The idea that may grow to be the Solheim Cup was conceived within the late Eighties by the leaders of the LPGA and Ladies’s European Tour (now the Girls’ European Tour or LET). But it surely was the backing of PING and the Solheim household that made the ladies’s model of the Ryder Cup a actuality.
Make no mistake. It doesn’t occur with out the assist and monetary backing from Karsten, John and Louise Solheim.
The Solheim Cup: Many years within the Making
The Ryder Cup dates to 1927. British service provider Samuel Ryder donated a trophy for a bi-annual match play match between the U.S. and Nice Britain. Since 1979, it’s been the U.S. versus Europe.
The Solheim Cup originated in 1988. Leaders of the LPGA and the Ladies Skilled Golfers’ European Tour kicked across the thought of a Ryder Cup for girls but it surely remained simply an thought. However LPGA commissioner Invoice Blue resurrected the concept two years later with two individuals he knew may be .
Karsten and Louise Solheim.
“Invoice Blue requested for a gathering with Karsten and Louise,” PING firm historian Rob Griffin tells MyGolfSpy. “Louise was involved concerning the assembly. She didn’t know what it was about and was fearful the LPGA was going to ban the Eye 2 golf equipment similar to the PGA TOUR had.”
Then, as now, PING was a significant supporter of the ladies’s sport. In 1975, PING sponsored the primary Karsten PING Open in Phoenix with a $70,000 purse. On the time, it was the second-largest purse on the LPGA Tour. The occasion wound up dropping cash however Karsten lined the losses and made certain the gamers have been paid in full. Karsten elevated the purse to $80,000 a yr later. The occasion misplaced cash and as soon as once more, Karsten lined the losses.
“PING sponsorship on the LPGA went on for one more 30 years,” says Griffin. “Karsten and Louise have been dedicated to girls’s golf. They didn’t see a distinction between women and men skilled golfers. From a enterprise perspective, it was good enterprise to assist each.”
About That Assembly …
Blue, after all, knew all this when he requested Karsten and Louise to satisfy with him. Karsten’s son, John, who would take over for his father in 1995, was additionally there when Blue pitched the concept for PING to sponsor a U.S.-Europe Ryder Cup occasion for girls. The timing, he believed, was proper. The Ryder Cup had grow to be significantly extra aggressive through the ‘80s with the inclusion of gamers from continental Europe. Europe had gained three straight Ryder Cups going into 1990.
“The LPGA was in search of assist with the primary two occasions,” says Griffin. “John truly motioned to Karsten and mentioned, ‘Let’s speak alone for a second.’”
They obtained up and went to at least one aspect of the room to speak and Louise joined them. After a few minutes, the Solheims got here again with a counterproposal.
“After they got here again, they mentioned PING would sponsor the primary 10 occasions,” says Griffin. “They made a 20-year dedication on the spot.”
It was John who informed Karsten they wanted to sponsor extra than simply the primary two occasions. But it surely was Louise who proposed the 20-year dedication. Moreover, she insisted the occasion not be used to showcase PING tools. As an alternative, the main focus was to be on the competitors.
“I’ve mentioned this many instances,” says Griffin. “But when Karsten had married a unique younger girl as a substitute of Louise, we in all probability wouldn’t be standing the place we’re standing. Karsten may nonetheless be in a storage someplace tinkering with a putter or an iron. However PING wouldn’t be right here with out her.”
The First Solheim Cup
That assembly was held in January of 1990 and the primary Solheim Cup competitors was held 9 months later, in mid-November at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.
“They didn’t have a complete lot of time to arrange and it wasn’t properly attended,” says Griffin. A crowd of perhaps 100 individuals witnessed the opening tee photographs. The American crew, captained by Kathy Whitworth, featured 5 future Corridor of Famers together with Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan. Rosie Jones and Dottie Pepper have been additionally on the crew. The European crew featured Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, Trish Johnson and Liselotte Neumann.
The U.S. gained 11.5-4.5.
There have been fears the collection can be one-sided. These fears have been put to relaxation in 1992 at Dalmahoy in Scotland. The European crew gained 11.5-6.5. The sport was on.
The 1994 match put the Solheim Cup on the map. It was the primary match to be proven on community tv with Karsten shopping for all of the TV advert time to make sure that it could be on. He resold as a lot of that airtime as he may however he wound up footing the invoice to the tune of greater than $2 million.
“The Solheim Cup matches have taken our sport to a different degree,” mentioned European captain Mickey Walker on the ’94 opening ceremonies. “Ladies’s golf world wide is stronger at present due to Karsten and Louise Solheim.”
PING and the Ladies’s Recreation
“Karsten and Louise have been each dedicated to girls’s golf,” says Griffin. “They actually didn’t see a distinction. They noticed each women and men as skilled golfers. It was good enterprise to assist each.”
LPGA professional Susie Maxwell gained PING’s first main in 1965. PING’s first victory total, nevertheless, was by Gloria Armstrong in a blended foursome occasion in 1960. Armstrong, teamimg with PGA TOUR professional Jim Turnesa, gained the match by sinking a 15-footer along with her PING 4A putter in a playoff. In 1989, Armstrong despatched the putter again to Karsten with a word explaining she had used it to win PING’s first skilled match.
A couple of weeks later, Armstrong obtained a letter again from Karsten. On the time, she was educating golf, struggling to make ends meet and worrying about paying her utility invoice. Considering the letter was a thank-you word, she opened it and a examine fell out.
“She picked up the examine, took a fast take a look at it and mentioned, ‘How good. Karsten despatched me a examine for $250,’” says Griffin. “She checked out it once more. It was for $25,000. I don’t know if Karsten knew she was struggling. He simply wished to thank her.”
Twenty years later, John Solheim heard the story and had a gold-plated PING 4A made (PING didn’t begin making gold-plated putters for match winners till 1978). PING LPGA participant Pat Hurst, who would captain the 2021 Solheim Cup crew, and her husband Jeff (a PING gross sales rep) introduced the putter to Armstrong.
“It seems Gloria was Pat’s trainer,” says Griffin.
And Armstrong’s authentic 4A is the one non-gold-plated putter in PING’s vault.
Historical past’s Mysteries: The Solheim Cup
Since each Karsten and Louise have been instrumental in establishing the Solheim Cup, I needed to ask Griffin a easy query: Which Solheim is the cup named after? Karsten or Louise?
“I’d say it’s Karsten. Though John steered three names for the occasion: the Karsten Cup, the PING Cup and the Solheim Cup. The LPGA didn’t need it to look industrial so that they selected the Solheim Cup. I feel that’s good as a result of it contains each Louise and Karsten and the remainder of the household.”
In 2002, two years after Karsten’s loss of life, John Solheim established the PING Junior Solheim Cup for feminine amateurs aged 18 and underneath.
“Down the corridor, we’ve photos of Junior Solheim Cup groups together with common Solheim Cup groups,” says Griffin. “When you take a look at a number of the junior groups, you’ll see gamers like Paula Creamer and others who’ve gone on to have success on the LPGA Tour.”
The PING Junior Solheim Cup was performed earlier this week in Benahavis, Spain. The common Solheim Cup is being performed now, in Malaga, Spain.
“Karsten and Louise have been the primary individuals Invoice Blue and the LPGA talked to about this occasion,” says Griffin. “They didn’t go to any individual else first. They got here right here. And that speaks to the earlier assist Karsten and Louise had given to girls’s golf. And I can’t think about that they wouldn’t have, however thank goodness Karsten, Louise and John noticed the significance of it, and that the ladies deserved this.”