Here’s music to the ears of fans of the Tee It Forward initiative: Nancy Lopez has your back. The Hall of Famer has been a proponent of the program almost since its inception. But perhaps even more important, Lopez is leading by example. That is, one of the greatest players – female or male – in the history of golf isn’t shy about teeing it forward.
“Equipment has done a lot, but I’m my age (56) I’m not as flexible as I used to be,” Lopez told me this week at The Max A. Mandel Golf Course in Laredo, Texas. “I used to be able to hit it 275 yards easily; now I’m swinging hard and hitting it 230 yards – even with the equipment.”
Lopez, who won three majors and a total of 48 events in her 27-year career on the LPGA Tour, said she routinely played 6,500-yard courses. These days, however, she plays distances that remind her of the days when she routinely hit driver and a short iron into par fours.
“I just move up to wherever I want to play it – wherever I can hit a 7-or 8-iron into a par four,” Lopez said. “I got where I was hitting 4 hybrid and I didn’t want to do that. I used to hit all par fours with wedges – now I’m not and it’s aggravating. I want to put myself back in the frame of mind when I was hitting 8- and 9-irons into par fours.
“I don’t even play where there are tees sometimes. It’s fun to play like that. I just want to be able to enjoy the game and have birdie putts and have sensation of hitting greens and getting it close instead of hitting a 4 hybrid and having a 70-foot putt.”