"Thank You Troops"

David Westin follows up on Ping's rapid response to its military discount debacle, with the entire episode proving that it pays to have well-compensated executives who can quickly address the P.R. disasters created by those very same well-compensated executives.

In a ground-breaking move, active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military now can receive rebates on Ping golf equipment.

It is the first time Karsten Manufacturing Corp., which makes Ping clubs, has offered a discount of this nature. The Phoenix, Ariz., company was established in 1962.

The company announced its "Thank You Troops" rebate program Tuesday. It is retroactive to Monday, said Bill Gates, Ping's director of distribution and associate general counsel.

According to Bonaventure Discount Golf owner L.D. Waters, who has been in the business since 1955, this is the first time a golf-equipment company has offered a mail-in rebate.

Mr. Gates said the mail-in rebate is a dollar amount based on the purchase price. For instance, he said there would be a rebate of $80 on a set of eight Ping irons.

The cost of that set at Bonaventure Discount Golf is $748, so the rebate is 10.6 percent off the retail price.

That's 10% coming out Ping's pocket now, instead of the retailers! A small price to pay for protecting the brand!

Okay, see if you can read this without laughing:


According to a statement from Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim, the rebate is a continuation of Ping's support of the military.

"For the last year, we've been looking for additional ways to support the troops," Mr. Solheim said in the statement. "On three occasions we've sent hundreds of free clubs for the troops to enjoy during their limited leisure time, but we wanted to provide them additional benefits.

"The reaction of some individuals to the issue reminded us it was time to do more," Mr. Solheim added.

Mr. Solheim disputed some media reports that the military was targeted because of the discounts, but added that "a lot of good is coming from the issue. We have the highest admiration and respect for those fighting for our country."

But this is peculiar...

According to Mr. Gates, Ping wanted to go the mail-rebate route because "we don't know what the retailer may be charging for the product. We want instead to provide the rebate from Ping directly. So it doesn't matter what they're charging out there."

Well, it does matter. That's what prompted this little debacle.