I decided to write this with about an hour left of play on Saturday evening. I wanted to put the emphasis back on the golf; to try and unravel some of the intricacies that cause the nature of golf and the nature of humans to intertwine so tightly, with such complexity, in a manner that I think is worth understanding. A manner that makes this particular Solheim Cup so deeply fascinating; on the 26 individual pages of every player and captain; and one collective page of women’s golf.
I wanted to draw the emphasis towards that, and away from the one factor undercutting all of that quiet brilliance… before I realised, in that ensuing hour, that that factor is doing more than undercutting; it’s dominating.
Six hour rounds that are stirring social media disgust, fan apathy and journalistic impasse. I was going to address it, but dismissively, because as Thomas Bjorn tweeted, the Solheim Cup is not the place to fix it. The course, circumstances and conditions have all magnified an issue that very much exists over the last two days, but those that truly understand golf should know that this Solheim Cup is worth more than that.
I believe as strongly as anyone, and more so after that last 48 hours, that it is an issue that golf desperately needs to do something forceful about, an issue that governing bodies and rules officials need to have one clearly defined solution on, an enforceable solution that does not lend itself to bowing down to player stature and broadcasting necessities. That needs to happen. And fast. While social media sways more in the direction of worthless, unfounded opinions, the consensus of validity here is undeniable.
But it does not, and should not, define this Solheim Cup. This Solheim Cup is offering us too much to let the laziest story smear it.
And as I thought about it, I realised the slow play factor only adds to the picture I wanted to paint. The picture of Gleneagles and the Solheim Cup, the picture of gale force winds and chilling temperatures, the picture of the quiet determination of Catriona Matthew and the extroverted competitiveness of Juli Inkster, the picture of experience and respect trying to prove that they don’t have a point to prove and young, fearless talent standing, folding and trying to stand again as those blind-to fears stare them down.
Golf is hard. What seems predictable is inevitably unpredictable and what is unpredictable eventually seems predictable. We try to create narratives that create themselves. And really, we should all know better. In the end, it is golf that decides what happens. It is only about who can refuse to let their story end with the most insistence.
The intense competitor that rouses the crowd and pulls a team onto its feet, pulls so hard that she knocks herself over. The flawless golf swing that paves superstardom flails under the microseconds of technical imperfections invisible to everyone except a new moment in time. The solidity of experience crumbles ever so slightly in the magnifying glass of the end. And yet, the tired, over-battled duo who have finally run out of steam breathe in again. Breathe life again. Breathe a win again. And the sisters seemingly a step above everyone else, sat out and watched everyone else. The Americans who verbally bit off more than they could chew without backing it up, suddenly swallowed it and found their voices again. Climbed up the ladder of their words. The Americans who were just too cold, who wanted a warm bath and hot food and no referees and to be anywhere else in the world, lit a fire in the fading light that’ll burn until tomorrow.
In the end, one team will win. But every player will have beaten, and lost to, golf and its own complexity… a million times along the way. Definitely slowly at times, but stick with it. Because golf is beautiful in its brutality. And that’s worth watching.