The Solheim Cup brings out the best in players. And at the same time also the worst. In several previous editions, the limit of permissibility was sought and perhaps exceeded. This led to incidents that were discussed for a long time. How is that?
The Solheim Cup guarantees a spectacle, with the three-day competition between the best golfers from Europe and the United States proving enough since 1990. The two teams meet again this week at Finca Cortesin, Spain. What are the chances that things will get hot? We’ll see from Friday.
I’ve never seen anything like it in my career
In 2015, the confrontation escalated between the Europeans Susan Petersen and Charlie Hall and the Americans Brittany Lincecome and the rising Allison Lee. On the 17th green, Lee picked up her ball near the hole, thinking her opponent had made the short putt. In match play, you do this when you anticipate that your opponent is likely to shoot the ball anyway. Then you say that “you can get the hit” or give a clear signal. But after Lee, who thought he sensed that signal when Hull had already moved off the green, picked up the ball, Pietersen stepped in and said the putt had not been awarded. So Lee broke one of the rules by catching the ball and the USA lost that gap and ultimately the game by one point…and that caused a huge uproar. Hal burst into tears, because she really wasn’t responsible for this. Norwegian made this decision without consulting her. He also cried tears for me. American Captain Julie Inkster was stunned and shaken. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career.” Petersen later apologized for her “behaviour”.
There have been more incidents, but fortunately, good golf moments have prevailed in Solheim Cup history.
It’s not surprising that players show different behavior in this match than in weekly tournaments, says Marjolein Torenbeck, a sports psychologist at VSPN and an expert on team development in sports.
Unlike a regular golf tournament, where you play more against the field and against yourself, the Solheim Cup is almost the ultimate form of female-on-female combat and team competition.
Turenbeck: “A lot of research has been done on what happens to people when they compete against each other in teams. A feeling of ‘us-them’ arises. The feeling that we belong to each other and do not like others. This is a very human thing. Once we have the idea that we belong To something, to a group, we identify strongly with it. There is a sense of in-group and out-group existence. We tend to favor members of our own group, our own team.
Within a group, certain subjective biases can influence decision-making, including decisions about ethical behavior. “Research has shown that people are more willing to lie or cheat for the benefit of their group, even if they have nothing to gain from that lying.”
According to Turenbeck, this may have something to do with the fact that in play the focus is quicker on the result. “You’re getting feedback on what you’re doing more quickly, so to speak. I can imagine that makes you more likely to suffer from stress and that in turn causes more emotions. You’re not the only one directly focused on the outcome, you know that everyone around you is watching.” The fact that you don’t want to be inferior to someone else on your team can also play a role in this. Mutual competition, wanting to be the best of the two. What I also hear a lot in sports: Fear of disappointing others. Fear of what your teammate will feel. In the team will be disappointed in you if you make a mistake.This can also cause stress, although it is a very personal thing.
Turenbeck says stress should not be confused with stress, because that can also have a positive effect. “Of course you need a little bit of healthy tension to be able to perform. But if an athlete is really stressed, the muscles are often a bit tense and you can no longer move or act as smoothly as you would like.
In short, the tension is disastrous for the Solheim family. “Stress can also cause you to suffer from tunnel vision, both literally and figuratively. It then becomes more difficult to think and you can no longer supervise a given situation and make choices. Then sometimes people suddenly start doing completely different things.”
Research also shows that stress affects how people behave in groups. More stress can lead to more prosocial behavior toward members of their own group, while they can behave more hostile toward the other group. So stress may be the reason behind the tendency towards unsportsmanlike behavior in the Solheim Cup, although Turenbeck doesn’t dare say so for sure. “I don’t have the experience from my own practice, but judging from what has been researched and published on this topic, this connection is very possible.”
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