By The 2017 European Solheim Cup Captain, Annika
It’s now less than 30 days until the 2017 Solheim Cup in Des Moines. With on-the-ground logistics all taken care of, our complete focus is now on the team and potential players. When I was appointed captain roughly 18 months ago, I had about 30 players on my radar. That number has slowly gotten smaller. Today we’re looking closely at around 16 players who have a chance to represent Europe in one month.
As I approach this part of the captaincy, I ask myself, “What’s a team?” A dictionary definition is, “A group of people participating in a sport with a common purpose.” And what makes a great team? Well, it starts at the top. The best leaders and sports coaches share a number of common, important attributes — be a mentor, be organized, reinforce positive thinking, be inspirational, create a harmonious environment, and utilize the players’ skills. I keep coming back to a few tactics employed by two legendary basketball coaches: the University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit, and U.C.L.A. men’s basketball John Wooden. Coach Summit always liked to say, “Our emphasis is on execution, not winning,” while Coach Wooden was a master at inspiring his players with short messages to help them rise to the occasion.
Above all else, the primary responsibility facing captains, coaches and CEOs is to make sure the team they’ve built is the right team for the task. In this case, the right team is one with players who possess certain skill sets and attributes. We’re keeping our eyes on ladies who’re currently playing well. We’re also seeking players who have match play skills and experience, as well as individuals who are team players, i.e. ladies who mix well with others and are easy to work with. In any team situations, unplanned and unforeseen incidents happen. Therefore, despite being fully prepared, we also need our team members to be flexible.
Many players are peaking at just the right time, meaning the team announcement on Sunday, August 6 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open will not be easy. It’s been an honor to closely follow their play over the last 18 months, and I’m really excited by how Team Europe is shaping up.