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The Solheim Cup

8/2/2017

This monumental international event is coming to West Des Moines

IMG_6881The largest event in women’s golf is set to come to West Des Moines this month. From Aug. 14-20, Des Moines Golf and Country Club (DMGCC) will host the 15th Solheim Cup. The event is expected to draw approximately 30,000 attendees on match days and break previous Solheim Cup attendance records. The Cup is a big moment for women’s golf and a big moment for Des Moines.

THE HOST

The success of the 1999 U.S. Senior Open — hosted by DMGCC — is what ultimately led to the club hosting the Solheim Cup. Still the highest attended Senior Open at 252,800 patrons, many in the golf business hold the event in high regard. Likewise, after the Senior Open’s success, DMGCC wanted to host another event in the same vein. In 2007, DMGCC was in talks with the United States Golf Association to host an event but couldn’t quite find the right fit. Then in 2012, the club reached out to the LPGA and began discussing the possibility of hosting the Solheim Cup.

“We were fortunate enough that they had had some staff that had been there — working in their offices in Florida — that had actually been here working at the Senior Open in ’99 and were just very impressed with Des Moines,” says Scott Howe, PGA director of golf at DMGCC.

They officially put in a bid to host the 2017 event in January 2013 and were notified a few months later that it had been accepted. The 2017 Iowa venue was officially announced in September 2013.

Chris Garrett, tournament director of the Solheim Cup, moved to central Iowa in 2014 to prepare for the 2017 event.

Chris Garrett, tournament director of the Solheim Cup, moved to central Iowa in 2014 to prepare for the 2017 event.

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“It’s a great city, it’s a great community and they get behind things. It’s one of the reasons why we expect to be successful here,” says Chris Garrett, tournament director of the Solheim Cup.

Garrett and his family moved from Phoenix to central Iowa in the summer of 2014 to prepare for the 2017 event and will stay for another year after the event concludes. They have enjoyed their time so much that they are reluctant to leave when the time comes.

“I would tell people you’re the best-kept secret in the United States,” Garrett says.

The club’s 471-acre, two-course, 36-hole Pete Dye-designed golf property puts it in a unique position to also host the PING Junior Solheim Cup. It is the first time that both tournaments will be held at the same course at a United States venue. Since the PING Junior Solheim Cup’s first event in 2005, 17 players have gone on to play in the Solheim Cup.

The timing of the event couldn’t be better, as DMGCC just wrapped up a four-year, $6.8 million course renovation in May. Prior to the club’s bid acceptance, the renovation had already been in the works. The last time the course had major work completed was 40 years ago, and it was due for a facelift.

“The LPGA was certainly aware of that. They asked to see those plans and were fine with everything,” Howe says.

Renowned course architect and original designer Pete Dye made two visits — one in 2011 and one in 2012 — to assess the course and make recommendations for upgrades. Construction broke ground in 2013, with a strict schedule of working on nine holes each year from August through May until all 36 holes were completed. The process saw all sand bunkers reworked, 10 greens rebuilt, tee boxes adjusted and more. The course also changed from a par 73 to a par 72.

THE FOUNDING AND THE TEAMS

The Solheim Cup takes its name from its founder — and PING founder — Karsten Solheim. Karsten was an adamant supporter of women’s sports and worked with his wife, Louise, the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour to create the Solheim Cup — a women’s team event played in a similar style to the Ryder Cup. Just like the Ryder Cup, the United States and Europe face off every two years in a team format, with tournament locations alternating between the United States and Europe. The first Solheim Cup was held in 1990 at the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Florida, with the United States winning.

Team USA Solheim Cup team captain Juli Inkster was team captain for Team USA's win at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany and made nine Solheim Cup appearances as a player. Photo courtesy of LPGA.

Team USA Solheim Cup team captain Juli Inkster was team captain for Team USA’s win at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany and made nine Solheim Cup appearances as a player. Photo courtesy of LPGA.

