Interview: Nancy Lopez PDF Print E-mail

Interview by Jason Bruno

Nancy Lopez at the Grand Opening of the new Max A Mandel Course in Laredo, Texas.



Over 40 years since winning her first USGA Title (the 1972 U.S Girls' Junior), Nancy Lopez is still

the straw that stirs the drink. When she walks into a room, you feel her energy and warmth . . .

she is the Arnold Palmer of Ladies Golf. At the recent Max A Mandel course opening in Laredo,

Texas, Lopez was the guest of honor, and everyone from politicians to small children fell hard

for the lady who once ruled Womens' Golf. I considered myself fortunate to have the opportunity

to interview the Hall Of Famer (who won 48 LPGA tournaments & 3 Major Championships) .



LinksNation: When you were growing up what were some of your thoughts when practicing?


Nancy Lopez: The thing about me when I was on the practice tee growing up, I learned what

my hands were doing when I hit a shot. I taught myself alot of that, my Dad was my teacher

but he wasn't an instructor. I learned to work the ball different ways . . . I was a big feel player,

so if I felt something and I saw it, I said wow that's what's making the ball do this for this reason.

I taught myself all of these different shots, and it was because I was on the driving range doing

that and having a good time doing it.


LN: The golf industry as a whole talks about bringing in more juniors, bringing in morewomen,

making the game more accessible. How much of that in your experience is fact and how

much is lip service?


NL: I think it's more out there than you think with the LPGA and the USGA, we do this golf camp

and I think what we have to do is teach our kids to practice first, we want them to go out on the

golf course and know how to play the game. During the last two years we've done schools at Kiawah

Island, only girls . . . and I like it being only girls because women don't feel comfortable on the golf

course, they are very intimidated by "Am I good Enough", "Should I be out here", "The guys are behind

us, we don't want to be slow". At this girls golf camp it's 3 days, the older players are from 8-17 and

they have a little tournament, because they know the game a little bit better. The LPGA teaching division

donates their time, how many people do that? Lady Links for Golf (which is a new magazine), and I work

with them sometimes, and we do outings all over the country and we bring alot of women to golf. We

teach them the game so they feel confident enough to go play golf with the guys or on a golf course

period. I think it's important, we don't need lip service - we need to do things that are important to

help the game. I think the First Tee program has been tremendous, but still the little girls there are

probably intimidated because there are young men there that play and are probably better than they

are, but the First Tee has taught alot of kids and I've heard alot of testimonies fromchildren and

young adults that have gone through the First Tee program and learned alot from it, which is really

good. The big thing in golf to me is, it's just too expensive . . . with the economy the way it's been -

this is a municipal golf course, it doesn't look like one to me . . . it's really nice. We've got to give

people the opportunity to play the game, instead of charging so much money. Why not have a full golf

course and have special days or special weekends or bring your kid out and pay half price or something

where we can fill up the golf course. There are so many golf courses closing because they can't afford to

keep their doors open. I live in another world, I play all of those prestigious golf courses, but I don't forget

where I came from and I feel really lucky that I can go and play all of the courses that I've been able to




LN: The USGA has two different contrasting themes goin on: The talk of "rolling back" the golf ball because

it goes too far, and the Tee It Forward initiative. What's your take?


NL: I don't know, I don't think the ball goes that much farther for me right now. . . I'm teeing it forward

right now! I'm on that commitee of talking about teeing it forward. The equipment has done alot, but I'm

at the age where I am, I'm not as flexible as I used to be, I used to hit it 275 easily, now I'm swinging

hard and hitting it 230. Even with the equipment, I used to play 6500 (yards) now I just move up to

wherever I want to hit it. Wherever I can hit an 8 or 7 iron on par 4's, I've got to where I was hitting 4

hybrids and I got tired of doing that. I want to hit a green the way I used to, I hit all the par 4's with

wedges because I hit it so long, and now I'm not and it's aggravating. I'm not up to the ladies tee yet,

