Nancy Lopez was inducted into the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame last night at a banquet at Southern Hills in Tulsa. In full disclosure, I serve on the board of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame and as a member of the Selection Committee I was a full-throated supporter of Nancy’s inclusion.
Though she has lived in (Tulsa) Oklahoma just two years of her life, the fame and recognition Nancy brought to the city, the University of Tulsa – where she dominated women’s college golf in 1976 and 1977 – and the state of Oklahoma, made the vote essentially a formality.
After putting the TU program and its legendary coach Dale McNamara on the national map, Nancy exploded onto the LPGA Tour. Her rookie season was cut short by the death of her mother, Marina Lopez. But in her official rookie season of 1978 and 1979, she won 17 times, including five straight in her first season. She totaled 28 wins in her two years of college and first full two years on tour.
The likable and classy lady went on to win 48 times on the LPGA Tour, including the LPGA Championship three times, and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 1987. Get this: Nancy Lopez won 32 of her 48 events by 1985 when she was just 27. She retired at 45 in 2002.
I vividly remember two things about the women’s game in that era. Jan Stephenson and her bubble bath TV commercial with her in a bathtub full of golf balls. And the dominance of Nancy Lopez; cute in her own right, and dominant on the links.
Joining Lopez last night as new inductees of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame were “Tempestuous” Tommy Bolt; Bartlesville’s gentleman and a scholar, Jerry Cozby; the Godfather of OSU Golf, Labron Harris, Sr; and men who helped ensure that Southern Hills was and is one of the most splendid courses and country clubs in America.
Also, David Trimble of OKC Bishop McGuinness and Hadley Walters of Edmond Memorial were announced as the recipients of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Scholarships. And former Oklahoma State star Jordan Niebrugge received the inaugural Everett Dobson Award, honoring a senior graduating from a four-year Oklahoma university who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, leadership, citizenship and playing ability by the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame. Everett is the founder of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, and one of the finest gentlemen you’d ever want to meet – not to mention a pretty salty competitor on the links.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Nancy. Please note the cameraman was the erstwhile John Holcomb, a fine mid-handicapper himself and quite the salty competitor of mine on Play the Percentages. Seriously, John’s the Sports Director of KOTV, Tulsa, and he and I emceed last night’s event.