Each team consists of 12 players and one team captain. For United States players to make the team, they must be U.S. citizens and LPGA members. Eight players are selected through a point system that began after the conclusion of the 2015 Solheim Cup. Points are awarded to players based on tournament placing, with points doubling during a Solheim Cup year. Two more players are selected based on the top finishers of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, and the remaining two are selected by the team captain.

The European team uses a similar ranking method to determine its players. Four are selected from the Ladies European Tour Solheim Cup point system, four are selected based on the Rolex World Ranking, and the team captain picks four. Team Europe’s captain is retired Swedish star Annika Sörenstam. Sörenstam is one of the most well-known female golfers in history, racking up nearly 90 career wins, multiple hall of fame inductions and eight ESPY awards in her 15-year career. The living legend surprised the Waukee High School girl’s golf team when she showed up to their practice at DMGCC in May.

The 2017 Team USA Solheim Cup team captain — Juli Inkster — was announced in 2015. Inkster — an active player, Solheim Cup veteran with nine appearances as a player, and 1999 LPGA Hall of Famer — was also team captain for the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany, where the United States won. The rest of team USA is to be determined as the point system is still in effect. One cemented team member and current No. 1 point holder — with the No. 2 contender more than 200 points behind — is Lexi Thompson.

Thompson will be one of the most exciting players to watch this month. The Florida native was born in 1995, and she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 as a 12 year old, making her the youngest person ever to do so. Her amateur record contains many highlights, including competing in the 2009 PING Junior Solheim Cup in Illinois. She joined the professional ranks on June 16, 2010, at the age of 15. She has competed in the last two Solheim Cups — Germany in 2015 and Colorado in 2013 — making the West Des Monies event her third consecutive appearance.

Another former prodigy and household name likely to qualify is Michelle Wie, who has competed in the last four Solheim Cups since her 2009 rookie year. Wie’s first Solheim Cup and 2009 appearance in Illinois was the same year Thompson played in the PING Junior Solheim Cup. Other past Solheim Cup players sitting atop the rankings are Stacy Lewis (three appearances), Cristie Kerr (eight appearances), Jessica Corda (one appearance), Lizette Salas (two appearances), Brittany Lang (four appearances), Brittany Lincicome (five appearances) and Gerina Piller (two appearances). Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst are looking to qualify for the first time.

THE EVENT

“If somebody hasn’t been to a Solheim Cup they’re going to be shocked at how loud it is,” Garrett says.

The average golf fan is familiar with an atmosphere that asks for silence during play. The Solheim Cup is the opposite and rivals a college football tailgate more than a golf outing.

“We’re actually producing signs that instead of saying ‘Quiet Please’ it says ‘Get Loud,’ ” Garrett says. “I can tell you after having sat on the first tee of the Ryder Cup both abroad and in the United States, that the atmosphere on the first tee at the Solheim Cup is fantastic. It’s singing and cheering and chanting, and it might even outperform the Ryder Cup. It rivals some of the best events you’ll ever go to from that standpoint.”

Lexi Thompson, pictured at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany, will compete in her third Solheim Cup this month. Ping chairman and CEO John A. Solheim looks on. Photo courtesy of LPGA.

Lexi Thompson, pictured at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany, will compete in her third Solheim Cup this month. Ping chairman and CEO John A. Solheim looks on. Photo courtesy of LPGA.

In addition to the noise, fans are encouraged to wear red, white and blue and dress in patriotic attire to cheer on Team USA. Uncle Sam, Abraham Lincoln and Captain America are common costumes.

“We only have four groups on the course at the same time on Friday and Saturday morning, 12 groups on Sunday in the singles matches, so you tend to have huge crowds following each group. As opposed to a normal event where you might have 30 groups come through, and you can sit on one hole and see 30 groups come through in the course of a day. It’s almost a mob mentality that follows these four groups around, and it’s loud and exciting and you don’t even have to be a golf fan to get caught up in it. It’s a lot of fun,” Garrett says.