but I move up. I play with my boyfriend and I'll say, Ed I'm gonna move up to here,so I move up to

where I feel that I can play the course comfortably . . . I don't even play where there's tees. It's fun to

play like that, he hits it longer than I do and I just want to be able to enjoy the game and have birdie

putts and have that good sensation of hitting a green in two and getting it close, instead of hitting

a 4 hybrid and having a 70ft putt. It's just important for people to enjoy the game, alot of people say "I

love to play but don't have time for it". I say, just play 3 holes or 4 holes, it's like a fix . . . just like

working out, you'll find time for working out, you just do. Golf is the same way, you find time to play golf.

If you only want to play 3 or 4 holes, or that's all you have time for . . . just go. If you can do it everyday

your golf game is gonna stay atleast consistent. Courses should just charge per hole, do something

different to get people a chance to just play the game.



LN: What was your favorite course on tour?


NL: One of my favorites was Wykagyl in New York, I played well there and it was a fun golf course . . .

a great golf course, tough. The par 3's were very long, even when I hit it long I was hitting 3 irons and

2 irons - back when we hit 2 irons. Now I started to play all of the courses that I had not previously

played . . . played Whistling Straits last year and that was really an awesome place. Pebble Beach was

always my favorite, and I haven't played there in a long time, I'm hoping to go back there eventually

and play some. When we played Whistling Straits it was in great shape and there was no wind that day,

which was really unusual. The day before, we played the Irish course, it was very windy. I'm gonna say

that's my favorite right now.


LN: What were your impressions of the 18th hole (at Whistling Straits) ?


NL: I played it really crappy (laughing in a self deprecating tone), I couldn't figure it out . . . I probably

need to play it a few times. I did play Bandon Dunes also, it's really a man's place, there weren't many

women there when I got there. It's the type of place where you better know how to play golf when

you play there, the wind blew alot.


LN: Did you play all of the courses at Bandon? Your favorite?


NL: I was exhausted, I wish I would have gone there for five or six days and just played a little bit and

then took a break. I like Old MacDonald, I truly felt like I was in Ireland . . . it was pretty cool. I'd like

to go back and spend a vacation there. Hopefully go back when there isn't as much wind, there was a

three club wind everyday, it was tough. As a matter of fact, on the fourth day, I walked and watched

my friends play . . . I couldn't swing anymore, but I wanted to see the course.


LN: Shifting gears, let's talk Solheim Cup, what's keeping the U.S squad from getting it done? (Lopez had

just returned from the Solheim Cup in Colorado prior to our interview)


NL: I don't know, it was very aggravating. I think they all played very hard, but the Europeans I think for

a long time really believed that we were better . . . they don't believe that anymore and our players need

to believe that we are the best and we shouldn't let them beat us no matter what. We have to bring our

best game out, and unfortunately I think the players just misread the greens. I saw alot of good strokes

goin on, I didn't see pressure strokes. I saw good fluid putting strokes, just misreading everything. The

Europeans were just bangin it into the cup, they weren't playing any break . . . and that's how I used to

putt. I was really disappointed for Meg (Mallon) most of all, she is such a greatcaptain and they loved

her but I just don't think our players were quite prepared, I don't know why, I just have that feeling.

There were a couple of players that played really well, Lizette Salas was one that played very well.

Gerina Piller played very well, I thought Michelle Wie played very well . . .  they criticized her for running

off the green after she made that putt, but she hasn't made too many putts and I know she was just

excited about that. Michelle Wie is a young person and I don't think she would ever do something like

that intentionally, she was definitely caught up in the moment.


LN: I know you are a bit of a mentor for Lizette Salas, your thoughts . . .

NL: I try to give her any encouragement that I can, I met her and her father last year, they are just

wonderful people. Lizette is a smart young person, she loves golf, she is very competitive . . . she

has alot of what the tour needs - she is good with people. She is a little impatient, she wants to win

yesterday, but I keep telling her don't do that . . . just keep playing, keep finishing in the top ten, get

used to that and get comfortable in those positions, because she'll win.


