Karsten began producing PING B5 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 B5 was not popular at all when it was introduced. The
remaining records from 1959 shows Karsten received a single order for a B5 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 B5 putters were made in 1960, before
Karsten left for Arizona, but production of both grew. The B5 putter,
however, never approached the sales of the 1A and today is far more rare
than a Redwood City 1A.
It was Karsten Solheim whose rise in the second half of
the 20th century reinvented the wheel for all other clubmakers. This B5 putter stamped "Pat. Pend" and "11" (which Karsten's weight measure) is among the rarest clubs he made in Redwood City.
This example has its original shaft and a new "old stock" Golf Pride Informer grip neatly taped at the base of the grip. The head is in clean condition with all marks inside the sole cavity easy to read. The marks on the sole itself are readable and better than many. The molds used to cast the A5 and B5 heads were not the best at creating clear sole marks.
The next to the last picture in this series of images, shows the back of the head. When viewing the area at the base of the top line, some of the original texture of the metal can still be seen. You can also see this same "rough strip" in the first picture. This area like the rest of the head's exterior is usually smooth. 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 stlll relatively 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.
For more on Karsten's Redwood City Putters see And The Putter Went Ping chapter 2.