'Be prepared to be swept up by it': Solheim Cup, women's golf's marquee event, hits Toledo next week
Golf is on quite the run of patriotism, particularly in the United States.
Earlier this month, Xander Schauffele and Nelly Korda took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Next month, the Ryder Cup returns to American soil, in Wisconsin, for the first time since 2016.
And sandwiched in between will be the Solheim Cup — women's golf's version of the Ryder Cup — less than an hour outside of Detroit, at historic Inverness Club in Toledo. It's the closest to Michigan ever for the event, which dates to 1990, and tournament officials expect to draw significantly from Michigan, a big reason why Grand Rapids-based Meijer signed on as a sponsor.
"It's the biggest event in women's professional golf in the world, and to hang their hat here in Toledo and the Midwest, we're hoping this helps Toledo and builds a foundation for them to have large events moving forward," said Becky Newell, tournament director for the Solheim Cup.
"I was born in Cleveland and spent most of my life in Toledo, and you always heard about Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indy, Chicago. More and more people will get to understand.
"And Michigan is an amazing place for golf, not only amateur golf, but professional golf."
The Solheim Cup, which pits Team USA against Team Europe, kicks off Tuesday with four days of special events and practice rounds, with the tournament taking place Saturday, Sept. 4, through Monday, Sept. 6. It's arguably the biggest golf event to take place so close to Detroit since the 2008 PGA Championship was held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township.
The teams were finalized earlier this week, with the Korda sisters — Nelly, who won the Meijer LPGA Classic outside Grand Rapids for one of her three wins this season, and Jessica, who's also won this year — headlining Team USA, along with the likes of Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel and Danielle Kang in what is shaping up to be one of the best eras of women's professional golf in the United States.
Team Europe has less name recognition, but as we've learned through the Ryder Cup over the years, pride matters more than celebrity. Team USA does lead, 10-6, in the all-time series, though Europe took the title the last time, in 2019 in Scotland.
"Be prepared to be swept up by it," said Dottie Pepper, CBS golf analyst who played in six Solheim Cups. "The atmosphere is great."
The golf is the main attraction, but there's more to it than that, all throughout the week — and Solheim Cup officials are expanding the reach well beyond Inverness (which, by the way, was recently renovated, and hopes the Solheim Cup is a springboard for future big-time events, like the U.S. Open or PGA Championship). On Tuesday, there will be a Solheim After Sundown party, open to the public and featuring live music, in the Hensville area, where the Toledo Mud Hens play. On Friday, there will be a big Opening Ceremony at Promenade Park. There also will be a celebrity scramble at Inverness on Thursday, to feature the likes of musician Darius Rucker, former ESPN personality Mike Golic, Juli Inkster, Pressel and others.
There also is the Junior Solheim Cup, at nearby Sylvania Country Club on Wednesday and Thursday. It was important for tournament officials to keep that event, while the Ryder Cup canceled its junior event this year.
Speaking of the Ryder Cup, it usually is held in alternate years from the Solheim Cup, but was postponed in 2020 because of COVID-19, setting up the back-to-back showcases this year. The Solheim Cup eventually will move to even years in 2024, but for now is taking advantage of the extra publicity it's getting being so close to the Ryder Cup.
"We can build momentum and celebrate the red, white and blue," Newell said.
"First the Olympics ... it's a little trifecta."
The Solheim Cup drew about 120,000 fans the last time it was held in the United States, in 2017 in Iowa. Organizers had hoped to top that, and get to 150,000 at Inverness — they're still holding out hope, even though they're losing out on most overseas fans because of restricted travel. In a typical year, overseas tickets would account for as much as 11% of the total gate. Tickets for practice rounds are $45, and competition rounds are $75. A weekly pass is $175.
Meijer is sponsoring the Meijer Pavilion, a 70,000-square-foot double-deck "beast," as Newell called it. It will be an upgraded ticket, and proides food and drinks, will feature live bands Tuesday through Friday, and it offers views of as many as six holes (Nos. 4, 5, 11, 12, 14 and 15).
When: Saturday, Sept. 4, through Monday, Sept. 6
Where: Inverness Club, Toledo
Schedule: Tuesday, Aug. 31 — practice round; Solheim After Sunday at Hensville; Wednesday, Sept. 1 — practice round; Thursday, Sept. 2 — practice round; celebrity scramble; Friday, Sept. 3 — practice round; Opening Ceremony at Promenade Park; Saturday, Sept. 4 — first round; morning foursomes, afternoon fourballs; Sunday, Sept. 5 — second round; morning foursomes, afternoon fourballs; Monday, Sept. 6 — final round; singles matches; Closing Ceremony'
Team USA: Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas, Jessica Korda, Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, Jennifer Kupcho, Yealimi Noh, Megan Khang, Brittany Altomare, Mina Harigae. Captain, Pat Hurst.
Team Europe: Anna Nordqvist, Georgia Hall, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull, Carlota Ciganda, Leona Maguire, Madelene Sagstrom, Matilda Castren, Nanna Koertstz Madsen, Mel Reid, Celine Boutier, Emily Kristine Pedersen. Captain, Catriona Matthew,
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