LN: Did you see that performance coming in her singles match against Suzann Pettersen?


NL: When I heard she was playing Suzann I thought, Uggh. I didn't really get to talk to her that morning

before she played. Suzann is such a great player and she loves Solheim. I went and watched them on

the backside and Lizette wasn't intimidated at all by her, which alot of the players can be. I think she

did a great job, but I wanted her to win the point though to beat Suzann, but she did a great job.


LN: Are you playing competitively now?


NL: Yes, I'm playing on the Legends Tour, I have quite a few tournaments now coming up, I didn't play

in as many in the beginning because I had other things going on. It's alot of fun and very competitive

. . . I'm not really playing well, I'd like to be playing better. I'm hitting the ball real well but I'm not scoring,

my putting has been really off. I went and saw Dave Stockton a few weekends ago and he got me back

on track. When you don't play alot you get out of your own habits, he got me back to where I was like

"Wow I didn't realize I wasn't doing that". Forward press and keeping my hands forward, so I'm hoping the

next tournament I play better, I'm hitting it well, just not getting it in the hole. I lost a little confidence

with it, once you start missing putts you lose confidence. He really got me feeling better about what I'm

doing on the putting green.

LN: What's in store for you?

NL: I live in Alabama now, my third daughter Torri is at Auburn, she wanted me to stay close to her right

now, I also have a home at the Villages in Florida, but I'm not there much, I'm traveling a lot right now.


Later that afternoon Jason Veretto from the Back9 Network, Steve Pike, Mike Bailey from World Golf and I

played a little golf with Nancy Lopez . . . a rare opportunity that I won't soon forget.



*Thanks to Pat Norton and Jane Dally from OnCourse Strategies for making this interview possible.





United States Retains Presidents Cup PDF Print E-mail


Jack Nicklaus poses with the victorious United States Presidents Cup Team




Dublin, Ohio - The United States continued it's winning ways at The Presidents Cup, this edition

(the 10th) took place at the Golden Bear's signature layout - Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Fred Couples remained unbeaten in his 3rd stint as captain, with Tiger Woods clinching the

winning putt in each of those three victories . . . this time a 1 up win over Richard Sterne.


The 18.5 -15.5 total doesn't quite tell the story. The Americans dominated virtually every session

except for Sunday's singles, where the Internationals pushed hardest - winning 7 of the 12 matches

and a half point in the Webb Simpson vs Louis Oosthuizen match. The real story of the week other

than the play of the U.S Team, was the weather. Rain throughout the week caused delays, and

turned the course into a virtual dart throwing contest. Golf balls plugged everywhere, which was

not the conditions tournament host Jack Nicklaus was hoping for. At one point during the closing

press conference Nick Price acknowledged Jack Nicklaus for his hospitality and then sympathized

with him and the Muirfield Village staff regarding the frequent rains in Columbus.


The Americans only needed four points in the afternoon singles to retain the Cup after a strong

finish Sunday morning in the foursomes, but those four points didn't come easy, and captain Couples

acknowledged that: "At no time was I a nervous wreck, but it was nice when Tiger two putted that

last green to get the 18th point"


The four Americans that won points in the singles Sunday were: Hunter Mahan 3&2 over Hideki

Matsuyama, Jason Dufner 4&3 over Brendon de Jonge, Zach Johnson 4&2 over Branden Grace, and

Tiger Woods 1 up over Richard Sterne.



Final Presient Cup Scoring:



The 2015 Presidents Cup will be played at South Korea.










USA Wins Walker Cup At National Golf Links Of America PDF Print E-mail


Team USA celebrates their victory at National Golf Links of America



Southampton, N.Y - Team USA put together a dominating performance at the

original venue of the first Walker Cup, winning 17-9 over the team from Great

Britain & Ireland. National Golf Links of America hosted the first match between

amateurs in 1922.

