There’s a change of atmosphere within the women’s game, highlighted by the huge success of the Solheim Cup
Wow. I’m not sure there is another word that quite sums up the 2021 Solheim Cup other than WOW.
Truly a spectacle of not just women’s golf but professional golf.
A battle of integrity and a showcase of sportsmanship.
Three days peppered with world class golf shots, fuelled with adrenaline and heart.
Is this the dawning of a new age for the women’s game? I truly believe that it is.
Let’s first address the dazzle that was the performance from both sides.
Nobody wants to see a one-sided victory that is dominant throughout and I think this cup delivered that excitement in abundance.
Firstly remember that this was a battle on US soil .
The fair yet testing course Inverness Golf Club rewarded good shots and punished poor ones.
This was not just a putting competition though both sides displayed an intense show on the greens.
On paper the Americans looked like the favourites.
With depth of quality and rankings such as world number 1 Nelly Korda and number 8 Danielle Kang, the US team looked primed from the start.
Looking at the world rankings you have to get to 15, Anna Nordqvist, then Georgia Hall at 28 to begin to realise that on the books the States were stronger.
Add into that boiling pot the fact that historically Europe had only ever won once on US soil (2013 at Colorado Golf Club).
Then add in another challenging fact of the sheer absence of European support, not just in the crowds but within the players personal support crews.
The course was a flood of red white and blue, with very few flashes of yellow except the odd banana.
I feel this strengthened the European camp, they had to lean on each other for support and didn’t have the worry of whether their nearest and dearest had the right passes etc.
They literally had a sole focus and that was to play awesome golf.
Almost like a fort under siege from loud American crowds chanting and not applauding tantalising shots, I think they fed off that focus and were really able to knuckle down to do the job in hand.
I wonder if the overpowering army of fans was a bit too much for Team USA?
This time round Europe rose above the odds and delivered an incredible fight that saw rookies taking centre stage.
Leona Maguire of Ireland tranced through the cup with a staggering 4-0-1 record and looked like she belonged on this world class stage in beating Jennifer Kupcho 5&4.
Matilda Castren drained her par putt on that final green to retain the Cup for Europe and defeat the Queen of the Greens Lizette Salas.
The Finn went from rookie to heroine and it’s exciting to see what else is to come from her and all the younger players on both teams.
The more experienced players also dug deep and fought some gritty battles to secure some precious half points.
Mel Reid took on the Ian Poulter mantle and ramped up the comeback factor on Sunday evening. Anna Nordqvist fought a gutsy battle in securing half a point in the singles versus Lexi. I think that is the whole point.
It was edge of your seat kind of entertainment and what competitive sport is all about.
How excited has the Solheim Cup got all golf fans about the future of the women’s game?
There’s suddenly light, not a glimmer of hope but a dazzling sunrise and the future looks bright.
Another gain from this fabulous display of talent and pizazz these players bring is that a whole new fan base has formed for players that weren’t necessarily on many golf viewers radars.
They’ve witnessed incredible shots, nerves of steel and I think most importantly an unreal respect for one another.
Popov and Jessica Korda were witnessed embracing each other as mates following Europe’s win.
The support these girls show each other demonstrates a deep-rooted sense of family within the women’s game.
They play side-by-side, week-in, week-out, yet can put their game faces on and play their best to defeat each other when required.
What amazing morals and what an inspiration these girls are to the next generation who now have a much shinier future within the sport if they do indeed decide to pursue a career in golf.
I think the support given to both sides by their male counterparts shows a very different step in the way the women’s platform is growing.
Bubba was there singing on the first tee and supporting team USA and showing a united front.
The flood of supportive messages from the guys on PGA and European Tours just demonstrates the united front the whole game is now showing.
My goodness the guys respect these girls and it is a step forward in creating a united game of golf and stamping out the old fashioned sense of prejudice that has lurked in the game for so long.
Now on centre stage, the women’s game is visible and appealing to the bigger sponsors (Aramco is a perfect example of this) and therefore the prize pot for events will start growing at a more ferocious rate.
There is still a huge gap with the men’s and women’s game but I see progress, I see it slowly closing at a rate that I honestly thought wasn’t possible, especially given the state of the world regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
I think a huge amount of the team’s success has to go to the incredible captaincy powers of Catriona Matthews on her second stint in the job – the cool, calm and collected essence she sprinkled over the entire event was a brilliant mix with the European players.
The likes of Georgia Hall and Charlie Hull fed off of this air of command so, so well.
There’s a change of atmosphere within the women’s game and not just because of the Solheim cup but women’s golf in general.
The crowds at the event were enormous and more akin to a Ryder Cup.
The best part is that it was a level 50/50 of men and women watching.
There seems to be a desire to watch women play golf (and this can be said for other sports also), fuelled by events such as the Armaco Team Series and social media making the whole game more appealing to both be a spectator and a player.
They used to say women’s golf was easier to watch, seemed more attainable to the average golfer.
NOW it’s a showcase of the game, brimming with characters and incredible talent.
The whole world is taking women’s golf more seriously and I know this momentum created by the Solheim players will continue to gather speed.
I know the Ryder Cup team will take this victory and build on that as the countdown begins for Whistling Straits.
Congratulations Catriona and your world class team, thank you for the inspiration.