The countdown clock in the groundskeeper’s staff lounge serves as a constant reminder of the time remaining before the 2021 Solheim Cup at the historic Inverness Club.
In addition to making sure every blade of grass on the course is in as pristine shape as possible, mowed to the correct length, all divots repaired, branches, brush and other debris removed, Grounds Superintendent John Zimmers and his crew also work with those contractors responsible for installing all the temporary structures around the course.
“We have installed temporary gravel roads to allow for the large cranes and trucks to get to their destinations on the course to set up the large tents, complete with electricity, air conditioning and other amenities. We have to mark all of the sprinkler heads before and also have to be aware of everything that is underground so we can help guide the sites for these structures,” Zimmers reported. “In addition to our regular turf maintenance, we have been involved with the set up of structures for the past two months.” Red, white and blue skyboxes will flank the number one and 10 tees.
Tents are everywhere, from covering the baby pool to the clubhouse roof overlooking what will be the Tournament Nine-Hole, to the large tent across the fairway and green. The ninth and 18th holes will be swapped because of the match play of the tournament, enabling the maximum number of spectators to view tournament play. “Chances are that the match will be over before the players reach the 18th hole,” Zimmers predicted.
The Meijer tent, which overlooks holes two, four, five, 11 and 14, is possibly the largest tent structure ever built, according to Zimmers.
Many of these tents provide sponsors and their guests ideal viewing opportunities. Others will house food service and all the necessities required for this type of large event.
“The Solheim teams will play the same course that our members play. We did not alter anything except to interchange the ninth and 18th holes. However, during the tournament, we will hand water the course in addition to our regular mowing and maintenance routines,” Zimmers explained.
“And at tournament end, we have the responsibility of reclaiming the golf course as quickly as we can,” he said.
No stranger to national tournaments, Zimmers formerly served as greens superintendent at the historic Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh, Penn. While there, he also oversaw a number of major tournaments.
Zimmers and his wife relocated to the Inverness Club five years ago where he marshaled an extensive golf course renovation.
“The members decided to restore the course to the original Donald Ross design from 1903 where he was able to incorporate the undulating terrain. As we are a national historic landmark it only makes sense to preserve our history in this way, too. Architect Andrew Green searched the USGA archives to make this possible,” he observed. “And, inside the clubhouse, our rich history has been preserved and is also on display thanks to long-time member Jack Kerin who has created a pictorial diorama of golf memories throughout the building.
“Inverness is such a treasure in golf! We are ready to be in the international spotlight.”
Inverness Club boasts rich history
The Donald Ross-designed Inverness Club boasts a major championship pedigree having hosted many of the premier championships in golf including four U.S. Opens (1920, 1931, 1957, 1979), two PGA Championships (1986, 1993), the 2003 and 2011 U.S. Senior Open Championships and, most recently, the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur.
Inverness Club has forged a place of distinction in professional golf. Opening in 1903, the historic club has been the site of 12 championships, including four U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships. Byron Nelson, who served as head golf professional from 1940 to 1944, recognized Inverness Club as his home course. S.P. Jermain, their first Board President, was credited with conceiving the idea of the Ryder Cup. The championship course was designed by the renowned architect Donald Ross.
About the Solheim Cup:
The Solheim Cup combines the tradition and prestige of the game of golf with passion for one’s country and continent. This biennial international match-play competition features the best U.S. players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the best European players from the Ladies European Tour (LET).
The Solheim Cup is named in honor of Karsten Solheim, the founder of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, which makes PING golf equipment. In 1990, the Solheim family, in conjunction with the LPGA and the LET, developed the concept and became the title sponsor for the Solheim Cup. Today, the Global Partners of the Solheim Cup are PING, Rolex and Marathon Petroleum.
Held every two years, the event has grown into the most prestigious international women’s professional golf team event. The 2021 Solheim Cup will be held at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, on Sept. 4-6. In 2019, Team Europe took a thrilling 14.5-13.5 victory at Gleneagles in Scotland, a thrilling win that came down to the final putt. Team USA leads Team Europe, 10-6, all-time in Solheim Cup competition.