As you watch the golden-orange sunrise over Lake Erie, there is a quiet anticipation of what’s next. With the 17th edition of the Solheim Cup approaching at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, the same emotion can be felt. While players, members and staff have unwittingly conspired to make awesome golf history for more than a century, the rolling fairways are misted with a whisper of glory. The superintendent will lead the team in preparing these holy places John Zimmer and its deputy head, Ryan Kaczor and Carlton Henry.
“I’m thrilled,” says Henry. “This is the best place to play golf right now. Inverness has undergone a major renovation, women’s golf is booming and our society is returning to normal. All of these things come together. I couldn’t be more excited. ”
The staff is highly motivated and the countdown is on, because professional golfers from the USA and Europe will take part in the team competition that takes place every two years at the Solheim Cup. Team training begins on August 31st and four-ball and four-ball games are played on September 4th and 5th. Team USA need 14½ points to win back the Cup of Europe, won in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2019. The competition ends on September 6th with 12 individual games.
Pressure is no stranger, Zimmer has been doing special things since the beginning of his career. As a young superintendent, he helped oversee the construction and growth of the Sand Ridge Golf Club in Chardon, Ohio. He moved to Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh in 1998 and, over the course of 18 years, helped host the 2003 US Amateur, 2007 US Open, 2010 US Women’s Open and, with Henry and Kaczor on the team, the 2016 US Open.
They all moved to Inverness in 2017 and their compatibility has increased productivity. Started by bringing the course back to its original state Donald Ross Design with an architect Andrew Green and the construction company McDonald & Sons, they next hosted the US Junior Amateur, the LPGA Drive On Championship in 2019 – at short notice in 2020 – and they are completing the preparations for the Solheim Cup.
When working with Zimmer, Kaczor says, “He really cares about you and he is as professional as anyone can be. If you give him 100 percent, he’ll give you 200, 300 percent back. He is passionate about what he does and he goes out of his way to make the course what it is. He accommodates the employees and really supports the people. ”This loyalty is omnidirectional.
“We were lucky enough to keep our employees through the challenges of last year. Some of our summer aid has also returned, ”says Zimmer. “Everyone is looking forward to the Solheim Cup and we have tried to create a really good working environment. This is important. It is very, very difficult to find help. ”There are several women in the workforce who are great contributors and the team works with a full contingent of agronomy volunteers, many of whom Zimmer has worked together before, and offer a further level of competence.
“If there was a big challenge, it was that 90 percent of the employees had never taken part in such a big event,” says Zimmer. “While this is happening, with the expansion and the makeshift roads, employees are asking, ‘What are you doing?’ and i let them know what to expect. I’m looking forward to the event. We will let a lot of people realize that they were part of something worthwhile and very, very special. “
The championship conditions are consistently enjoyed by the members, but there will be some changes to the track for the Solheim Cup. Working with the same team at LPGA that worked on the Drive On Championship, a late addition to the revised 2020 LPGA schedule, was helpful and a visit to Team USA in mid-July helped solidify the details.
Everyone wants to see the ladies play # 18, a signature hole. Think about Paul Azinger‘s victory in the 1993 PGA Championship Playoff, or Bob Tway‘s victory at the PGA in 1986 when he stepped out of the bunker. In match play, the players do not always reach 18th place, so the numbers 9 and 18 are swapped, a clever shift.
The first and 10th tees are also combined, usually with a small putting green in between to warm up. The entire tee will be wrapped in grandstands and there will be an excellent view for this rough area to begin the front and back nine where fans can also see the green complex of # 9 (usually # 18). Lots of action, lots of cheers.
With the event taking place in late summer, it is important to keep the lawn as healthy as possible through July and August and applications will be adjusted accordingly. In order to normalize areas outside the ropes after the event, some locations will need to be re-sown and a full growing season carried out, meaning the entire property will not fully return to normal until spring 2022.
The Solheim Cup also differs in that the audience, which is expected to reach around 20,000 people a day, is concentrated on a few holes and not spread over the entire course. There is a schedule for pedestrian traffic and the entire event will be a source of pride for Inverness players, members and staff.
Player and pride
The Meijer Pavilion is centrally located and is one of the largest structures to be built at a women’s golf event. There will be live music daily and there will be open-air and air-conditioned seating. In 2019, Inverness “installed microfiber underground all along the route, so there are countless areas to connect. That’s something pretty unique and all of the tents will have livestream TV, says Henry.
