At this weekend’s Solheim Cup, Becky Newell and her team won’t be holding one of those stiff paddles with their arms raised in the air, demanding absolute silence from the golf crowd.
“It’s all about red, white and blue,” said Newell, tournament director and 1983 graduate of Bowling Green State University. “We don’t have ‘Quiet Please’ paddles here. It gets noisy; it’s a party atmosphere and energy can surge around every hole. There are four matches in the morning and four matches in the afternoon, on Saturday and Sunday, followed by singles matches on Monday.
The Solheim Cup, the biggest international event in professional women’s golf, takes place this weekend at the Inverness Club in Toledo.
Newell ’83 is the tournament director for the Solheim Cup, which is expected to attract more than 150,000 fans in Northwest Ohio.
Newell, who grew up in Maumee, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education from BGSU and has served on the College of Education and Human Development Leadership Council since 2019.
Setting up the Solheim Cup tournament requires around four years of preparation. Newell started coming to Toledo in 2017, then moved to the neighboring township of Monclova in January 2019.
The entire tournament will be televised on the Golf Channel and NBC will have two-day coverage.
Newell has worked for the LPGA for 11 years. She started with the 2013 Solheim Cup in Colorado, then went to work at the LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida. Then, when the position of director of the Solheim Cup opened in 2017, she jumped at the chance – not just for the chance to return to Ohio, although that has its perks.
“That’s just how it turned out,” Newell said. “I would have gone anywhere for that, but it was a little more special to be back here.”
This is not his first connection with the historic Inverness Club or with other professional golf events in the area. She was a volunteer for the 1979 US Open in Inverness, and she volunteered for many years at the Jamie Farr Classic in Sylvania.
When Newell attended BGSU there was no sports management program yet, so she majored in education, majoring in K-8. She taught in Ottawa Hills and Maumee Valley Country Day until 1992, when her husband transferred to Georgia.
Because she had built relationships with people in the golf industry while volunteering at Farr, she became interested in professional golf.
“The LPGA had an office in Marietta, Georgia when I connected with them – and that sort of thing started my association with the LPGA,” Newell said. “I worked for a nonprofit, Metro Soft Golf Charities, and we hosted a tournament, Chick-fil-A Charity Championship, which we hosted for almost twelve years in Atlanta.”
Then she was race director for a year for a 10k classic that featured Olympic elements for those who qualified. Then, she made a stint in China while leading an Asian men’s tour in Beijing ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008. After returning to the United States, she accepted a position as tournament director for IMG in Atlanta. .
She competed in the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, then served as a Tournament Director for a PGA event in Florida and another golf event in Texas.
“In the end, I ended up with the LPGA in 2011 (and) I’ve been with them since and with roles in the Solheim Cup twice,” said Newell, who was also on the commercial side of the LPGA.
The love of events and golf
Newell always had an interest in the sport but didn’t start playing golf until later in his life.
“I ran on track in high school and at Bowling Green – I’ve always loved the sport,” she said. “My dad always tried to make me play tennis or golf, but I didn’t start playing golf until after I met my husband. Let’s be clear: I’m not a professional, but I love to organize events and I love the game. I think it’s just something that everyone should learn to play. I wish I had known that when I was 20.
“Golf is a great business tool that you can use. There is a lot more that can be done on a golf course, where you can really get to know people and their personalities.
BGSU prepared her for a career full of change
Newell worked with Ray Schneider, the Acting Director of the BGSU Sports Management Program.
“I talk to student kids about their career path and make introductions to them to look for jobs,” she said. “In fact, we have two interns from Bowling Green here right now working at the Solheim Cup. “
Newell said she is still friends with all of her BGSU roommates.
“I met a lot of people back then,” she said. “The track team was training in the rink before doing all of the remodeling.”
A few of those players were hockey greats George McFee and Brian MacLellan – “We were all the same age and a lot of us stayed in touch with the world of sport. “
Newell still remembers the phone number for the old Myles Pizza Pub and remembers all the relationships she made as a student.
“I think the most important thing I have as a Bowling Green graduate – and, of course, I didn’t know that right out of college – is to embrace your connection to college. The people I met would never have guessed when I left here in 92 that I would be back here. Keeping in touch with the people here has helped me over the past three years to make connections in the region. I have always been a great networker. I like to communicate and do not communicate by e-mail.
“I really enjoy making a Zoom call or meeting people in person. That’s what I’m trying to instill in a lot of our kids coming out of college – the importance of making that personal connection, and an email connection just isn’t going to cut it.
“People are pretty important to me and always have been, whether it’s golf or just my personal life, friends and family. You never know when you might need that friend you met on a plane or on the golf course.