Solheim Cup fever: Four days and counting to those first tee jitters!

(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) /

Solheim Cup fever exists for event organizers, fans, and players – who suffer exquisitely from 1st tee jitters!

Solheim Cup fever is reaching a frenzied pitch.  For the volunteers and local organizers, who’ve spent the past two years preparing, show time starts today. The gates of Des Moines Golf and Country Club are open and practice rounds have started.

For the fans, who’ve spent the past two years anticipating and imagining and predicting, there’s still a bit of waiting. First round foursomes matches begin on Thursday, August 18 at 8:10am local time (CT). But as we wait, let’s savor the history and flavor of this biennial clash between the game’s finest European and American players.

Solheim Cup 1990

Consider as you consult the 2017 Solheim Cup schedule: in 1990, the year of the inaugural Solheim Cup, Golf Channel was five years from launch and Annika Sõrenstam wasn’t quite ready to turn pro.

Solheim Cup
(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) /

Much water has flowed under the golf bridge since then. Golf Channel and NBC Sports are providing 30+ hours of on-course coverage and Sörenstam, who has played in 8 editions of the Solheim Cup, is Team Europe’s captain.

Although Karsten Solheim had the 1st Solheim Cup videotaped there are no YouTube clips of the action that took place in 1990 at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando.

There are, fortunately, memories of that first Solheim Cup, a venture fueled by vision and fired by imagination of the possible. Karsten and Louise Solheim saw immediately the potential for a women’s version of the Ryder Cup. European and American players alike bought in and engaged with gusto.

Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas went up against Pat Bradley and Nancy Lopez in the first foursomes match at the first playing of the Solheim Cup. Europe won that match 2 & 1. Then the Americans rallied, won the next 11 matches, and took possession of the Solheim Cup.

Solheim Cup jitters

That first win wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Americans, despite the final triumphant score.

More from Solheim Cup

Dottie Pepper recalled the moment that she and playing partner Cathy Gerring approached the tee for their foursomes match. They’d practiced all week with Gerring taking the first shot (and odd numbered holes) and Pepper playing the even numbered holes. But Gerring, suddenly overcome with first tee stage fright, turned to Pepper and said, “Partner, I cannot do this.”

Pepper, like all good golf partners everywhere, took over.

"Well, OK then… guess I was now playing the odd tee shots after not having practiced that way, for that format all week. We won."

The Europeans came to the tee at Dalmahoy Country Club in 1992 and silenced those who had been fretting that the Solheim Cup would be forever dominated by the Americans. Team Europe won handily, 11½ to 6½. The line was drawn and the competition was on.

First tee jitters like Gerring’s are a part of every golf match – really, they’re a part of every golf round at every level of play. But with the galleries screaming and the flags waving and their hearts thumping, Solheim Cup first tee jitters can approach cardiac arrest level.

All of us, local or remote, will be there for Thursday afternoon’s opening ceremony. The bagpipes will put all of us – players, fans, officials, commentators – into the proper frame of mind. The lucky fans are heading through the gates of Des Moines Golf and Country Club to watch Monday’s practice rounds and ready themselves for the frenzy that begins Friday at 8:10am local time.

This is one of the most magnificent moments in women’s golf competition.

Next: Meet Team USA

Golf Channel begins broadcast coverage of the 2017 Solheim Cup with the opening ceremony on Thursday, August 17 at 6pm and provides coverage of the first foursomes matches on Friday, August 18, starting at 9am.