Although the teams are greatly comprised of college golfers, ironically it was the

two Mid Amateurs from Team USA that clinched the Cup, 45 year old Tom White

(won point 13) and 4 time U.S Mid Am Champion Nathan Smith, who beat Nathan

Kimsey of England 4&3 to gain the 14th point to win back the Cup. Smith was on

the 2011 squad with Captain Jim Holtgrieve that lost at Royal Aberdeen.


“This ranks at the top of the list,” said Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid Amateur

champion who was making his third Walker Cup appearance. “I never wanted

a point so much in my life. This [Match] means the most. I’m happy for Jim.

Nobody loves the game of golf and put more hard work into a team than him.”

“It’s something I have been wanting for a long, long time, particularly after we

lost in 2011,” said USA Captain Jim Holtgrieve. “I was hoping I would get a mulligan

for ‘13 and when I knew it was going to be at National Golf Links, which is where it

all started, I wanted so bad to come here. Yes. I wanted to win but I wanted to do

something good for golf and this, to me, was truly good for golf.”

C.B Macdonald designed National Golf Links of America, which opened in 1911. Known

as the "Father of American Golf Architecture", Macdonald built Chicago Golf Club (the

first 18 hole course in the U.S) and was the winner of the first U.S Amateur

Championship in 1895. Charles Blair Macdonald attended school in St.Andrews,

Scotland in the 1870's.

The 2015 Walker Cup will be played at Royal Lytham & St.Annes.


Walker Cup:








Merion Smells Like A Rose PDF Print E-mail
Written by BRUNO   


Photo by Jason Bruno

Justin Rose poses with the wicker



The 113th edition of the United States Open Championship had a bit of everything.

Rough weather, beautiful weather, favorites/under dogs, and a historically classic

venue that wasn't supposed to stand up to the challenge of today's finest.

Merion Golf Club is an amazing variety of short and long, easy and hard, and like

Augusta each year, this old girl was really the star this past week . . . and she stayed

strong and gave "no quarter".

In the end, Merion East held her own, yielding a winning score of +1 . In a duel that

will go down as classic, Justin Rose and fan favorite Phil Mickelson came down the stretch

separated by one stroke. Fast forward to the 72nd hole, Rose had just piped his drive on

18 and faced a 1950 Hogan esque shot to the back left wicker placement. Meanwhile, on 16

Mickelson was standing over an 8 foot birdie putt to tie Rose. At this moment it was obvious

to me standing atop the 17th tee box watching both moments simutaneously - that this was

the moment that would define the championship. The odds were probably greater that Lefty's

putt would drop, but the exact opposite occurred. Rose smoked his 4 iron onto the green, but

it trickled through onto the first cut of rough, some 20 feet away. Phil's bid for birdie just slid

by, and seconds later Rose nudged his ball out of the first cut (with a 3 wood) to within inches.


In the house at +1, Rose would not be caught, and he sensed it, pointing to the sky after

tapping in. Lefty certainly tried, but these are not the two holes to make up ground on, his

valiant effort on the final two holes came up short, and it was official - Justin Rose had just won

the U.S Open on Father's Day on Merion's East Course.


For Rose who lost his Father in 2002 to Leukemia, this was his first major victory (and the first

Englishman to win the U.S Open since Tony Jacklin won in 1970). For Phil, another heartbreak at

the Open, extending his record to six runner up finishes.

Rose reflected afterwards: "This is a journey, such a satisfying feeling. It goes back 20, 30

years for me dreaming, of hoping, or practicing, calloused hands . . . You've had to do it the

hard way. You've had to do it yourself.

The 4 iron approach to the 18th Sunday (not far from the Hogan plaque) would certainly have

gotten a tip of the cap from "The Hawk". Let's hope we see the USGA bring the Open back to

the Wickerbaskets in the future.

Final Scores:


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