Ping revolutionized game-improvement golf equipment with their perimeter-weighted clubs. But when they finally entered the golf ball market in 2021, many were surprised by the premium pricing of $45-$50 per dozen for the new Ping ball models.
This places Ping Balls among the most expensive models – on par with elite brands like Titleist Pro V1. What accounts for the lofty pricing Ping golf balls command despite being newcomers? By exploring R&D costs, brand positioning, and target markets, we can better understand the pricing strategy behind Ping’s golf balls.
Ping’s History in Golf Equipment
Ping enjoys a sterling reputation in golf equipment stemming from founder Karsten Solheim’s innovations:
- Solheim pioneered perimeter-weighted cavity back irons and oversized driver heads as an engineer at GE.
- Founded Ping in 1959 and continuously advanced game improvement club technology.
- His commitment to custom fitting and opting for premium pricing established Ping’s prestige.
- Ping revolutionized game improvement equipment but generally avoided balls and accessories.
Solheim focused Ping’s identity around premium clubs rather than broad equipment lines.
Ping Enters the Golf Ball Category
Ping caught the golf world off guard in announcing expansion into golf balls in 2021:
- Had acquired numerous ball patents and engineers through the 2010s indicating R&D interest.
- But Ping remained silent for years on any ball launch plans while they tested prototypes.
- In January 2021, Ping unexpectedly announced its arrival into the golf ball market to augment its club lineup.
- The stated goal of blending their innovation and fitting expertise from clubs into balls.
While unexpected, Ping instantly became a formidable competitor by applying proven brand principles.
Ping’s Golf Ball R&D Investment Required Premium Pricing
Developing competitive golf balls after decades of focus on clubs represented a major endeavor:
- Significantly expanded their engineering team with experience specifically in ball aerodynamics, materials, and manufacturing.
- Invested heavily in advanced swing robots, wind tunnels, lab equipment, and computing power for iterative testing.
- Partnered with experts across chemicals, coatings, and 3D printing for rapid prototyping.
- Built new state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities optimized for precision automation.
Given the undertaking required, pricing is needed to support substantial R&D costs.
Ping’s Ball Pricing Strategy
Two key elements of Ping’s pricing aligned with its reputation:
- Ping intentionally avoided budget balls and instead targeted premium tour-level performance.
- Prestige perception established with clubs enabled Ping to equate to Pro V1 pricing.
- Premium pricing reinforces perceptions of advanced technology and quality.
Custom Fitting Focus
- The ball selection methodology aligns with Ping’s custom-fitting heritage in clubs.
- Hour-long ball fitting included with driver or iron fittings.
- Highlights the unique value of personalized recommendations from Ping’s experts.
Ping strategically priced balls at a premium tier befitting their brand.
Ping Targets Serious Golfers with Pricing
Ping’s pricing clearly targets serious, performance-focused golfers:
- Budget and high handicap segments are less relevant to Ping’s brand image.
- Ping knows their reputation draws golfers prioritizing quality, innovation, and excellence.
- Higher pricing helps position Ping balls as specialized offerings.
- Established brand loyalty allows Ping to command a pricing premium.
Unlike discount brands, Ping specifically markets to devoted Golfers Rather than value-price shoppers.
Ping Golf Ball Models
Initially, Ping offered two models aligning with their premium pricing:
Ping Tour – 4-piece urethane-covered tour ball ($50 MSRP)
- Engineered for max greenside spin and control.
- Drag-reducing dimple design sustains ball speed.
- CataLyst core generates fast speed at high and low compressions.
Ping Distance – 3-piece ionomer covered distance ball ($45 MSRP)
- High launch, low spin for added yards off the tee.
- Large soft core transfers maximum energy.
- The ionomer cover is cut-proof and durable.
This variety provides either tour-level control and feel or max distance.
How Ping Ball Pricing Compares
Ping’s new golf balls debuted at price parity with elite established brands:
- Titleist Pro V1 – $50 MSRP
- TaylorMade TP5 – $45-50 MSRP
- Callaway Chrome Soft – $40-45 MSRP
- Bridgestone Tour B – $45-50 MSRP
- Srixon Z-Star – $40-45 MSRP
Ping strategically aligned with premium ball pricing tiers despite being an untested newcomer.
Does the Performance Validate Ping’s Pricing?
While steep for a new entrant, Ping’s pricing matches the performance as independent testing shows:
- Tour model competes with Pro V1/Pro V1x spin, feel, launch, and flight.
- Distance ball rivals Chrome Soft, TP5x, and Tour B X in speed and low spin.
- Precision construction and extensive R&D validate quality.
- Meticulous manufacturing and material standards meet Japanese brands.
- In-house mechanical/player testing data supports performance claims.
Independent results corroborate Ping’s premium pricing very closely.
Potential Future of Ping’s Ball Pricing Strategy
As with any new product, Ping may adjust their golf ball pricing over time as needed:
- Could expand the product line with additional models targeting more price segments.
- Volume scale and manufacturing efficiency may allow price decreases.
- If surcharges from the supply chain, materials, and logistics rise substantially, prices could increase.
- New technology innovations may provide an opportunity for premium charges.
It remains to be seen if Ping tweaks pricing as the golf ball business evolves.
Ping’s surprising arrival into the already crowded golf ball market with premium-priced models stems from its entrenched brand positioning around high-end performance and custom fitting.
Given the required R&D and manufacturing startup investments, along with Ping’s desire to target serious golfers rather than budget buyers, pricing on par with trusted brands like Titleist Pro V1 became a logical strategic choice.
While sky-high costs limit interest from price-conscious players, Ping’s performance seems to validate the technology and quality at this tier.
As Ping further establishes its golf ball credentials, it will be interesting to see if the pricing strategy shifts to balance affordability and profitability.
But for now, Ping is staying true to their heritage – come for the unmatched quality, innovation, and service, not the rock-bottom prices.