On Thursday, My wife and I attended the final practice round of the Solheim Cup being played at the fantastic Rich Harvest Farms golf course in Sugar Grove Illinois.

This article will rate the various experiences we had throughout the day. The LPGA is floundering a bit, losing a number of tournament sponsors, and recently the commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, stepped down. Women’s golf this week takes center stage and needs to score big, both on TV and with the fan base and nothing gets this to happen like a good ol fashioned continental rivalry.

We arrived at the course right as the gates were opening for practice round action. The weather was a little bit like it has been in the midwest most of the summer – windy, a bit rainy and unseasonably cool.

Play was delayed slightly because of the weather, so the spouse and I took up residence near the practice green area to watch some of the United States and European teams finest women golfers warm up for their rounds.

My wife has never attended a major golf event before this week. She was anxious to see many of the LPGA players as well as the greats of the Ladies European Tour (LET). She was also eager to get some autographs and multiple photo opportunities of the players and the course itself.

Our first stop was to hit the merchandise tent. Unfortunately, the Solheim Cup folks had failed to order in enough stock of many items. The tents were already out of pin flags (a popular item for autograph hounds) as well as a number of shirts were limited to just one size and a number of other items were “temporarily out of stock”.  We were informed they had actually run out of many of these items on Wednesday. Score – BOGEY – out of too many items on Wednesday is unacceptable, and as usual many things were way too overpriced.

Rich Harvest Farms is a wonderful golf course. It is not, however, fan friendly to walk. The course is very spread out over a huge amount of land, but the actual golf holes themselves are epic for a match play format. This is a tough golf course with superior bunkering and green complexes. Score – EAGLE

The players were out today completing their final practice round. The course is a long walk, so they took it a bit easy today I am sure to conserve energy for actual play. Mrs. Goodman took the time to rate the best … and worst of each team based strictly on their fan friendliness to the galleries. It is important to note that these opinions in many cases are only based on a thirty second contact, but as well all know, the first impression is the strongest.

European Team

Hole In One – Janice Moody. Actually she DID have a hole in one during Wednesday’s practice round. Janice took time to talk to the gallery, especially young kids and asked them questions. She was outstanding with autograph requests as well as photos.

Birdie – Catriona Matthew. The Women’s Open Championship winner this year was very polite and autographed the ball she was using during the round today and gave it to my wife. That extra bonus definitely moves her up the leaderboard here.

Bogey – Helen Alfredson – Stymied the crowds multiple times and even left her own teammates behind after 9 holes. They went back to the clubhouse, she wanted to play a few more … definitely had her game face on today and nothing else seemed to matter.

Double Bogey – Anna Nordqvist – Was a “No Show” on the course today and when asked by a few folks after the opening ceremonies about getting a photo or autograph, she looked exceedingly un-impressed.

Team USA

Eagle – Brittany Lang seemed to genuinely interact with the people and took a LOT of time signing autographs along the way.

Tap In Birdie – Angela Stanford – again was interacting with everyone along the way and after the opening ceremonies, she waited off to the side and took pictures with ANYONE who wanted one.

Birdie – Kristy Mc Pherson– The former Big Break star is still trying to make an impression with the fans, and succeeding.

Bogey – Paula Creamer – The Pinkster is no doubt one of the fan favorites. She is also one of the most saught after of the United States Players. She was the only person on the course my wife did not get an autograph from today, and sadly my wife wasn’t the only person that could say that. Paula did her best, but when others are taking all the time needed at every stop, and you are a player who is not, it stands out.

Triple Bogey – Natalie Gulbis. A fan favorite for some folks the REAL fan favorite was totally incognito today except for the opening ceremony. Cmon Natalie, you left too many guys disappointed.

And to end the day, the X on the scorecard goes to the parking at the Solheim Cup. We left immediately after the opening ceremonies took place and it took us almost 90 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. REALLY – take a lesson from other major tournaments with much larger crowds. There is no excuse for that type of delay.

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to see the real action on Friday.

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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