For Bettina Hauert, her journey in golf is one that few can claim by many aspire. In 2007 she represented her home country of Germany and the entire European continent as a member of the Solheim Cup Team. The biennial event is the women’s equivalent to the Ryder Cup, pitting the U.S. Team vs. the European Team in a series of team and individual match play competitions.
"Playing in the Solheim Cup changes everything...You don't play for money, you don't play for personal accolades. You just play for the honor... It's the true soul of the game, maybe. You know what I mean?"
Solheim comes complete with all the spectacular play, prideful celebrations and heartbreaking defeats that define team golf on the grandest stage. Hauert, now a member of the TaylorMade European Ladies Advisory Board, reflects upon her experience at the 2007 Solheim Cup in Halmstad, Sweden, and her career in the game.
How old were you when you first started playing?
So, I started playing golf when I was 2 years old. My parents actually took up the game in the same year that I was born. They just took me and in the trolley to the range and to the practice facilities when I was a very little baby. Obviously, I can't remember those times, but I don’t remember not playing golf. Never ever.
When did you realize you had the potential to do special things with the game?
I had some early success. I was a county champion for the girls under-18 division when I was 14. That was kind of big thing. And think I was our club champion at the age of 12 or 13. Then my first really big international victory came at the Girls European Team Championship in 1999. All of those steps gave me the confidence to know I could compete at the highest level.
Take us through some of your growth as a developing junior player.
At the little nine-hole golf club where I started in my hometown, I just remember always being there. Always playing. I had lessons very early because my parents figured out that one hour with the golf pro was cheaper than playing nine holes, lunch and paying the babysitter for the whole time. They were smart!
So, I would have this one-hour lesson with the golf pro and by the time it ended my parents were usually just finishing up the 5th hole. Then I carried on playing alongside my parents for the last few holes. When I was tired, I would just sit on the trolley and my dad would pull me all over the golf course.
Let’s fast forward to your professional career. You were just 25 when you made the Solheim Cup Team. What was that experience like?
Playing in the Solheim Cup changes everything. It changes your point of view on the game of golf because it gives a different value. As you don't play for money, you don't play for personal accolades. You just play for the honor.
Maybe that sounds a bit funny, but it kind of brings us back the experience I had as a kid. It's very hard to describe, and I don’t know how to put it into words. It's the true soul of the game, maybe. You know what I mean?
Yeah, I think we do. Take us through that week a little bit.
It was really hard losing the Solheim Cup. A take home for me was that I didn't have a chance to play in a four-ball match, and I really wish I could have. I believe I’m a good fit for four ball because I make loads of birdies and every now and then I kill myself with a double or triple. I think that style suits the format. Looking back, it would have been fun to play that format but of course no regrets. There’s nothing I would trade about the experience.
In my singles match with Nicole Castrale, I remember being really happy with my game. I hit great shots and converted with some good putts. But I just ended up losing to the better player on that day.
Losing while you are happy with your own game is a very diverse feeling. Because in one way, I was really proud of myself. I was happy and I have no regrets towards my own game or the decisions that I made on the course. But then again, I lost the point for our team. So yeah, that's was hard and still is to some degree. Losing the Solheim Cup, we were so sad. One of the things that makes it so hard is that it takes two more years until the continent can fight back and have a chance to win again.
What is the team experience like? How does it work to form camaraderie in the women’s game?
Being on the Solheim cup Team was one of the biggest experiences ever. It is so different than the usual tournaments you play out on Tour because of the team element. It gives you a different kind of pressure or a different kind of feeling. You're playing for a bigger goal other than money or just winning. It was truly a dream come true.
It's an indescribable experience. Indescribable feelings that go really, really deep. Then being on a team with players from the LPGA and European Tours – some you know really well and some you get to know during that week. It was awesome because I had the chance to play on the same team as Laura Davies, who kind of inspired me my whole life as a junior.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to play a round of golf with her because I would read about how far she hits the ball, how good of a player she is and just nice of a person she was overall. She lived up to all those things that I read. She’s truly an awesome personality. I have some much respect not only for her, but for everybody on both teams. Being on the team with Laura Davies, that was really a dream come true.
Jumping forward to today’s game, what’s your perspective on women’s equipment?
Because the women’s game doesn’t get the same number of eyeballs or the attention that the men’s game does, it is definitely harder to find support for getting equipment. Being a former Tour pro and always being around the game, I didn’t really struggle to get right equipment – but I recognize there being a gap. That’s one of the reasons I commend what TaylorMade has done in bringing together the European Ladies Advisory Board. It shows that the brand is listening to women golfers and wants to make sure it’s providing the best possible equipment offerings.
Before we let you go, tell us a little more about the Advisory Board.
For me, being on the Ladies Advisory Board is something that brings a lot of joy. We have the chance to sit down together – which we could do in person before the pandemic – and just talk golf, sharing our experiences. We discuss things that are challenging for us as women in the industry and we talk about things that we’ve found helpful. It’s really about identifying some areas that could be issues and coming up with solutions. And working together to do it while also trying to change some perspectives about the women’s game. It’s ultimately about helping the brand better connect to all golfers. Not to mention, the board has some awesome women that are tons of fun. We have a great time working together.