What makes it so rambunctious? Perhaps it’s the patriotism or the team-style play not common with golf. Or maybe it’s the women.

“I believe the young ladies can be more excitable and more exciting than some of us guys that tend to sometimes be quiet and boring,” says Mark Egly, golf pro, instructor and owner of Des Moines Driving Range. “The international competitions are the very, very, very best of excitement.”

Egly instructs many young golfers and has noticed a difference in the liveliness and the amount of support in the girls’ competitions.

“On the girls’ teams, there were girls there who weren’t even on the team coming out to support them. On the guys’ side, it’s just the parents,” he says, noting how the girls are much more eager to cheer on their friends.

Egly credits Tess Goudy for Iowa’s strong junior golf scene. Goudy, assistant executive director of Junior Golf for the Iowa PGA Section, has noticed an increase in girls’ participation. Of the more than 700 juniors who participate in the Iowa PGA’s 80-90 events, Goudy estimates that close to 25 percent are girls.

“This year in particular, we’re seeing a lot more younger girls, which is great,” says Goudy. “And I’ve seen quite a few new names and new faces out here, which is also great.”

For those looking to know more about The Iowa PGA, they will be at the Solheim Cup and will be running a putting challenge on Friday, Saturday and Sunday near the first tee.

Attendees can expect many things awaiting them on the tournament grounds of DMGCC. Numerous food and beverage tents, a kid zone, contests, giveaways and more can be found scattered throughout. For those looking for Solheim Cup swag, there will be a 15,000-square-foot merchandise tent located near the main entrance for all things Solheim Cup-related. Besides golf, the most anticipated events of the weekend are the Friday and Saturday night concerts put on as part of the Solheim Cup concert series. Fans of country music can enjoy Jake Owen on Friday and Rascal Flatts on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased for individual concerts or both as a combo.

Even if you are not a golf fan, Garrett says this is an event worth witnessing.

“It’s a great opportunity to come out and see something that’s not going to come around probably in anybody’s lifetime,” Garrett says.

Now that everything is in place, it’s Des Moines’ time to shine. Tickets have been purchased in all 50 states and in 17 different countries, including Dubai. With the city’s current momentum, the success of the event could bring more large-scale events in the future. As the tournament’s first tee time nears, excitement continues to build, and the buzz is palpable, especially for those close to the event.

“It’s definitely surreal. It seems like we’ve been talking about it for so long and kind of putting the foundation in place,” Howe says. “It’s here, and it’s ready.” ♦

Solheim Cup Schedule of Events
*Schedule subject to change

DATE TIME OFFICIAL FUNCTION VENUE

8/14 9 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

9:30 a.m. PING Junior Solheim Cup Junior Am DMGCC-PJSC course

4 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

6-9 p.m. Solheim After Sundown presented by Wells Fargo DMGCC-Wells Fargo Pavilion

8/15 7 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

7:30-8:20 a.m. PING Junior Solheim Cup Fourball Matches DMGCC-1st (PJSC course)

8-10 a.m. Team USA Practice DMGCC-1st tee

8-10 a.m. Team Europe Practice DMGCC-10th tee

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Women’s Leadership Summit presented by KPMG/IEDA DMGCC-Iowa Club

1-1:50 p.m. PING Junior Solheim Cup Foursome Matches DMGCC-1st tee

4 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

8/16 7 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

8-10 a.m. Team USA Practice DMGCC-10th tee

8-10 a.m. Team Europe Practice DMGCC-1st tee

9-10:50 a.m. PING Junior Solheim Cup Single Matches DMGCC-1st (PJSC course)

11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

3 p.m. PING Junior Solheim Cup Closing Ceremonies DMGCC-Iowa Club

4 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

6-9 p.m. Gala Reception and Dinner Iowa Events Center

8/17 7 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

8-10 a.m. Team USA Practice DMGCC-1st tee

8-10 a.m. Team Europe Practice DMGCC-10th tee

9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Past Captains Challenge presented by Holmes Murphy DMG-PJSC course

