Counting volunteers and special guests, north of 130,000 people flocked to Inverness Club for the week of the Solheim Cup. And as winning European captain Catriona Matthew said, “Imagine if the Europeans had been able to travel (which they weren’t because of COVID-19). We might have been up at 200,000.” Then Matthew added. “I think it’s events like these that grow the game and grow women’s golf. And we’ve put on another spectacular performance this time.”
No one argued that last point. With 16 of the 28 matches going all the way to the 18th hole, this was the closest Solheim Cup in terms of individual matches in the event’s history – much closer than the 15-13 European victory might appear.
One of those 130,000 attendees who witnessed the drama was a woman named Dawn Grove, who, like everyone else, felt overwhelmed by the size and enthusiasm on display. No one knew this was a record attendance for the Solheim Cup until the end. But everyone realized that they were in the middle of something special.
Grove had another reason for feeling an overwhelming sense of emotion in Toledo. She is the vice president and corporate counsel for Karsten Manufacturing, the parent company of PING. And she is the granddaughter of Karsten and Louise Solheim, the founders of the Solheim Cup.
With her grandmother, who first envisioned these matches, never far from her mind, Dawn Grove sat down and answered a few questions for LPGA.com.
Q: Seeing the size and scope of this event, what do you think your grandmother would say?
Dawn Grove: My grandmother traveled to every Solheim Cup she could, even into her mid-90s, and I attended many of those with her, so I have a good idea what she would say. Grandma Solheim would say the Solheim Cup is among the most important work we do. She and my grandfather founded the Solheim Cup to ensure women had a high-level competition to aspire to, so women golfers could have similar opportunities as were available to men golfers. She would be thrilled to see how the Solheim Cup continues to elevate women golfers and glad to see the difference it’s making in their lives.
Q: Where do you think it’s going in the next 30 years?
Dawn Grove: These world-class women competitors continue to drive the competition to new heights. We’ve seen over 130,000 in-person spectators this week together with a million-plus television and online viewers watching the Solheim Cup. As more and more people are now discovering the joy of golf, I see (the event’s) popularity growing. This year COVID travel restrictions limited the number of European fans who could attend in person. But who knows what technologies may be available thirty years from now to allow perhaps millions more people to experience the tournament as if all were there on the golf course together?
With the extraordinary talent of these ladies, excitement of match-play and playing for the honor of team and country, I think the potential growth of the Solheim Cup is unlimited.
Q: Could any of you have imagined that this event would become what it has?
Dawn Grove: This is exactly what we hoped would happen and is consistent with our family’s vision for the event. Ladies’ golf originally did not have a place to be televised and showcased in a meaningful way. My grandparents believed it was worth the millions of dollars we dedicated to purchasing the television coverage for the first events, so that the talents of women golfers could be seen and appreciated by the world. As you know, the Solheim Cup attracts fans from all over the world, spotlighting these tremendously talented athletes. And television coverage happens naturally now. This is one of the most exciting Solheim Cups ever and the energy in Toledo is magnificent!
The Solheim Cup tournament today is a dream come true.
Q: Is this your grandmother’s legacy?
Dawn Grove: My grandmother was proud to call the Solheim Cup her legacy.
The 2023 Solheim Cup will be held at Finca Cortesin on the Costa del Sol, Andelucía, Spain, September 18 – 24.