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Solheim Cup 101: History, format, teams and TV schedule

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about the Solheim Cup:

This is the women’s version of the Ryder Cup, right?

Yes. It’s the United States vs. Europe, with 12 players on each team. They compete over the course of three days, in fourballs (better ball), foursomes (alternate shot) and singles.

OK. Well, first, explain the formats.

Easy enough. We can take this right out of our Ryder Cup 101:

Better ball: I play my ball and you play yours. Whichever one of us makes the lower score on the hole, that’s our team score for that hole. And if we tie, well, that’s our score. Alternate shot: You and I are a team. I tee off. You hit the next shot. I hit the next and so on until we’re in the hole. We alternate hitting tee shots, with me leading off on odd-numbered holes, and you hitting first on even-numbered holes. In both formats, we’re playing match play, so overall scoring is done by holes, not strokes. Matches last until one team does not have enough remaining holes to catch up.

If we defeat our opponents, it doesn’t matter if we did it by winning just one more hole than them (1 up), or shut them out (10 and 8), it’s just one point for our team. Tied matches are worth a half-point for each side.

Singles is just that, one vs. one.

Now, when do they play these formats?

The two teams will play four fourball and four foursomes matches each of the first two days (Friday and Saturday). The home-team captain decides the order (it’s foursomes and then fourballs each of the first two days this year). They will then play 12 singles matches on the final day (Sunday). That’s a total of 28 points up for grabs. The winner needs at least 14 ½. The caveat is: if there is a 14-14 tie, the cup stays with the defending champion.

Which is?

Europe. It has won each of the last two editions, in 2019 and 2021. The U.S. leads the overall series, 10-7.

So this started …

No need to do the math. This biennial competition began in 1990. The U.S. won eight of the first 11 cups, but Europe has since gone 4-2. It was originally contested in even-numbered years as the Ryder Cup was in odd-numbered. But after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Ryder Cup moved to even years (delaying the 2001 matches until ’02). The Solheim Cup adjusted, going back-to-back in ’02 and ’03, and then keeping with odd years. When the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 Ryder Cup to ’21, the Solheim powers-that-be decided to move back to even years. So ... after this year’s matches, there will be another in ’24, and proceeding from there.

What is a Solheim?

Who is a Solheim, you mean. The cup is named after Karsten Solheim, who founded golf-equipment manufacturer Ping and brought to life the concept of a Ryder Cup-style match for women.

And this only includes Americans and Europeans?

Correct. Players from other countries – regardless of resume and world rank – are not eligible. There is no Presidents Cup-style competition between the U.S. and the Internationals (non-European-born players). There is, however, the LPGA’s International Crown, which features eight, four-woman teams from top qualifying countries across the globe.

Going back to something: You said four fourball and foursomes matches each day. That’s eight players each session, not 12.

Correct, again. Four players from each team will sit each session. It’s part of the captains’ duties to figure out who is playing, who is playing with whom and who will be cheering on their teammates. Then, when it comes to singles, everyone must play.

Who are the players competing this year and how did they make their teams?

Here’s a look at the U.S. team. And here’s a look at the European team. Nine players qualified for the U.S. team and captain Stacy Lewis had three additional picks to use at her discretion. The nine who qualified did so via an LPGA points standing (seven players) and the world rankings (the top 2 Americans not-otherwise qualified). European captain Suzann Pettersen had two players qualify via a Ladies European Tour points list and six based on the world rankings. She then had four picks.

Where are they playing this year? What are the dates?

This year’s matches will be the first contested in Spain. Finca Cortesin in Andalucia will play host, Sept. 22-24.

Final question: How do I watch?

Golf Channel will showcase all three days of the competition and Peacock will simulstream. The television schedule is:

  • Friday, 2AM-1PM
  • Saturday, 2AM-1PM
  • Sunday, 5-11AM