Thursday’s Notes: Anticipation is Building at the Solheim Cup

It’s Thursday here at Gleneagles and the media center is active with reporters trotting through the Fan Pavilion beside the 18th fairway on their way to the Opening Ceremonies, where both teams were announced, flags were raised, anthems were played (and sung by both the American and European crowds) and Friday’s pairings were announced.

The course and landscape are beautiful and the weather forecast looks good for first matches tomorrow.

In addition to the pairings for the alternate shot format, both captains announced the order in which each group went out. Neither captain knew whom the other had picked ahead of time. So the matches themselves were a surprise to all until the last minute.

There will be plenty of comments about whether the matches are equal.

Also expect comments about whether captains are sending their strongest teams out first. Both led with rookies – Bronte Law for Team Europe and Marina Alex for Team USA – in the opener. This was strategic. Neither Captain just pulled names out of a hat.

An interesting decision in the Alternate-shot is which player tees off first on the first hole. One player tees off on the even holes, the other on the odds and players then alternate shots until the hole ends. So, for example, the 5th hole is a very long par 4.

If one team member hits a long tee shot the team might decide that the player with the long tee shot should hit first on the first tee. That will allow her to also hit the tee shot on the fifth hole. Number 2 is a reachable par-5. So a shorter hitter could find the fairway and give the longer hitter a chance to reach the green with her second shot.

And don’t be surprised if partners walk down the fairways waiting for partners to hit.  That speeds up play which is a feature of the alternate-shot format.

Lots of thinking!  But these are among the top players in the world.  I’m looking forward to enjoying three days of great golf! Check back here tomorrow for more updates.

Friday’s Notes: The European Crowd is Another New Experience

As I watched the Friday afternoon Fourballs go off the first tee, I think the biggest challenge for Team USA may not be their European opponent’s golf, but the enthusiastic fans cheering for them. The best estimate is that the home-crowd advantage might be worth at least a point, maybe two for Team Europe.

This is the case because the Americans are fielding so many rookies. It’s one thing to be told to expect cheers for your opponents (and cheers for putts you miss) but it is another thing to experience it. I am sure that Captain Inkster will pass along some wisdom and share her years of experience to her teammates. No matter what, Saturday will be better than Friday for Team USA because there won’t be as many surprises for the six rookies.

This is the 4th Solheim I have attended.

Four years ago the matches were in Germany near Frankfurt. But these matches in Scotland are an unbelievable draw for Europeans. The beauty, the proximity (it is near equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow), the quality of the accommodations and all the great golf nearby make it one of the best spots in Great Britain for this event.

As I put this blog to bed for day one, Europe leads the Americans.

Saturday’s Notes: Solheim Showcases Scotland Golf to American Women

The crowds continue to grow here at Gleneagles at the Solheim Cup.  Fans on the first tee today Saturday were even nosier than yesterday. Sunday’s singles matches may require ear plugs.

But what’s driving this huge crowd and enthusiasm?  I believe two factors are at work.

First: More women are traveling to golf courses and resorts and are doing it together. According to the director of golf operations at Gleneagles, courses in the area like Gullane Links and North Berwick have had more women players this week than at any other time than they can remember.

One of the travel leaders organizing these excursions is Barbara J. Gutstadt, founder of Women’s Golf & Travel Concierge.  She has brought 200 women from the States to the Solheim Cup. You will recognize them by their fan costumes and noisemakers. Barbara recognized me in the lunch line.

Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, who is one of Juli Inkster’s assistant captains this week, also organizes golf tours for women, combining lessons with the trip.

The second reason that this Solheim is drawing the crowds is because it is being played in Scotland, the home of the game with iconic places like St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. The country places a premium on golf tourism because it is an important revenue source.

It helps to see the Solheim Cup attracting a global television audience. And while this Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Gleneagles is not traditional links, the beauty of this area has been attracting golfers for more than a century. And this course has several sets of tees for golfers of all abilities.

We are truly lucky to be watching the greatest women golfers compete in this historic competition established by Louise and Karsten Solheim founders of PING golf.

After tomorrow’s round, join in celebrating your favored team. Then make plans with other women golfers to visit Scotland.

Watch for my final blog on Sunday congratulating the winning team and inspiring more women to play more golf and travel to more grand golf.

Sunday’s Notes: Europeans Rally To Win The Solheim Cup

Sunday matches began with both Team USA and Team Europe tied with eight points each.  In an exciting Sunday final round of singles match play Team Europe won the matches with a thrilling 18th hole birdie by Suzann Pettersen.

The crowds today were larger with the addition of local residents from Gleneagles and as far away as Edinburgh. Saturday’s winds had died down and the sun even came out.

The first of the final matches began Sunday at 11:40  and by 2:00 p.m. all 12 were underway.  A reminder that this is match play.  A match could have conceivably ended after 10 holes and one, Megan Khang and Charley Hull, finished with a tie. That’s the reason the final score was 14½ to 13½. Halves or “tied” matches were worth a half-point each. This one was much closer than anyone expected. Five matches went all the way to the 18th green, and four others finished on 17.

For the final scores see the leaderboard at

What set the winners apart, and what separates great players from the rest of the field, is not their long games. All these women have fantastic long games and if you go the range at an LPGA event, it’s impossible to separate the No.1 in the world from No. 100. The difference is their short games. And that’s where the pressure of the moment can get the best of you. For example on the first couple of holes, I watched three players hit poor chips from six yards off the green to a middle pin and then miss three-foot putts. Both gathered themselves and made plenty of great pitches and putts coming in but that’s what makes for champions.

I am really inspired to practice those shots on my home course.

And my observations today at the final round confirm that more women golfers…of all skill levels .. should experience more match play formats. My advice is to ask the golf professionals at your club or the women’s golf committee to add match play events into the schedule.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these notes from the Solheim Cup in Gleneagles. For those that like to plan ahead, Team USA and Team Europe will meet again in Toledo, Ohio in 2021. Hope to see you there!