I didn’t grow up playing golf, and no one in my family ever uttered the word “golf” in my household.  For us, golf was something that “other” people played. So how I managed to wiggle my way into this sport is beyond me.   Then, having started playing golf later in life, I feel as though I am always playing catch-up with my knowledge about the sport and especially ladies’ golf.  With all that said, I have been a fairly dedicated player for the past five years (not bad at age 69) improving my ability, taking lessons and practicing.  But I honestly didn’t know the background of ladies’ golf and the major players.  And, that includes The Solheim Cup.

All I knew about The Solheim Cup were 3 things (1) it was a ladies-only competition; (2) It was the alternative to the men’s Ryder Cup competition; (3) and the competition alternated between the USA and Europe every two years (and held the opposite year of the Ryder Cup). With that said, I had pretty much no other knowledge or expectations other than it was a big deal.

Who is the The Solheim Cup Named After?

The Solheim Cup is considered one of the most important events in women’s professional golf.  The competition is played every other year between teams that represents both the USA and Europe.

The Solheim Cup is named after Karsten Solheim, who is the founder of Ping Golf and also the driving force behind the success of The Solheim Cup competition.  That’s why, when you attend the Solheim Cup, you will find the Ping brand prominently displayed everywhere since they Solheim Family and Ping and still deeply involved with the tournament.  

When I discovered the 2021 Solheim Cup competition was going to be held in Toledo, Ohio it was a great opportunity for me to attend.  I live just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania so it was going to be easy for me to make the 5 hour drive. 

While doing my research for the trip, I did learn that Nancy Lopez competed in the inaugural Solheim Cup Competition in 1990.  And, now in 2021, her travel group called Nancy Lopez Golf Adventures, offered a complete travel package for the Solheim Cup that includes hotel, meals, transportation to and from the competition, and an awesome swag bag.

Since it was my very first time attending any sort of Professional Golf competition, I opted to join in with Nancy Lopez Adventures Tour Group instead of venturing out as a solo traveler and I can honestly say it was the best decision for me.

First of all, as a solo traveler, being around other golfers was an instant ice-breaker.  I blended easily with this travel group which was welcoming and warm and I never once felt out of place.  Honestly, any lady golfer who wants to travel and doesn’t have a companion, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try Nancy Lopez Golf Adventures.  Yes, I was apprehensive at first.  However, it turned out to be a great decision with lots of fun and camaraderie during the entire event.

My Takeaways from attending my first Solheim Competition

I want to share a few of my takeaways that will help you if you decide to attend an event like The Solheim Cup.

My first piece of advice…. Plan to arrive a day or two early!

I was originally scheduled to arrive a day early in Toledo, Ohio with plans to drive around the city and visit local spots…  such as the Original Tony Packo’s eatery, made famous by Clinger in the TV Show “Mash.”  I also wanted to check out the Maritime Museum and drive around and enjoy what the city had to offer.   However, due to personal issues, I had to make a last-minute decision to delay my trip by one day and that culminated in a time compressed trip for me!

I drove up the day the event — a very doable 5-hour trip.   I left the house early in the morning to arrive at the hotel by mid-day.  I have done a fair amount of traveling so I knew that hotel check-in was most likely around 3pm but I was banking on the probability that I could check in early… along with about 100 other people who had the same idea.  I was stuck waiting for my room for 3 hours for that 3pm check-in time.  The decision to delay my arrival turned into a series of extremely rushed and crazy time-management moments. 

The first event –The Solheim Cup opening ceremonies and the Gwen Stefani concert was happening the day of my arrival.  My original plan was to check in my noon, relax and be ready to attend the evening festivities.   Instead, I checked into the hotel at 3pm and had to catch the shuttle bus no later than 4pm.  It was just crazy as I rushed to change clothes, find my tickets with no time to unpack or settle in.  I ran out of my room to catch the bus which didn’t return to my hotel till after midnight.  Whew!

I just barely caught my breath when I learned the first tee off would happen at 7:30 am the next morning. This meant the first shuttle bus of the day would leave the hotel at 6am in order to arrive on time. I barely had enough time to sleep, organize for the morning, and get to the bus!   My original thought was to miss the first tee-off…  but I forced myself to get up to experience what turned out to be a really thrilling moment.  Watching the competitor’s tee-off as the sun was rising and being part of spectators cheering on the “U S A” was amazing.

Another Takeaway – Get to the Merch Shop Early

Here is another piece of advice.   Get to the merchandise shop as early as you can for best selection and don’t delay purchases. I walked around the merch shop and saw so many items and branded clothing but thought to myself I would purchase stuff before I left so I didn’t have to carry everything around.   By the time I made it back to the store, everything was definitely picked over.  I actually ended up having to purchase Solheim Cup branded products online from http://www.fanatics.com and settling for what they had.

Would I go Again?  Absolutely!

I have to say it is well worth attending The Solheim Cup and traveling with Nancy Lopez Adventures.  Nancy is truly a delight with a generous spirit.  And that’s the way her travel group is run.  Honestly, I wouldn’t travel to the Solheim Cup any other way.  And, best of all, learning that Nancy Lopez was one of the inaugural players was so exciting.  In fact, the very first foursome match at The Solheim Cup in 1990 was between Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley for USA and Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas for Europe. 

Where to Learn More about The Solheim Cup

Nancy Lopez at Solheim Cup
Nancy Lopez 1990 Solheim Cup

If you get a chance to attend the Solheim Cup I can attest to a truly memorable experience.  After I returned, I definitely made it a point to educate myself about the launch of the competition.  There is one article in particular written by Ron Sirak, a very well-known and respected golf writer and historian which I invite you to read by clicking on the link below.

Team Fever – The History Behind The First Solheim Cup | Solheim Cup (solheimcupusa.com)