Stacy Lewis will captain the 2023 USA Solheim Cup team at Finca Cortasín, Andelusía, Spain, September 18 – 24, 2023. Upon her announcement as captain, Lewis sat down for a Q&A with LPGA.com
LPGA.com: When were you asked to be captain?
Stacy Lewis: It actually came up in December. Vicki (Goetze-Ackerman, LPGA Player President) called and asked if I was interested. I think they were just doing their due diligence at the time because my name was on the shortlist. I didn’t hear anything for a while. Then, the week before (the start of the season) Vicki called again and asked if I was still interested. Of course, I said yes. On that Friday, Mollie (Marcoux Samaan, LPGA commissioner) called and asked me officially.
Q: Was there any hesitation?
A: I called my husband first. With Chesnee, I knew I needed help. And I called my parents, too, and asked if they were onboard. They all said, a hundred percent, yes. Gerrod said, ‘Let’s do it.’ You obviously don’t want to turn it down, ever. But I also had to make sure everybody was on board, which they were.
Q: You were an assistant in the last two Solheim Cups. You didn’t want to be in Scotland (where Lewis withdrew due to injury and was replaced before the matches began by Ally Ewing). And you were there from the beginning at Inverness Club. What did you learn from both of those experiences?
A: Oh, so much. I look back, even in Germany where Juli (Inkster) brought me in on pairings and asked me a lot, even back then. Looking back, she was getting me ready – getting after me about communicating better and answering my phone. Now, it’s a role reversal. I’m sure I’m going to have the same issues with some of these players.
In Scotland, I got to see what goes on while play is happening – what’s being said over the radios and how you can use your assistants and helpers to enable the captain to be in certain spots.
This last time, I was much more involved in the logistics – setting bus schedules and getting everybody where they needed to be, that sort of thing. And, again, doing those things allowed Pat to be where she needed to be on the golf course. The big things are setting the pairings, but there are all the other things like making sure dinners are on time. You have to take care of those things, so the players don’t have to think about them.
Q: The players don’t have to think about those things only when the captain has worked diligently to take care of them. Are you prepared for everything that is involved?
A: I hope so. The only thing I won’t know is how the next 18 months are going to go. I’m obviously going to rely on the team at the LPGA. They’re getting a schedule ready. But I’m an organized person and have been my entire life. So, we’re going to be organized. That’s the message I want to share with the players. I want them to know who they are going to play with and when they’re going to play. Sure, there will always be changes. But I want them to know that this is their team, not my team.
My message is: take ownership. Tell me who you want to play with and who you don’t want to play with. I want to help you be successful.
I got a notebook and I started writing things down immediately. It’s with me right now and goes everywhere with me. If I think of something or someone tells me something, I’m writing it down.
Q: Everyone puts their own imprint on the captaincy. What will a Stacy Lewis team be?
A: I don’t know yet. I want (the players) to be passionate and to see my passion for the Solheim Cup. I want my assistants to have the same passion that I have. I want the girls to know the history of the Solheim Cup and who came before them. I want them to know how important those people are to what they are doing. But I also want it to be fun. You see people stressed out and somebody will be crying. Events like this are a reward for great play. It shouldn’t be so stressful. I want them to enjoy it.
Q: The environment, especially if you’ve never been there, is pretty stressful. How do you prepare players for an experience unlike anything else in women’s golf?
A: Yes, that’s tough. And COVID-19 did not help us in Toledo. A lot of our young players hadn’t played in front of crowds, ever, even on the LPGA Tour. So, seeing crowds like what we had there was more of a shock to the system.
I think you have to be honest with the players. In Spain, we’re going to go to sleep every night hearing Ole’s in our head. You don’t want to scare (players) but you also have to let them know, we’ve been there. I’ve been so scared I couldn’t get the ball on a tee. All of us who have been there have that history. We have to share it and help others embrace it.
Q: What is your history with Suzann Pettersen?
A: I don’t think we’ve ever played each other in Solheim. We never really went head-to-head in regular play either with a tournament on the line. But I can’t wait to go up against Suzann. You’ve got two fiery people. It’ll be a lot of fun. That’s one of the things I’m most excited about.
Q: Have you ever been to Spain?
A: No, never been to Spain.
Q: What do you know about the golf course?
A: I looked at it online. The resort looks beautiful. I can’t wait to get over there and do a site visit. I know they’re going to be ready for us. Hopefully, it shows off a lot of good golf. These girls deserve that.
Q: Scotland and Gleneagles took it to a level that no one could have imagined. Do you anticipate something similar in Spain?
A: As for the competition itself, I think it’s going to be close now every time. I don’t think you will see any more four- and five-point wins either way. And that’s great. It’s what gets people there to watch. It’s what brings out the emotion and excitement. We keep trying to elevate the Solheim Cup. But as long as you continue to have great players on both sides, I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about that.
Q: When do you expect to start talking to players?
A: Now. I want to get their feedback and learn what they like and don’t like. As a player, the hardest thing is, you show up and you’re given a schedule. I want to talk to everybody and hopefully add some more flexibility so players can prepare the way they need to prepare.
I want to talk to fans, past captains and players and get a lot of opinions to help formulate my own and go forward from there.
It’s going to be a lot. But it’s going to be fun.