Nancy Lopez is one of golf’s greats. Her achievements include 48 LPGA tournament wins and three major championships. Though retired from professional play, she remains committed to the sport, where she is actively involved with modernizing the LPGA, and encouraging women to embrace a game that has often been seen as a boys’ club. We interviewed her just before she took to the course as part of the third annual Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial Golf Tournament. The tournament helps young players on the verge of making the professional cut by pairing them with experienced players, like Nancy. She spoke to us about her continued passion for the sport.
Tell us a bit about what’s new with you.
I’m still very involved with the LPGA. On the business side, I started a new company called Nancy Lopez Golf Adventures, where we plan golf getaways and teach golf.
Q: What do you want people to get out of learning to play golf?
My dad always told me, “Play happy”. That is the mantra of our schools. It’s all about bringing women to the game, and helping them feel comfortable. Often, I think women feel intimidated. They walk onto the golf course and don’t feel as welcome as they should. We want to prepare them, so when they get out there, they can enjoy themselves and not feel anything but positive feelings.
Q: Why is it important to bring women into the sport?
We’re the caregivers for our families, and often don’t make time for ourselves. It’s important to recharge. The golf course is a place where you can go to recharge and be a better person, a better employee, a better female president, a better wife… You don’t have to play 18 holes; just go out there and enjoy yourself. It’s a great place to go to let things go, enjoy the sunshine, the smell of the green grass, and to turn your cell phone off and put it away.
Q: Why is the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial a special tournament for you?
Patty Berg and Chico’s are two great names. Patty Berg was a woman whom everybody in golf respected. She was a pioneer, a great ambassador for the LPGA tour, and most of all, a lovely person. She would have been very proud to have her name on an event where we bring women together. The young women that compete at the Patty Berg Memorial are trying to get themselves ready for the LPGA tour. This tournament is for them to have a place to compete, make a little money, and learn. Not only that, the tour brings people out, especially in Florida. The fans know Patty, they know Pat Bradley, they know Laura Davies, they know me. They end up meeting this new generation of great, talented, young women and say, “I’m going to follow her.” That’s how you start to build a fan base. Fans are so important, because they encourage you and are there for you during your ups and downs.
Q: You’re a new grandmother. How has that changed your life?
Being a grandparent is fabulous. Molly’s three and Hunter is about two months old now. I love my three daughters with all my heart. My dad always said, “If you want to be a good person, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, it’s what your heart’s all about, and work ethic, and what you do in life.” I feel like my daughters have done that. I’m very proud of them, and now, Ashley, my oldest, is giving me grandchildren, which is awesome. You never think about your children having children. You always look at your children as children, and now that we have Molly and Hunter, I see what a great mom Ashley is. It brings tears to my eyes, because I’m like, “You’re such a great mom,” and she’s like, “Well, I had a good teacher.” It means so much to me, that my daughter would say that to me.
Q: Molly is so little, does she play yet?
I’ve taken her to the putting green, and she was so cute. I try to get her to putt from about a foot away, so she gets the sensation of knocking the ball in the hole.
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