When PING Putting Lab Design (PLD) models began showing up on the PGA Tour in 2016 it signalled the beginning of a new era for PING putters.
The mandate was clear: Get more PING staff players and non-staff professionals worldwide using and winning with PING putters.
That meant elevating its finely milled performance offerings to a new level.
What it also meant was finding out precisely what it was the players wanted and expected from a PING putter.
To do that the company sent Tony Serrano, senior design engineer, out to spend time with PGA Tour players and, just as importantly, their short game coaches, to get their feedback and opinions and add it into the creative process.
The end result was PLD and it’s worked out pretty well for PING since then.
The franchise now accounts for 60 per cent of the Phoenix company’s putters on the PGA Tour; 75 per cent on the LPGA Tour; 55 per cent on the DP World Tour in Europe and 50 per cent on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“All of our PING staff players play a PING putter and PLD has been a major factor,” said Ryan Stokke, PING’s director of product design, during a call last week with Canadian media. “It’s about them having full of confidence and relying on the putters we make to help them play their best.”
Social media, of course, meant more eyes on PLD than just tour players.
When images of Tony Finau, Cameron Champ and more recently Viktor Hovland’s machine milled PLD prototypes started making the rounds so did a steady stream of inquiries to PING about consumer availability.
Those questions were answered this week.
Announced Monday was a new Putting Lab Design program designed to provide golfers with the same unique fitting and custom putter experience that had previously been the domain of touring pros only.
Consumers will be able to access the precision-milled product and/or fitting sessions on March 21 through three distinct platforms: PLD Custom, PLD Milled and PLD Limited.
All three pillars and details of the program are available here.
“We established the PLD name several years ago as an extension of the PING Putting Lab where we’ve been fitting some of the top players in the world for more than 20 years,” said John K. Solheim, PING president, in a release.
PLD Custom is top-of-the-pyramid.
Consumers schedule an appointment with a PING master fitter and go through the exact same process a tour player would to create a one-of-a-kind custom built putter by PING’s Wrx team. The fitting can be done in person at an authorized PING Putting Lab or virtually through the website.
Canada’s launch of PLD Custom remains in prospect with details about availability, location and pricing still to come.
PLD Limited is special collector models. They celebrate a PING putter — like the company’s historic Anser — that changed the game or involve limited quantities of tour player models built and customized to exact specifications.
PLD Milled is designed for PING retailers committed to selling premium custom-fit putters and features four precision-milled, tour-validated models.
“The PLD program offers nearly endless possibilities,” Solheim said. “Golfers can craft their own custom design through PLD Custom, choose the proven performance of a PLD Milled or add to their putter collection by acquiring a PLD Limited. It gives golfers a chance to play what the pros play and own a piece of PING history.”
PLD Milled is going to draw some eyes. The four putters in the line are impressive, especially the DS72, currently the model being used on tour by Hovland.
The other three PLD models — Anser, Anser 2 and the Prime Tyne 4 — are machined milled from forged, 303 stainless steel and take more than four hours of milling time to complete.
PING tour staff player Corey Conners uses a PLD Prime Tyne 4.
All four models are $600 Cdn.
“We identified a couple of our most popular models from the past and some newer designs that have attracted a lot of attention in the last couple of years,” Solheim said. “We’ve given the new putters a very clean, premium look to emphasize the precision process they undergo before they are ready for play.”
PLD Limited is a throwback in more ways than one. Targeted to collectors, the models will feature putters played by top current PING professionals along with iconic PING putters that changed the game.
The company didn’t waste any time announcing that its first PLD Limited model will be a nod to the 55th anniversary of the Anser patent. Granted on March 21, 1967, the patent ran out in 1984 opening the doors for the Anser to be copied by competitors.
“We think its important to remind the golf industry and some of the younger golfers that the iconic design they see with other brands’ name on it was created by Karsten in his garage in the mid-1960s,” said Solheim.
The Anser Patent 55 putter will be fully machined from bronze and is only available through pingpld.com for $790 (US).
PING staff players are helping to kick off the PLD program at this week’s Players Championship. Each of the company’s brand ambassadors will carry a PLD-branded staff bag and wear headwear featuring the PLD logo. The staff bags will be autographed by the player and donated or auctioned off for a worthy cause. “Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson are just a few of the players who put their trust in a PLD model, each custom designed and built to their specific needs, but all engineered to win championships,” Solheim said. “We chose this week to introduce the PLD program at one of the game’s most important events and shine a spotlight on our success.”