By Ken MacLeod
Nancy Lopez vowed to keep in closer contact with her former University of Tulsa roots after an emotional weekend that included her induction into the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Sunday night at Southern Hills Country Club.
Lopez certainly enjoyed her trip back to Tulsa, where she won the AIAW National Championship in 1975 and finished second in 1976. She played rounds at The Patriot, where she is a national member, and at Southern Hills. She gave a pep talk and then did an extensive question and answer session at The First Tee of Tulsa on Saturday morning. She attended the TU home football game Saturday afternoon, where she took part in the coin toss and sounded the Hurricane Warning siren in the second half.
Lopez praised her former coach Dale McNamara, who was seated at Lopez table along with current TU coach during her induction speech Sunday evening, saying she provided just the right amount of discipline and motherly love to help ease the transition from being away from her home in Roswell, N.M., and her parents for the first time.
Also going into the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Sunday were Jerry Cozby, the late Labron Harris Sr., the late Tommy Bolt and W.K. Warren Jr. and the late W.K. Warren Sr. Speaking for Bolt was long-time friend Dick Bily, while accepting for Harris was his former player Doug Tewell of Edmond.
Nick Sidorakis, chairman of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame board, awarded the Everett Dobson Award to former Oklahoma State golfer Jordan Niebrugge. Also recognized were scholarship winners David Trimble and Hadley Walters.
A fund-raising golf tournament associated with the event was held Monday morning at Southern Hills. Funds raised by the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame pay for the induction dinner as well as scholarships and awards for Oklahoma high school and collegiate golfers.
The dinner was co-hosted by Dean Blevins of News Nine in Oklahoma City and John Holcomb of the News on Six in Tulsa. Each inductee or their representative watched a video highlight of their career narrated by Jim Nantz of CBS Sports and produced by Geronimo TV of Tulsa. Those videos will be available for viewing on the Hall of Fame site at www.oklahomagolfhof.org later today.
Despite having concluded her career decades before the First Tee students were born, Lopez had their rapt attention during her Saturday morning chat. She told them stories of the relationship between her and her father Domingo and how crucial his support was to her success. She shared the importance of never giving up, being able to overcome adversity and winning or losing with grace.
During the Q&A session, there were many insightful questions, but also much curiosity about Lopez’ travels and where she has played. “Have you ever played golf in Egypt?” “Have you been to Arkansas?” “Have you played golf in Iowa?” Those were just a few of her geographical queries.
W.K. Warren Jr. said he was touched by he and his father’s inclusion in the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, as did Cozby, the 41-year head professional at Hillcrest Country Club in Bartlesville. For more on all the HOF inductees, please visit www.oklahomagolfhof.org.
Details of the 2017 event will be announced this fall.