TOLEDO, Ohio — One of the Midwest's most illustrious clubs is ready to add another marquee event to its legacy.
The 2021 Solheim Cup takes place Sept. 4-6 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where 24 of the top American and European women golfers will do battle on a venerable Donald Ross design that, thanks to a recent restoration, has never looked better.
Tournament organizers are anticipating record crowds of close to 150,000 on a compact routing where roars will be heard from end-to-end of the property. The matches will begin in adrenaline-inducing fashion. The 1st and 10th tees are normally separated by a small putting green. Instead, they will share a tee in the center (where the green typically is) and it will be enveloped on three sides by grandstands.
Expect an electric atmosphere throughout, even if the crowds are more one-sided than usual due to international travel restrictions.
Inverness' routing is clever, navigating rolling land and a creek that curves along some holes and runs dead-straight through others. Most holes run parralel and it's a compact property ideal for live spectating. Holes play close to one another and in one spot on the course, six greens (Nos. 2, 4, 5, 11, 12, 14) are quite close to one another. It's near this confluence that the Meijer Pavilion has been constructed to afford prime viewing of these holes as well as F&B and hospitality. It's the largest-ever structure for a women's pro golf event. Fans behind the 10th green can also watch action close by at the 11th tee, 1st green and par-5 13th. Natural bowls behind Nos. 15 and 17 should also ensure thrilling theater.
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Inverness will require precision and patience
Big events are in the Inverness DNA and the inspiration behind extensive restorations and updates to the course, which included additional land, leading up to the 2021 Solheim Cup. The course reopened in 2018 following an extensive restoration by Andrew Green that undid a lot of what a 1970s renovation by Tom and George Fazio instilled onto the Ross design. Inverness relishes its history and has plenty on display both in the clubhouse and around the course.
In recent years, the women's pro game has significantly upgraded the quality of its venues for marquee tournaments and Inverness is the latest example. The pride of Toledo, it's considered one of Ross' best works. Narrow fairways with crafty angles and bunker placements will make it a precision course off the tee. Approach shots will be very demanding.
Many Solheim Cup players got a preview of the new-look Inverness when it hosted the inaugural 2020 Drive On Championship. It was the first event back for the LPGA following the COVID-19 stoppage and provided a rare chance for players to see a Solheim Cup course in advance. Team USA's Danielle Kang won the 54-hole tournament at 7-under, while Celine Boutier, a captain's pick for Team Europe, finished one back.
“I think the best way I can put it is you have to respect the golf course," Kang told LPGA.com. "The golf course changes so often, and you can't take little shots for granted. I just try and keep as much focus as possible and not let the golf course get to me and try and play the course instead of fighting it.”
Said Angela Stanford: "There is so much to it, and I knew right away why it's been a major golf course and held championships and why it's a Solheim course. You have to think on every situation off the tee, into the greens, and around the greens.”
“I love challenging golf courses. It is a very tough golf course,” said USA's Lexi Thompson prior to the Drive On Championship. "If you play for the right amount of bounce-out, especially in the fairways and into the greens, I think it'll be a lot of par holes. If you hit it to the middle of the green, just take your two-putt and get off the hole.
"I think you can make some moves out there, and then on the few birdie holes that you can access pins, you have to take advantage of those."
The course is set to play as a par 72 at the Solheim Cup (6,903 yards) but in unique fashion has just three par 5s and three par 3s, with the last par 3 coming on the 12th hole. Some of the best match play venues feature a lot of "half-par" holes or birdie opportunities down the stretch. But for those players down in their match on the back nine, it will be difficult to put the pedal to the metal. Following the par-5 13th hole, Inverness closes with five difficult par 4s. Even the legendary short 18th hole, despite its short yardage, has a lot of potential for peril. Pars, especially in foursomes, will be very welcomed.
Inverness Club: Hole-by-hole
No. 1 | Par 4 | 394 yards
A straightaway par 4 with bunkers down the left, depending on where the tees are, big-hitters could get their balls all the way down the hill for a shorter, but uphill approach shot.
No. 2 | Par 5 | 487 yards
Tactical driving thanks to subtle doglegs and well-placed fairway bunkers are a constant theme at Inverness. The 2nd hole, usually a par 4, will play as a par 5 for the Solheim Cup, though an alternate tee under 400 yards may also be used during competition.
