Nancy Lopez was introduced to the game of golf at the age of eight by her father Domingo. Impressed with his daughter’s budding talent, he dug a hole in the backyard of their New Mexico home and devised a makeshift sand trap that would allow her to practice. From this modest beginning, Nancy quickly began to take the golfing world by storm and today is heralded as one of the sport’s most enduring legends.
Her first major tournament win came at the age of 12 when she was crowned New Mexico Women’s Amateur Champion. She won numerous other amateur titles throughout junior high and high school and continued to dominate the amateur ranks as a collegiate player at the University of Tulsa. As a freshman, she earned All-American honors and was named Tulsa’s 1976 Female Athlete of the Year.
The decision to turn professional came at the end of Lopez’s sophomore year in college. In 1978, during her first full year on the LPGA tour, Lopez won nine tournaments, including a record-setting five in a row and the first of three LPGA championships. She was named LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and Vare Trophy winner, an achievement that is still unmatched in women’s golf.
By 1987, Lopez had won her 35th career victory qualifying her to become the youngest inductee into the LPGA Hall of Fame. She went on to win 13 more tournaments, culminating in a total of 48 career titles by the time she retired in 2002. At the same time Lopez was making her mark as a player, she was making her mark as a businesswoman, founding Nancy Lopez Course Design and the Nancy Lopez Golf Company.
Today, Nancy devotes her time to family and various philanthropic and educational activities, while continuing to play in selected golf tournaments. In particular, she and husband, Ray Knight, a former professional baseball player, travel as a couple around the country on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals sharing personal testimony of how to enjoy life after a heart attack. Their two oldest daughters attend Auburn University, while their youngest is a high school student in their hometown of Albany, Georgia.
Nancy Lopez now resides in Auburn where her youngest daughter is a junior at the university. She remains actively involved as a national ambassador for Adventures in Movement and continues to host an annual golf tournament in Florida to benefit the organization that helps children and adults with special needs, as well as Alzheimer’s patients. Additionally, Lopez is a strong supporter of the March of Dimes Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and The First Tee program.