This exclusive insight into the Solheim Cup is part of “Fan XP” – a newsletter designed to keep you abreast of the latest innovations, strategies and more regarding fan experience across the globe. To sign up, please click here.
The Solheim Cup, the biennial clash between Europe and the United States’ leading women’s golfers, will play out over one of the sport’s iconic courses this week, with organisers seeking to turn the event into a festival-style experience.
Taking place at Gleneagles from September 9-15, the match play showpiece returns to Scotland, the ‘Home of Golf’, for the first time since 2000. The home team will be seeking inspiration from Europe’s thrilling Ryder Cup win on the same PGA Centenary Course back in 2014 as it aims to prevent a third successive US triumph.
From a fan experience perspective, organisers will attempt to strike a balance between golf-themed activities and more entertainment-based offerings, while ensuring the 2019 Solheim Cup appeals to a diverse demographic.
“It was really important to us to appeal to a wide range of people, including those who have not been to a golf event before,” a spokesperson for the organisers tells Fan XP.
“We have made it free entry for those aged 16 and under to encourage families to come for a day out, and we have included lots of entertainment and activations for non-golf fans, such as live music and a great choice of food and drink.
“We are aiming to create a festival-like atmosphere which goes beyond what’s happening on the course. That being said, it’s a global golf event and it’s equally important to attract golf and general sports enthusiasts, hence why we have plenty of golf-themed activities and experiences as well.”
The organisers said that while they have sought to ensure the Solheim Cup fan experience extends to everyone, families have been a focal point. This extends to the ticketing strategy, which goes beyond free access to those aged under 16 by offering special ‘family’ passes.
For the tournament itself, running from September 13-15, family passes for one or two adults, along with up to six children, are priced at £40/£80 for days one and two, and £50/£100 for the final day. These passes also provide access to a dedicated covered family area with child-friendly furniture, interactive activities, high chairs and baby-changing facilities.
Regarding the main fan experience activities on offer, the spokesperson says: “There is a Golf Zone with PING swing nets and coaches on hand to offer guidance, crazy golf and a long putt challenge. We want people to be inspired by what they see on the course and tempted to give it a go themselves, whether they are already good players or have never picked up a club before.
“There’s also a Kids’ Zone with a children’s version of crazy golf, soft play and an area where they can go on ride-on tractors provided by one of our suppliers, John Deere.”
The organisers added: “We have a Family Area designated for parents to bring their children for indoor activities, such as arts and crafts, Wii console games and a kids’ cinema room.
“This will be located next to the Kids Zone in the PING Golf Zone. Unlike a crèche, parents will have the opportunity to bring their kids to the area and enjoy a sit-down break whilst still being able to watch the live golf, via two TV screens.”
The Opening Ceremony on September 12 has also been highlighted as a focus of the fan experience plans, with Scottish pop rock band Texas signed up as the headline act.
“There will be a whole afternoon of live entertainment on the main stage, from world-famous bands such as Texas and Bjorn Again to trick shot shows to Morrison’s Academy Pip Band,” the spokesperson says. “Well-known sports presenters Andrew Cotter and Di Dougherty are hosting the afternoon, which will build up to the excitement of the Captains introducing their teams and announcing the following day’s pairings for the first session.”
Space to work with
Scotland is a familiar destination for the Solheim Cup with previous editions having taken place at Loch Lomond Golf Club in 2000 and Dalmahoy Country Club in 1992. Organisers believe the staging of this year’s tournament at Gleneagles has afforded an opportunity to optimise the fan experience.
“The beauty of a site like Gleneagles is having so much space to work with, giving us the ability to have lots of activities – golf-related or otherwise – catering for a wide range of people,” the spokesperson adds. “The Golf Zone is a great opportunity to try swinging a club or a putter for the first time, and expert coaches will be on hand to give their tips and make it fun – whether that’s for a single-figure handicapper or complete beginner.
“The main aims of the Solheim Cup are to a) provide a great day out, and b) give a wide spectrum of people the chance to be bitten by the golf bug and be inspired to try out this great game, particularly children and young people.”