The Solheim Cup Ended Up Being Great Now Let’s Change It

The 2015 Solheim Cup was, at times, exciting, excruciating, interesting and full of drama. In the end the U S team managed to leave Germany victorious but let’s not forget that the event was a Caroline Masson par putt away from a third straight European win over the best American women golfers in the business. The slimmest of margins, a half a point, separated renewed interest from an unstoppable slide into oblivion for the event. Another European win would have made the international competition a near impossible “sell” two years from now but thanks to Masson’s miss and Gerina Piller’s make American golf fans will, no doubt, again take notice of this great golf weekend when the two teams tee it up in Des Moines, Iowa.

But all of that doesn’t negate the fact that not only this, but all international golf competitions need a cleanse, a closer look, and a fresh approach. To paraphrase William Shakespeare and Marc Antony “I come not to bury The Solheim Cup, but to praise it.” It’s a fabulous event, the best and only meaningful multi-continent competition in the women’s game (including the upcoming Olympics) but it needs an overhaul, a redux that would allow it to showcase all of the game’s best. It also needs to be changed because, quite frankly, the American team needs help. Under the current format only a third (8 of 24) of the world’s best by ranking are eligible to participate. Changing the structure of the teams would allow all of the great players across the globe to have a chance to showcase their skills on this preeminent stage.

It is a shame, worse a sports sin that Karrie Webb, one of the greatest players of her or for that matter any generation, will never know what it feels like to play for her country and her teammates in a really meaningful event. If the qualifying criteria remain the same that shame will extend to the person many are calling the next great player in golf, Lydia Ko. Is there any one of us that doesn’t want to see Inbee Park, 2015 United States Women’s Open Champion In Gee Chun or Canadian star Brooke Henderson have a chance to play? Why does one side get to draw from an entire continent while the other has to settle for the best from a single country? This is not 1980, let’s open this thing up to make it more fun, more interesting and ultimately more competitive.

Here’s my proposal; Europe adds Korea, Japan, South Africa and China to the team while the good ol’ USA gets Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia and New Zealand. It’s easy to imagine this event with a Brooke Henderson against Shan Shan Feng start to Sunday singles and a Lydia Ko versus Inbee Park anchor match for all the marbles. In between we would not only be treated to Lewis against Pettersen and Wie versus Norquist but we’d also get to watch Karrie and Na Yeon, Minjee and Amy, Lexi and Ai as well. Win/Win.

The next step is to do the same thing with the men and The Ryder Cup. How great would it be to add Matsuyama, Els, Scott, Oosthuizen, Ishikawa and Jason Day to an already potent mix? Both The Ryder Cup and The Solheim Cup would truly be international events involving all of the world’s best players. You play one (The Solheim Cup) in the odd years and the other (The Ryder Cup) in the even ones. That would mean every year golf fans would get ONE fall spectacle, ONE big event to wrap our eyes and our arms around. Of course I know this means doing away with The International Crown (does anybody even know this event exists now?) and The President’s Cup (does anybody really care that this event exists now?) and what would be wrong with that? Those exhibitions are only on the calendar now because of money and the fact that many of the great players in the world don’t get a chance to participate in the more meaningful ones. With my proposal they do and more importantly golf and golf fans get a much needed break from watching teams made up entirely of players from one country struggle to maintain a level of interest to make the “afterthought” international competitions compelling.

So, again, with apologies to the Bard, let’s bury The President’s Cup and The International Crown and heap lavish amounts of praise on The Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup. Let all of the best players participate and give us all a reason to watch and really care, ONCE a year.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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