11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

2 p.m. Hy-Vee Pavilion Closes DMGCC-Hy-Vee Pavilion

3:30-4:30 p.m. Pre-opening Ceremony Celebration DMGCC-Main Entrance Area

4:30-6 p.m. Opening Ceremony DMGCC-Main Entrance Stage

6:30 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

8/18 5:30 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

8:05-8:50 a.m. Foursome Matches DMGCC-1st tee

9:30-11:30 a.m. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

1-1:45 p.m. Fourball Matches DMGCC-1st tee

2-4:30 pm. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

4:30 p.m. Hy-Vee Pavilion Closes DMGCC-Hy-Vee Pavilion

6 p.m. Gates Open for Concert DMGCC

6 p.m. Hy-Vee Pavilion Opens for Concert DMGCC-Hy-Vee Pavilion

6:30-10 p.m. Solheim Cup Concert Series presented by Hy-Vee DMGCC-Main Entrance Stage

(Performances by DJ Rock and Jake Owen)

10 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

8/19 5:30 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

8:05-8:50 a.m. Foursome Matches DMGCC-1st tee

9:30-11:30 a.m. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

1-1:45 p.m. Fourball Matches DMGCC-1st tee

2-4:30 pm. Lesson Zone DMGCC-Practice Range

4:30 p.m. Hy-Vee Pavilion Closes DMGCC-Hy-Vee Pavilion

6 p.m. Gates Open for Concert DMGCC

6 p.m. Hy-Vee Pavilion Opens for Concert DMGCC-Hy-Vee Pavilion

6:30-10 p.m. Solheim Cup Concert Series presented by Hy-Vee DMGCC-Main Entrance Stage

(Performances by DJ Rock and Rascal Flatts)

10 p.m. Gates Close DMGCC

8/20 8:30 a.m. Gates Open DMGCC

9:30-10:15 a.m. Sunday Service DMGCC-Main Entrance Stage

11 a.m. – 12:50 p.m. Twelve Singles Matches DMGCC-1st tee

6 p.m. Closing Ceremony DMGCC

History of the Solheim Cup

YEAR LOCATION WINNER

1990 Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Florida, USA USA

1992 Dalmahoy Country Club, Scotland Europe

1994 The Greenbriar, West Virginia, USA USA

1996 St. Pierre Golf & Country Club, Wales USA

1998 Muirfield Village, Ohio, USA USA

2000 Loch Lomond Golf Club, Scotland Europe

2002 Interlachen Country Club, Minnesota, USA USA

2003 Barsebäck Golf & Country Club, Sweden Europe

2005 Crooked Stick Golf Club, Indiana, USA USA

2007 Halmstad Golf Club, Sweden USA

2009 Rich Harvest Farms, Illinois, USA USA

2011 Killeen Castle Resort, Ireland Europe

2013 Colorado Golf Club, Colorado, USA Europe

2015 Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, Germany USA

2017 Des Moines Golf & Country Club, Iowa, USA

2019 Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland

Ticket information

Grounds Tickets-Daily

Monday $15

Tuesday $30

Wednesday $30

Thursday $30

Friday $60

Saturday $60

Sunday $60

Grounds Tickets-Weekly $165

Wells Fargo Pavilion $365

Country Club Grille $1,290

Parking

Main entrance $35/day

Off-site $35/week

Concert Tickets

Jake Owen

Friday, Aug. 18

General admission $50

VIP Hy-Vee Pavilion $150

Rascal Flatts

Saturday, Aug. 19

General admission $60

VIP Hy-Vee Pavilion SOLD OUT

Friday and Saturday-Combo

General admission $100

VIP Hy-Vee Pavilion SOLD OUT

www.solheimcupusa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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