The Solheim Cup Format Explained

The format for the Solheim Cup is two days of doubles match play using foursomes and fourballs, followed by a final day of singles match play. It is a three-day competition between teams of women professional golfers representing the United States and Europe.

Twenty-eight points are at stake over the those three days, which break down like this:

  • Day 1: One session of four foursomes matches, and another session of four fourball matches, 8 points total at stake. The two formats are split — one is used in a morning session, the other in an afternoon session. In each session, eight of the 12 golfers on each team are in play.
  • Day 2: Another 8 points at stake, in the same manner as on Day 1: morning/afternoon sessions, foursomes/fourball as the formats.
  • Day 3: 12 singles (one vs. one) matches, 12 points at stake. All 12 golfers on both teams play on the final day.
What are foursomes and fourball?
  • Foursomes is also known as alternate shot. Two golfers play as partners, but they use only one golf ball and alternate playing the strokes.
  • Fourball is a better-ball format: Two golfers play as partners, but each plays her own golf ball. The lower of the partners' scores counts as the team's score on each hole.
The team (USA or Europe) that is defending champion entering a Solheim Cup must win 14 of the 28 points to retain the Cup. The other team must win 14.5 points to take the Cup.

How the Solheim Cup Format Evolved to What It Is Now

The Solheim Cup format changed a couple times in the early years of the event. At the very first one, the 1990 Solheim Cup, only 16 matches were played (meaning just 16 points were at stake): four foursomes on Day 1, four fourballs on Day 2, eight singles on Day 3.

That increased to 18 points at stake in 1992 (the addition of two singles matches on Day 3), and 20 in 1994 (one additional match each of foursomes and fourballs).

In 1996, the competition adopted the format that is currently in use, as described above.

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