Almanac Golf: The Pings aren’t gone





The Pings Aren’t Gone!

by Gerard Cashill


Sometime in the summer of 1989 my wife’s car was stolen from outside her South Yarra rental with my golf clubs in the boot.

The car was subsequently found at a Broadmeadows Shopping Centre sporting a new set of mag wheels but with no sign of the old clubs. Without wishing to denigrate the good people of the northern suburbs, this was the second time ever I’d been to Broadmeadows, both of which were to pick up stolen cars!  My own vehicle, a 75 HJ Holden affectionately known as The Yellow Peril, had disappeared from Bond Street in the city one night while I was on night shift. I worked across the road from the Fox and Hounds Hotel and no doubt one of the patrons saw the Peril as a better way to get home than calling a taxi. The thief’s job was made easier as the driver’s door didn’t lock due to rust and the ignition could be turned without a key!

My next round of golf was at Cape Schanck, with borrowed clubs and it was while checking in that I noticed a raffle book on the counter with first prize being a full set of new Ping clubs and bag. I quietly filled out a couple of tickets without letting on to my playing partners.

We had a golfing trip to the Murray planned for early in 1990 and I was constantly questioned by my golfing buddies as to when I was going to purchase a new set of clubs. My reply was always that I wasn’t going to buy a set just in case I won the raffle! I was usually then informed that I was a compete idiot – or words to that effect.

From my somewhat hazy memory I think it was a public holiday, Australia Day perhaps, when I received a phone call from Henry Cussell of the National Golf Club advising me that I was indeed the winner of the Pings! Even better was that a native of my hometown of Koroit, Peter McCluskey, had just played a round there and was present when my name was drawn, much to his chagrin as he’d just bought $20 worth of tickets! Peter, who sadly is no longer with us, then offered to transport the Pings back to South Yarra, and consequently they were with me that evening. In hindsight I regret not picking them up myself, as I feel I never adequately thanked The National.

I was self-conscious for some time with the new clubs – there’s nothing like rocking up to Albert Park with a set of flash new clubs then dribbling your tee shot about 20 metres, in front of 40-odd people you don’t know! It also turned out that my Ping Eye 2 irons had square grooves which were subsequently deemed illegal by the R&A. Of course, any half decent shot I played with them was deemed by my playing partners to be due to the square groves rather than my own ability, hence when Ping offered to replace each iron at $50 a pop I gladly took them up.

Fast forwarding to late 2022, I finally decided to replace the raffle set and, keeping loyal to Ping, I purchased a set of G425 irons and drivers. It was on one of my first outings with the new clubs when the following occurred.

It was a normal Saturday comp at my home club of Port Fairy and with our two regular golfing partners being away on the day, my friend Kadir and I were joined by two guests, Graham and Alan. Around the course we had the usual discussions around golf and football and so on, but it wasn’t until the 19th hole that I had the following conversation with Graham:

Me: And what do you do Graham?

G: I do a bit of cricket coaching part time

Me: OK, you played a bit of cricket did you?

G: Yes, I played a bit

Me: At a very high level?

Alan intervened: You don’t get much bloody higher than Australian captain!

Me: (gulp!) Can I buy you a beer Mr Yallop!

The strange thing is that I had played indoor cricket at Graham’s South Melbourne centre back in the late 80s and on a several occasions he had filled in as a batsmen on various opposition sides. It was quite a thrill to be fielding to one of the most elegant left-handed stroke players of all time. But with the passage of time and sans his moustache I had no idea it was him until the dramatic reveal! And of course, Kadir, a native Turk who wasn’t in Australia when Graham was playing, had no idea either. Suffice to say he was a very humble person and it was a pleasure to play a round of golf with him and Alan – although I sometimes think of all the cricket conversation we could’ve had, had we known earlier!

PS – Despite the new Pings my handicap has started to go the in the wrong direction, however there is no doubt the person swinging the clubs is at fault, rather than the clubs themselves. The Ping Eye 2s have been handed down to my eldest son.


Port Fairy GC    Photo: Courtesy of the PFGC




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  1. Tony Taylor says

    One Ping only, Vassily.

  2. You are a very lucky man on several fronts, Gerard. Port Fairy is a Top 30 course with modest fees. Champagne golf at beet prices. I heard Mike Clayton on a podcast recently say the Club President was bemoaning members’ difficulty in getting tee times because of the volume of visiting green fee players. “Put the bloody fees up – they would be 4x higher if the course was in the UK” was Clayt’s typically blunt advice. High on my bucket list for a golfing holiday.
    As for the Pings – I’ve never played them – but originator Karsten Solheim was the greatest innovator in club design. He was the original garage inventor who would hang around tournament parking lots trying to give his clubs away. Perimeter weighted irons (for better off centre strikes) are now standard for all but the elite player and the goose neck putter with the tinny sound that gave the company its name. Original putters are now collector’s items. The square grooves for extra spin were the only time the governing bodies (USGA/R&A) showed any spine in stopping innovation that made the game too easy for pros. Karsten was outraged and his court case (while losing) made the regulators gun shy for the next 40 years. Drivers have gone from the hardest club to hit in the 80’s with small hickory heads to the easiest with huge titanium heads, that make golf courses uncompetitive for pros and unsafe for amateurs. Indirectly a result of Kirsten’s innovations and commercial obstinacy. Progress depends on the unreasonable man.
    Keep enjoying hitting them – Pings are great clubs.

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Gerard, I was waiting for the final punchline that the other player Alan was indeed Alan Border.

  4. Daryl Schramm says

    More golf stories please . . . .

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