The staff appreciate advances in technology like electric mowers which obviously save a lot of hydraulics, some of the new insecticides and fungicides, lightweight mowers and new aerators, but the focus is on the basics – how to water, how to spray and more. The staff is trained in the basics and supplemented with new technologies.
Inverness has always been at the forefront of thoughtfulness and consideration. In 1920 Inverness opened its clubhouse to players competing in the US Open, which was unprecedented. Walter Hagen “handed the hat” to the players in order to collect them for the “Hagener Uhr”. This gratefully given grandfather clock still strikes every full hour in the entrance area of the clubhouse.
In 2020, the USGA Green Section celebrated its 100th anniversary and the lawn care facility was dedicated to EJ Marshall, the chairman of the Inverness Green Committee, who noticed brown spots and consulted with the USGA and the US Department of Agriculture about the greens before the 1920s revive US Open. The cooperative USGA Green Section emerged from this collaboration.
It was the Inverness members who decided to share their course and assist the LPGA on their return to play for the Drive On Championship amid COVID-19. McDonald & Sons, Zimmer and his staff are also helping grow 40 acres adjacent to Inverness for the Lake Erie section of First Tee, where Green has designed a soccer field, driving range and short game area. Inverness is contributing to the community and Toledo has campaigned for the Solheim Cup by adding a new intersection near the club to ease traffic, work on infrastructure projects and invest in downtown for locals and golf fans alike .
“This is a top 100 club in the world and people really care about you and support you,” says Kaczor. Membership has expanded across the country, with new guests being welcomed every day, and “Members ask how you are, how is your family doing, and they appreciate our hard work,” Kaczor adds. While nothing is perfect, good relationships among staff, management, and members make common goals – like a first class venue – achievable.
With all his experience, Zimmer recognizes that every event is different. Understanding agreements with vendors and volunteers and sourcing additional rental equipment is helpful, but he still gets nervous. “I’ve done enough to know that the weather can be really devastating,” says Zimmer. “You can’t bother with it, but if we take that into account, we’re better prepared. You look at things and think, ‘This can be better.’ We really just want to do our best to represent the club and make everyone proud. “
“The course is going very well. The board of directors and the membership get all honors. You had to make some tough decisions and we are so busy. We made changes, but kept the story and received rave reviews. ”The customer review has been automatically translated from German.
The ladies don’t tee off for a few more weeks, but winning whispers prevails. Rooms, Kaczor, Henry and the Inverness people talk to each other and take care of each other, the players and the community. It was a steady resurgence. Cheering on at the Solheim Cup is encouraged and the good news is that Inverness is about to get loud.
Lee Carr is a citizen of the United States and Ireland. During the week of the Solheim Cup, she will be cheering on women’s golf.
Make history at the Inverness Club
1916: Donald Ross extends the layout of the Inverness Club from 9 to 18 holes
1920: Competing professionals at the US Open are given locker room access
1979: US Open in Inverness after redesign of George Fazio and Tom Fazio
1993: Inverness listed on the National Register of Historic Places
1994-98: John Zimmer directs construction / growth / opening at Sand Ridge Golf Club
1999: Zimmer becomes superintendent at Oakmont Country Club
November 2016: Inverness announced as the venue for the 2021 Solheim Cup
April 2017: Zimmer becomes superintendent at Inverness
April 2018: Inverness course refurbished / restored in Ross design
June 2021: Course structure begins
August 31st September 06.02.2021: The 17th Solheim Cup
In addition to the agronomic staff, who make everything possible, and the elite players who fight for every point, there is a crowd of celebrities at the Solheim Cup. Gwen Stefani, a three-time Grammy winner, will conduct the concert in Toledo’s Promenade Park after the opening ceremony on September 3rd. The captain of Team USA is Pat Hurst, who has six LPGA titles, played in five Solheim Cup teams and has been assistant captain for three. Are assistant captains for the USA in 2021 Michelle How and Angela Stanford. The captain for Europe is Catriona Matthewwho played in nine Solheim Cups before leading the European team to victory in their native Scotland at Gleneagles in 2019. She holds the OBE (Order of the British Empire) award for her services to golf. Are assistant captains for Europe Laura Davies, Kathryn Imrie and Suzann Pettersen. There will be no further Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesín Golf Club in Málaga, Spain until 2023. The Solheim Cup will be postponed to even years from 2024. The 2024 event will be held in the United States at a location to be announced.