The Solheim Cup – Part 1

You love team golf right? The Ryder Cup gets you as fired up as does watching your favorite team play in the Super Bowl doesn’t it? You rearrange your work schedule accordingly so that those three days of Ryder Cup competition do not get interfered with by anything! If only the Ryder Cup was held more often, then we could have that rush of adrenaline that only comes from watching U.S.A. vs. Europe in an all out dog fight, right? Well you may or may not know this, but we do get this treat every single year. No, I’m not talking about the President’s Cup (which sometimes seems no more than the ugly step child trying to garner some attention on the men’s circuit), I’m talking about U.S.A.’s best against Europe’s best, the Solheim Cup. The Ryder Cup’s place in history is plenty secure, so I don’t expect the Solheim Cup to ever over shadow what the men have every other year. The beauty of it all is that they don’t have to, ever. The Solheim Cup was not created as a rival to the Ryder Cup, much the opposite actually.
Played biannually, opposite years of the Ryder Cup, The Solheim Cup takes the top players in ladies golf from both sides of the pond. Played over three days 12 ladies make up each team and you certainly will not miss a beat when it comes to drama and enthusiasm to win. Started in 1990 when officials from the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour (LET) developed a concept of a women’s answer to the Ryder Cup. They approached the late Karsten Solheim about possibly becoming the founding sponsor. I’m sure you can assume by the name of the event that Mr. Solheim agreed and the Solheim Cup was born. The Cup is the most coveted trophy in women’s professional golf team competition, berths on the U.S. and European teams are highly sought after by players from both organizations.

After the inaugural event was dominated by the ladies of the USA it has since become a rather competitive event with the U.S.A. currently holding an overall 7-3 record, while that doesn’t seem close a look at the winning scores will prove that the events were much closer than the outcome my lead you to believe. You want drama? The Solheim Cup has drama, just ask Annika Sorenstam how heated the drama can get in the Solheim Cup. In 2000 some hardcore gamesmanship came into play in a match involving Americans Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst. Holding onto a slim 1-up lead the American team was shocked to see Annika hole a chip shot for birdie when it clearly looked like the American’s were going to put a dagger into the match with Hurst having just 3 feet for her birdie. As Robbins got to her ball on the green she realized that she was actually outside Annika even though her ball was on the green and Annika’s was not. Sighting a rule stating that allowed the Americans to force a replay of the shot, this time around Annika missed the chip and the American team went on the win the match. Annika was visibly shaken to the point of tears following the incident. So yes, the Solheim Cup has drama.

You want patriotism? Just look at the picture of Paula Creamer showing her support by wearing the face paint of the Red, White, and Blue. Can you even imagine anything like that happening in the “me first” world of the Ryder Cup? Obviously we don’t want to see our guys with stars and stripes painted on their face, but would a little bit of passion kill ya? We did actually get to finally see some of that in 2008 so I am going to lay off our boys this time, but the point I’m trying to make is that these ladies are as passionate about winning the Solheim Cup as any team in any sport trying to win their championship. 2009 Assistant Captain and eight time Solheim Cup competitor Meg Mallon calls it the “most fun I’ve ever had playing golf. I grew up playing team sports, so to be able to have that team camaraderie and then to play for your country is the coolest thing.” Solheim Cup spots are so precious and coveted by these ladies of the LPGA and LET tours that as Christie Kerr says “the players are always thinking about the points, regardless of whether it’s a Solheim year or not.” She talks about being sure she makes the team the following year, this event is on her mind the minute points are available, now that is passion! Think of this as having 12 Chris DiMarco’s on your team, no I don’t mean a bunch of players with a goofy putting style either. I’m talking about having 12 players who look as if they were born for this kind of play. Players who compete in this team event like their lives depended on it, players that will leave everything they have out on that course in their efforts to win the Solheim Cup for their country. I’d take 12 Chris DiMarco’s over just about any team you can field and I will likely win every time. Passion, I’m getting fired up just typing this!

The 2009 version of the Solheim Cup will be held at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Il August 17-23. The U.S. squad is captained by Beth Daniel with the European ladies being lead by Alison Nicholas. The final event to earn points for the 2009 Solheim Cup is the RICOH British Open held this week. This is the first of a three part Solheim Cup preview from The Hacker’s Paradise, next we will take a closer look at the players who made the 2009 teams and we’ll conclude our Solheim Cup discussion with a full preview of the event. Stay tuned to THP and if you are new to the Solheim Cup we’ll do what we can to get your ready. It promises to be a great event, if you love team competitions then you are going to love the Solheim Cup, trust me!

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Jason Kunze
Jason is a busy husband and father of 2 daughters who are both just starting to take up the game that he has loved for years. Golf is his passion, when Jason is not playing golf and testing equipment he's hanging out with all his friends on the THP forum discussing every aspect of this great game.
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