Nancy Lopez Exhibit Opens in the World Golf Hall of Fame (Jan. 10, 2011)

Remember 1978 when Jimmy Carter was president, Annie Hall won Best Picture and Pete Rose had a base hit for the 3,000th time?

Or, like me, do you remember the debut of a feisty young golfer on the LPGA Tour named Nancy Lopez?

World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez poses in front of her mural leading her 'Personality, Pride, Passion" exhibit. Photo Credit: St. Augustine Record

World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez poses in front of her mural leading her ‘Personality, Pride, Passion” exhibit. Photo Credit: St. Augustine Record

Her splash was immense, though her waves continue to roll throughout the golfing industry.

Of course with nine wins that first year she won “Rookie of the Year,” but did you know she also won the Money Title, Vare Trophy (for lowest scoring average) and Player of the Year honors?

No one other than Nancy Lopez has ever done that.

At age 22, she was and is the fastest to ever win 10 times.

At age 23, she was and is the fastest to ever to win 20 times.

No one has ever beaten her five consecutive LPGA victories that rookie season. Annika Sorenstam is the only one to match that feat in 2005.

With 48 career titles including three majors, four “Player of the Year” awards and three Vare trophies it is no wonder Lopez was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987.

Fellow Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin quipped at the time, “They’ve got the wrong person playing Wonder Woman (on the popular late 70s CBS television series).”

The only thing that “Wonder Nancy” could not do was win a U.S. Women’s Open. She finished second four times—twice before that amazing rookie year.

Who could forget the last time in 1997 when she became the first golfer to score in the 60s for all four rounds, yet she still lost to Alison Nicholas on the final hole at Oregon’s Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

“Even my dad said, ‘Maybe you’re not supposed to win the U.S. Open,’ Lopez said that day in 1997. “’And I told him, ‘No, dad, I’m going to win this someday.’”

Lopez turned 54 earlier this month. While she might not have won a U.S. Open she could have wrote the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s song “I did it my way.”

She reduced her playing schedule and kept winning tournaments over the span of eight years when she delivered three daughters into the world.

In fact, she won three times during the years her daughters were born and her last win in 1997 was six years after the birth of her youngest child.

No wonder the powers that be in the golf world decided to feature Lopez in a special exhibit at the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Lopez is the first woman to be so honored at the Hall of Fame joining the male legends Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Bob Hope.

Lopez’s “Pride, Passion and Personality” exhibit joins the popular Hope “Shanks for the Memories” exhibit which is in its second year of display at the St. Augustine museum.

When inducted into the Hall, Lopez joined 13 female golfing greats the likes of Patty Berg, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Louis Suggs. Since 1987, another 17 lady superstars the likes of Juli Inkster, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak have followed her and achieved the highest honor in the game of golf.

In addition to the ladies who played the game there are two other females within the 130 person population of the Hall. Judy Bell, a keen amateur player, was elected the first woman president of the USGA in 1996. Dinah Shore, the First Lady of Golf, elevated the LPGA to celebrity status with the golf tournament bearing her name starting in 1972.

In total, the 33 female honorees account for roughly 25 percent of the Hall’s membership.

One of Lopez’s passions contained within the new exhibit is her longstanding support of the AIM for the Handicap. AIM stands for Adventures in Movement. Nancy is the Chairman of the National Ambassadors and has hosted a charity golf tournament since 1981.

“I have seen some miracles,” is Lopez’s profession of her support for AIM.

Lopez could have been the role model for the character Mattie Ross, portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld, in the recently released American Western film “True Grit.”

Determined, results oriented and simple plain performance on the golf course and in life…

Her self-taught, homemade golf swing resulted from her father’s straightforward influence.

“When I was 7, my father put a club in my hand and said, ‘Put the ball in the hole.'”

Her upbringing continued to support her success on the LPGA Tour and throughout her life.

In the midst of her sensational rookie five-win streak Lopez knew Lopez: “I’ve always wanted to play well without it going to my head. I have seen other athletes get good and change. Because of my mother and father I do not want to change. They never put themselves above anyone else.”

So we too know Nancy Lopez, compliments of a great Hall of Fame exhibit that formally opens Saturday, Jan. 15th with an appearance by Lopez herself.

We have a miracle available to ourselves—one named “Nancy Lopez.”

Nancy did it her way, the right way and deserves heartfelt congratulations once again.

She is a comet that continues to burn brightly illuminating the lives of others.


Please note that many of the facts and quotes used in this article come from the new Nancy Lopez “Pride, Passion and Personality” exhibit at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Thanks to Mark Cubbedge and Andy Hunold for a wonderful exhibit. Remember the Bob Hope exhibit is ongoing for 2011. I hear Arnold Palmer now saying “If you love golf and Nancy Lopez, now you really got to go to the Hall of Fame.”    

 Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer who spends his time on all four major American golf tours—the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.

Reistetter resides in Pont Vedra Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida and pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.

For more background information on Andy go to the website Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary or e-mail him to