Solheim Cup format: How it works, scoring
Unlike a typical women’s professional golf tournament, the Solheim Cup is contested in a series of matches over a three-day period. You can read about the Solheim Cup format and scoring below.
Solheim Cup format
The Solheim Cup is a biennial competition between players from the United States and continental Europe. Each team has 12 players.
There are a total of 28 matches contested over the course of three days. Each match is worth one point. Eight team matches are played on the first and second days of the Solheim Cup, four in the morning and four in the afternoon, and 12 singles matches are played on the third and final day of the competition.
Foursomes — also called alternate shot — is the first team format that will be played at the 2023 Solheim Cup. Only eight of each team’s 12 players participate. In foursomes, one player tees off and that player’s partner hits the next shot. The two alternate, hitting the same ball, until the ball is holed. The players also alternate who tees off on each hole. The lowest score between each pair wins that hole.
The second Solheim Cup team format is four-ball, also called better-ball. Four-ball will be played in the afternoon session, after the morning foursomes session on Days 1 and 2. In four-ball, only eight players of the 12 participate from each team. But in this format, each player plays her own ball. The lowest score of the pair on each hole counts for the team, and the lowest score between opposing pairs wins the hole.
In singles matches, all 12 players from each team participate. Singles matches are the grand finale of the Solheim Cup. While the outcome of the Solheim Cup may be decided before all 12 matches are complete, the players still finish for posterity.
Solheim Cup scoring
Unlike a regular LPGA event in which stroke play (where every shot counts) is the dominant format, the Solheim Cup features match play.
In match play, each hole has a potential value of one. Winning a hole with a score lower than your opponent means you are 1 up. Ties are not awarded any points, nor do they carry over to subsequent holes. Finishing the hole by holing out is not mandatory. Shots can be conceded by a player’s opponent, and if a player is beaten on a hole, they can pick up their ball and move on. Regardless of what a player’s score is, the value of the hole in terms of scoring is always just one.
The match is over when a player’s advantage is greater than the number of holes left. For example, if a player wins the 16th hole to go 3 up, the score of the match would reflect a 3&2 win: 3 up with 2 holes to play. The players do not continue playing once a match is over.
If a match is tied on the 18th hole, it remains so in scoring. Players do not go extra holes.
Each of the 28 Solheim Cup matches is worth one point. Players or teams that win a match will claim that point. For tied matches, the point is shared — 0.5 points each. No points are awarded for a loss.
This year, the European team needs to reach 14 points in order to retain the Solheim Cup, while the Americans need to reach 14.5 points to reclaim it.
The Solheim Cup begins on September 22 in Spain. You can watch the coverage starting at 2 a.m. ET on Golf Channel and Peacock.