Solheim Cup captain Carin Koch believes this year’s event can prove a landmark for the women’s game, in the United Kingdom and beyond.
Koch unveiled the new team outfits at Wentworth this week and said: “The Solheim Cup is our chance to showcase the best of women’s sports and the best of women’s golf. We are hoping to inspire more women to start playing.
“This year – for the first time – we will have 30 hours of live television coverage, and a record number of ten countries have shown an interest in hosting the 2019 Solheim Cup. That’s an indication of how interest in our sport is growing.”
This year’s event is being held in Germany for the first time, with the St Leon-Rot course – 16 km south of Heidelberg – hosting the event in September. Koch will also have a hand in the setting up of the German venue ahead of the competition.
The 43-year-old Swede said: “I played a few holes of St Leon-Rot last year, but next week I am going out to play all 18 holes and take a closer look. I will be having some input into decisions being made about how wide the fairways should be and how high to leave the rough. These are decisions you can’t leave until the last minute. You have to decide on things like that pretty quickly.
“We will also be looking at setting up tees to encourage players to go for shots they might not otherwise go for. It makes for exciting golf all around.”
Europe’s Solheim Cup hopefuls have until August 25 to impress Koch, but she said: “Just because I’m not picking my team for a few months doesn’t mean to say nothing else is happening. Our uniforms are a big part of the preparations and we unveiled a great collection of outfits today. There are some lovely little touches on the clothing, like three little stars on the pockets and buttons which are star shaped.”
On her return to the UK, Koch will be taking an interest in the performances of all the Solheim hopefuls.
“I have no preferences over youngsters or the more experienced players – it’s about performance. There are obviously some players of particular interest to me, but I have to be open minded.
“There may be players making points and working their way up the rankings, but if suddenly a player has a really crazy time – in a good way – then I have to be prepared to take more interest.”
Having been victorious against the USA in 2011 and 2013, how does the Solheim Cup veteran Koch view the chances of making it three wins in a row?
“The year 2015 will be a very important one for women’s golf. It’s important we keep the momentum we gained from our wins in 2011 and 2013 and try to make it three in a row.
“There is going to be drama and excitement and we know the USA team will come up strong. The teams are more equal than they have been in the past, but I am optimistic even at this early stage.”
Koch already has this year’s competition uppermost in her mind.
“If there’s one thing I learned from Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup captaincy, it is attention to detail. I want to make the details as perfect as I can and the competition as good as it can get.
“The Solheim Cup will show women’s golf at its best, with the different formats making it interesting and fun to watch.
“It will be a great showcase and hopefully an inspiration to new followers of the sport.”
*This article was originally published in The Golf Paper on 29 April 2015