Conflict management was necessary as I took strokes in the PING Canada office on the border between Mississauga and Oakville, Ont., last week under the watchful eye of Bob Elliot, who had attached his iPhone to the shaft for a demo of the new iPING putter app.
That download, which you can read about by clicking here or see more here, indicated that I had a strong arc with a greater degree of face rotation than other stroke types, so the idea was to deal with that through proper putter selection and fitting.
Bob and I were dealing with that, but at the same time, it became a bit of a personal putting contest with each shot dedicated to beating the previous one on the practice putting green in various categories inside the PING office in Canada.
From what the folks at head office are telling me, PING engineers in the steamy Arizona desert have a secret leaderboard set up for such contests, all in the name of testing, they insist. The idea is, of course, to make the iPING work in several ways for both consumers and the golf industry.
“It’s definitely a fitting apparatus,” said PING chairman and chief executive officer John Solheim.
“It’s definitely a training apparatus and you can make games out of it, trade (information) with your buddies on how you’re doing, so you can have a contest with them to see who’s putting better,” he added.
“The accounts that we’ve showed it to, the big ones and the littles ones, are blown away by it,” said Solheim.
The response isn’t exclusive to golf. Google iPING and you’ll see a number of tekkie sites have also taken a look at it as it continues to reach accounts this week.
Now over 50 years old, PING hasn’t settled into old ways and continues into uncharted territories, while keeping its emphasis on fitting, both with traditional means and with new technology such as the nFlight software it introduced three years ago.
Many of the people that worked on nFlight were behind iPING and approached Solheim back in the spring.
“The guys saw it, worked out a rough program, they showed it to me and it was a no-brainer,” said Solheim.
“Get moving,” was his response.
“I put them on full steam and here we are. I told them I wanted it out in two months. As soon as I saw it, we had to get it done,” he added.
Solheim’s haste was based on several factors, one being that putters often takes a back burner position against drivers and irons when it comes to fitting, so an easy-to-use device for the industry was one of the motivations for PING, which places such an premium on fitting.
The ability of iPING to transcend the industry and consumer sides of the business as a training and entertainment device was another motivation.
“I think the curious will discover they have to have it,” said Solheim.
“There’s so much it does for you besides telling which stroke you have and recommending what putter you need. It also tells you how repeatable you are in multiple things, It’s a home run for everybody,” he added.
“The thing about it too is that some people will change from day to day on how they’re stroking it and they’ll be able to put it on the putting green when they’re warming up and just see where they are,” said Solheim.
The cradles are just starting to arrive at retailers and at about $30, Solheim sees the iPING with its free download not only attracting hardcore golfers with its affordability and multiple uses, but also introducing the game to new golfers through friendly office putting competitions.
“We’re at the starting point with this. There’s so much more we can to with this thing,” he added, without divulging details.
“The Apple guys are thinking way ahead when they put this type of equipment in the phones because they’re a leader too and you can see why,” said Solheim.