|The Solheim Cup Comes To West Des Moines|
|Juli Inkster, captain of team USA celebrates with her players after winning the singles matches of The Solheim Cup at St Leon-Rot Golf Club on September 20, 2015 in St Leon-Rot, Germany.|
|Des Moines Golf and Country Club South Course|
By R.J. SmileyThe Solheim Cup comes to Iowa battle for the PING prize on the prairie! Iowa sports fans are pro sports starved! Golf is their salvation. In the year 2017, golf fans in Iowa will be slapping high-fives like they just made an ace to win a new car. In addition to the John Deere Classic, across the Mississippi River in Silvis, IL (PGA TOUR, July 10-16), and the Principal Charity Classic (Champions Tour, June 6-11), the Solheim Cup is coming August 14 - 20! The fact that the LPGA awarded the Solheim Cup to the state of Iowa, the City of West Des Moines and the Des Moines Golf and Country Club is a complement to the state's rabid base of golf fans. Iowa golf fans have proven they will support championship golf with big crowds at the annual John Deere Classic and Principal Charity Classic. They also showed up in record numbers (on the very same golf course) for the USGA Senior Open in 1999.
The routing for the Solheim Cup will be the same as for the 1999 Senior Open, but the golf course is certainly not the same. Pete Dye, the designer of DMGCC, and his associate Tim Liddy developed a master plan for DMGCC so that future changes to the golf courses will reflect Pete's design philosophy. The 18-holes that will be the venue for the Solheim Cup Matches (10 through 18 on the North Course and 1 through 7 and 17 and 18 on the South Course) have gone through extensive upgrades following Dye's master plan. The two men in charge of rules and course set-up, Brad Alexander and Dan Meselli, have spent considerable time with the course professional and superintendent fine-tuning every detail. Note: Designer, Pete Dye, was awarded the lifetime achievement award by The World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008. He is only the fifth architect to be inducted to the Hall.
Now that election season is over, the Solheim Cup excitement is already building in coffee shops around the state. Golf fans know they will witness the best women golfers from the United States competing against the best from Europe. But, in addition to the great women players, the two layer Solheim cake will feature a spicy frosting as Captains Annika Sorenstam and Juli Inkster attempt to out fox each other in the Solheim Cup parings' chess match.
With opening ceremonies for the 2017 Solheim Cup less than seven months away, America's women professionals are focused on qualifying points to guarantee a berth on Team USA. In an effort to put the players who are on a hot streak on the team, Solheim Cup points, that determine 8 of the 12 American golfers who make the team, will double for each of the five majors and increase by one-third during the year's other LPGA tournaments. The two current leaders in points are Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis.
Two of the remaining four spots will be filled by the players with the highest point total, that are not already qualified, in the Rolex Women's World Rankings. Team USA Captain Juli Inkster will select the final two players just prior to the event.
Over 125 million households all over the world will witness the Solheim Cup. For the folks from Iowa, the extravaganza will showcase the state and the City of Des Moines to the world. With improved technology and a growing worldwide golf audience "big time golf events" like the Solheim Cup have become a "television bonanza." The PGA of America, USGA and now the LPGA have morphed, from being golf organizations whose sole purpose is to benefit golfers and the golf professionals they represent, into "event managers." The worldwide audience that numbers in the hundreds of millions are proof that we will continue to see big time golf promoted like the Super Bowl and the World Cup.
The Solheim Cup was the brainchild of Karston Solheim, founder of PING, and his wife Louise. They wanted to create a women's team golf event to be staged on the odd years between Ryder Cup Matches and to complement the men's event. In 1990 they got their wish. The inaugural Solheim Cup was held at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Florida. Team USA defeated Team Europe 11-1/2 to 4-1/2. Little known Betsy King was the star of the USA Team scoring 2-1/2 points (out of a possible 3 points) with a half in the final match after the winning team had already been decided. Since that humble beginning, the Solheim Cup has joined the spectacle that is golf today. Team USA has an over all lead of 9-5 over their European foes winning all but one of matches played on U.S. soil.
The 2017 Solheim Cup's website, www.solheimcupusa.com, is full of helpful information about the event. The first question that golf fans ask, "Are there still tickets available?" The answer is yes. The Solheim Cup expects to draw a capacity crowd, but tickets are still available.
Being a part of a big time golf event is truly something special. As of early January, Chris Garrett, Tournament Director, told me that there are still a few volunteer positions available. Applications to become a volunteer can be found on the website as well.
If there are young woman golfers in your family who have a birthday coming up before August 14th, opening day of the Matches, a great present would be tickets to the Solheim Cup Matches. In addition, DMGCC currently has a wide range of Solheim Cup merchandise available for sale. In the spring, additional merchandise will be available at the club and on the website.
Every day of the week will be filled with quality golf competition. Early in the week women golfers, under age 18, from USA and Europe will compete in the PING Junior Solheim Cup Matches. The PING Junior Matches, using the same format as the Solheim Cup, have become a crowd favorite. These Junior Matches will be played on the DMGCC course. Thursday will feature Opening Ceremonies in late afternoon preceded by the past Captains Challenge. With all the preliminaries out of the way, the main event runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Both team captains, Annika and Juli, played the golf course last summer and gave it a "thumbs up." They had nothing but praise for the extensive renovation. As we look forward to having two Solheim Cup superstars as captains, let's take a look at their Solheim Cup records.
Annika was a European Cup Team Member from 1995 through 2007 and compiled a record of 22-11-4, one of the best records in Solheim Cup history.
Juli Inkster competed in most of the Solheim Cup matches from 1992 through 2011. Her record of 15-12-6 does not reflect her value to the team. Although her win/loss record is not as strong as Annika's, Juli proved to be a strong force and perpetual team leader.
As we look across the snow-covered landscape of what is, in summer months, a golf course, we eagerly look forward to the battle for the PING prize on the prairie.
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