
For more on Karsten's Redwood City Putters see And The Putter Went Ping chapter 2.