John A. Solheim will be honored during the American Junior Golf Association’s Annual Meeting Friday, Feb. 29 with the AJGA’s Digger Smith Award. The Chairman and CEO of PING, Solheim and his family’s company have been longtime supporters of junior golf and the AJGA.
The Digger Smith Award, which has been presented annually since 1991, praises an AJGA advocate for his/her longtime service and dedication to junior golf. Recipients are devoted to the AJGA Mission and Purpose of developing young men and women through competitive junior golf. Award winners not only set a standard for excellence, but they also continue to raise expectations year-in and year-out.
The award is named in honor of current AJGA Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith, who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and junior golf for more than three decades.
Solheim and PING have sponsored 50 tournaments in AJGA history. The first event was the 1990 PING Myrtle Beach Junior Classic, which ran for 12 consecutive years. The next year, the PING Phoenix Junior appeared for the first time on the AJGA schedule, where it can still be found today. These 50 events have provided more than 4,600 playing opportunities for juniors.
"It has always been a joy for me to watch young golfers develop, some into great players,” Solheim said. “To be recognized by the AJGA is a great honor for me. They have done so much to help in the development of thousands of young people and, in doing so, set new standards for others to follow."
Recently, the PING Junior Solheim Cup (2002) and The PING Invitational (2006) were added to the AJGA schedule. Solheim was the main catalyst in the creation of both of these elite junior golf events and continues to be involved with all of the AJGA’s PING-sponsored events.
Solheim became President of PING in 1995, 36 years after his father, Karsten Solheim, founded the company in his garage. He was named Chairman and CEO in 1999.
The Phoenix-based company designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.