No. 3 | Par 3 | 207 yards
The longest par 3 on the course, the third heads gently downhill and has plenty of room in front. A secondary tee may be used at 161 yards.
No. 4 | Par 4 | 398 yards
The first real standout par 4 on the front nine, the creek makes its presence felt down the left side. For match play, testing the left side can give you a shorter shot into the green but the creek and a tree lie in wait. A bunker awaits bailouts, however.
No. 5 | Par 3 | 172 yards
Two bunkers guard either side of the undulating green of this par 3, whose angle or yardage could change considerably day-to-day up to as short of a tee shot as 141 yards.
No. 6 | Par 4 | 430 yards
Another elevated green awaits on this long par 4, another one where golfers may catch a downslope on their drives for a shorter but uphill approach shot in.
No. 7 | Par 4 | 434 yards
A focal point of the front nine is the 7th hole: a long par 4 that needs no bunkers to prove fearsome. It features a fairway that snakes around a creek that lines the right side. Depending on where the tees are set up, long-hitters could carry the right portion of the creek leaving them with a short and more visible approach into the green. A bailout left leaves players with a lie in rough and a partially blind approach thanks to a hill into an elevated green that has steep runoffs into rough if you miss.
No. 8 | Par 5 | 560 yards
Famous for the "Hinkle Tree" that is no longer there, this long par 5 is narrow off the tee and then heads left, going downhill and back up. Bunkers await in the layup zone. If the tees get moved up to 522 yards, expect more of the field to go for the green in two shots.
No. 9 | Par 4 | 358 yards
The 9th and 18th holes at Inverness have been swapped for the Solheim Cup, so every match will play the fearsome, short par-4 finishing hole that features a well-protected and small, sloping green.
No. 10 | Par 4 | 391 yards
A short par 4, golfers can decide how aggressive they want to be off the tee and hit either a full short iron from the top of the hill or flip in a soft one from just in front of the creek. The green is one of the smallest on the course with grassy mounds on each side. This amphitheatre setting should also be one of the more raucus areas on the grounds.
No. 11 | Par 4 | 378 yards
This short par 4 is a gentle dogleg right that runs parallel to the 2nd hole. Fairway bunkers choke the fairway considerably. Players will be surveying the pin location and thinking about an angle of attack into the green for birdie. A tee from 268 yards may also be used, providing the chance for eagles in a spot on the course where there are plenty of fans.
No. 12 | Par 3 | 158 yards
Inverness has just three par 3s and the 12th is the last one. It's also the shortest, listed for the Solheim at just 152 yards. It's encircled by rough and bunkers and has a sneaky-tough green to putt.
No. 13 | Par 5 | 504 yards
At just over 500 yards, the final par 5 on the course is a green light special. Golfers will tee off to a tumbling fairway that may yield a tricky stance. A creek adds a little stress to a layup from rough, while those who go for the green in two shots will need to make sure they carry the rough-filled slope in front.
No. 14 | Par 4 | 420 yards
A long and tactical driving hole, the 14th heads gently right. A row of bunkers guard the left side while a handful of rare trees hug the right.
No. 15 | Par 4 | 417 yards
The 15th is an excellent par 4 that should attract crowds. An approach shot from the fairway will head slightly downhill into the green.
No. 16 | Par 4 | 411 yards
The 16th is a clever, gentle dogleg par 4 with a green whose pin locations can be tucked behind bunkers and ridges.
No. 17 | Par 4 | 411 yards
Here's a view from behind the 17th hole. The fairway doglegs left and then heads downhill. A right-to-left tee shot can yield a significantly shorter approach, but bunkers defend the right and high grass beyond is dead.
No. 18 | Par 4 | 373 yards
The normal 9th hole at Inverness, the finishing hole is a short-ish, dogleg right with one of the more sloping greens on the course.
Solheim Cup: How to Watch
All Times ET
Saturday, September 4
Morning Foursomes | Afternoon Fourballs
7:30 AM – 12:30 PM GOLF Channel
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM NBC
2:30 PM – 6:00 PM GOLF Channel
Sunday, September 5
Morning Foursomes | Afternoon Fourballs
7:30am – 12:00pm GOLF Channel
12:00pm – 1:30pm NBC
1:30pm – 6:00pm GOLF Channel
Monday, September 6 (Labor Day)
Singles Matches and Closing Ceremony
12:00pm – 6:00pm GOLF Channel