Ladies Golf News 1st Aug, 2019 by ukclubgolfer.co.uk
The Ladies European Tour’s CEO Mark Lichtenhein has said that this year’s Solheim Cup in Scotland in September is “going to be the biggest ever in Europe.”
Lichtenhein, responsible for developing the LET tour and its commercial activities, also spoke about the positive trajectory women’s golf finds itself on during an exclusive interview with UK Club Golfer.
“This is going to be the biggest Solheim Cup in Europe so far and, having worked with the Scottish Government on the Ryder Cup in 2014, we have full confidence it’s going to be the best we have ever had.
“I think with the tailwind we have behind women’s sport right now, as has been seen with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, is excellent. We have highlights on the BBC for the first time for a home match which is great. We are getting live coverage on Sky and hopefully get the biggest audience possible.”
Host venue Gleneagles is set to attract over 100,000 supporters through the gates while the tournament is to be beamed to 600 million homes worldwide.
Lichtenhein, pictured above with Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew, says the contest has reached new heights.
“The Solheim Cup is one of the biggest events in women’s sport now, let alone in golf. There is not many other big women’s tournaments that get that attention.
“I think because it’s one of the few events in golf where you are playing as a team, it adds an edge and it brings a lot of people on board, even if they are not avid followers of women’s golf week in, week out.”
Lichtenhein said the growth of the Solheim Cup is indicative of women’s golf as a whole.
“More people get exposed to the Solheim Cup as it gets bigger and bigger, drawing more interest. That’s a very helpful development for us as we look to grow women’s golf in Europe and around the world.”
The LET is looking to build upon the added interest that a European Solheim Cup brings, with plans to grow the main women’s tour in Europe over the next few years.
“I think it’s a major showcase for us and an opportunity for us to bring, not only our current partners, but future partners together. In the June and July months, we should be playing in Scandinavia and Central Europe but we are currently not doing that. We have good projects in the pipeline on those fronts in the next few years.
Lichtenhein also mentioned that regaining the confidence of golf federations across Europe will be crucial.
“We need to have our core market supporting women’s golf. It does already in France and Spain where we have terrific support from the federations but that’s not reflected in the same way in central Europe. It’s taken a little bit of time to get that confidence back, but sitting down and talking to the local federations has helped. Hopefully that continues to improve and change in the coming years.”
With initial plans to add a few more events brewing, the LET CEO said he wants ten more events on the LET by 2024.
“I think if we can get to 30 events in the next four or five years, then that is a sustainable future for the LET. That then means there is a viable alternative to players who want to earn a living playing golf but can’t or don’t want to go to America.”
Lichtenhein added that, despite the draw of the LPGA in women’s golf, it’s crucial for the LET to maintain its pull.
“I don’t see why there has to be just one main tour because I think that would be detrimental to the growth of golf in Europe.
“Europe needs to have a sustainable future in golf in order to have the best Europeans to be able to compete with the best players in the world.”