The Solheim Cup: The Ultimate Event in Women's Golf

By Kellie Noszka

Team USA celebrates during the 2019 Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup is one of the most anticipated events in women’s professional golf, an entertaining and exciting competition between the top American and European golfers.

The Solheim Cup host site alternates between the United States and Europe, with each team playing on its own turn once every four years. The biennial event returned to the U.S. in 2021, and was played at one of the top courses in the Midwest, the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Solheim Cup History

PING golf founder Karsten Solheim helped create the match-style tournament that bears his name. The inaugural Solheim Cup was held in 1990 and was to be every other year, opposite of the men’s equivalent, the Ryder Cup. Some schedule changes occurred because of cancelations of the Ryder Cup after the attack on 9/11 and the 2020 pandemic, but the Solheim Cup will return to even-numbered years in 2024.

The United States currently holds a 10-7 lead in overall competitions, but the European team has won the last two Solheim Cups. and four of the last six after the American team dominated the early years of the event.

Finca Cortesin in the Costa del Sol region of Spain will host the 2023 Solheim Cup, just one week before the Ryder Cup is held in Italy. Golf fans from across the globe have the rare opportunity to watch both events in close time and proximity.

All-Time Solheim Cup Results

2021 marked the United States's second Solheim Cup loss on home soil, following a 2013 loss at Colorado Golf Club.

YearWinnerScoreVenue
2021Europe15-13Inverness Club, USA
2019Europe14.5-13.5Gleneagles, Scotland
2017USA16.5-11.5Des Moines G&CC, USA
2015USA14.5-13.5Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, Germany
2013Europe18-10Colorado Golf Club, USA
2011Europe15-13Killeen Castle Golf Resort, Ireland
2009USA16-12Rich Harvest Farms, USA
2007USA16-12Halmstad GK, Sweden
2005USA15.5-12.5Crooked Stick GC, USA
2003Europe17.5-10.5Barseback G&CC, Sweden
2002USA15.5-12.5Interlachen CC, USA
2000Europe14.5-11.5Loch Lomond GC, Scotland
1998USA

16-12

Muirfield Village, USA
1996USA17-11St. Pierre G&CC, Wales
1994USA13-7The Greenbrier, USA
1992Europe11.5-6.5Dalmahoy CC, Scotland
1990USA11.5-4.5Lake Nona G&CC, USA

The Solheim Cup Format Explained

The Solheim Cup follows the same format as its counterpart, the Ryder Cup. Each team – Team USA and Team Europe – is made up of 12 women who compete in a total over 28 matches over three days. A point is earned for each match win; ties result in each team receiving half a point.

First, let’s explain the type of matches that will be played over the three days:

Foursome Matches

Also known as Alternate Shot, Foursomes is a 2 vs. 2 format so each foursome includes two golfers from the U.S. team and two golfers from the European team. Each team in the foursome plays one ball during the round, with teammates alternating who hits.

Fourball Matches

Sometimes referred to as Better Ball, the Fourball format also consists of two players from each team in each group. All players play their own ball, but only the lower score on each hole counts towards the team total.

Singles Matches

This is typical 1 vs. 1 match play.

Solheim Cup Schedule

On the first day of competition, the teams compete in four foursome matches and four fourball matches. Eight of the 12 members of each team will compete in each of the two sessions on the first day.

The format of the second day is the same as the first – four foursome matches and four fourball matches.

All 12 golfers on each team compete on the last day in 12 head-to-head matches.

The defending champion must score at least 14 points to retain the Solheim Cup while the other team must score at least 14.5 points for victory. This rule puts Team USA at a slight disadvantage heading into the 2021 Solheim Cup.

Past Champions

Juli Inkster is the name most often linked to the U.S. Solheim Cup. Inkster competed in nine Solheim Cup tournaments (1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) and served as team captain in 2013, 2015 and 2019. As a player, Inkster has a 15-12 record and 18.5 points.

Cristie Kerr, who also played in nine Solheim Cup tournaments, has earned the most points of any American with 21.

Who Will Play for the Team USA in the 2021 Solheim Cup?

The criteria for making the U.S. Solheim Cup team was slightly adjusted for the 2021 competition. The selections are now based on:

  • The top seven players on the LPGA Solheim Cup points list
  • The next two highest-ranked eligible players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings
  • Three captain’s picks

Previously, the top eight players from the Solheim Cup Rankings, two from the Rolex Rankings and two captain’s picks made the team.

2021 USA Solheim Cup Team

Here is Team USA's complete lineup for the 2021 Solheim Cup, and how each player made their way onto the roster.

PlayerQualification

Danielle Kang

Solheim Cup Points
Ally EwingSolheim Cup Points
Austin ErnstSolheim Cup Points
Lexi ThompsonSolheim Cup Points
Jessica KordaSolheim Cup Points
Nelly KordaSolheim Cup Points
Megan KhangSolheim Cup Points
Lizette SalasRolex Rankings
Jennifer KupchoRolex Rankings
Brittany AltomareCaptain's Pick
Mina HarigaeCaptain's Pick
Yealimi NohCaptain's Pick


Pat Hurst was Team USA's 2021 Solheim Cup captain. Hurst competed in five Solheim Cup tournaments and served as assistant captain in the previous three competitions.

Image: David Cannon/David Cannon Collection via Getty Images

About the Author

Kellie Noszka is a freelance writer and former sports reporter for the Cincinnati Post. She was a golf caddie for 10 years and earned an Evans Scholarship to The Ohio State University. Kellie developed a deep appreciation for the game of golf at an early age.