In this episode, World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez is “Ridin’ with Rymer” at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. and chatting it up on a wide range of topics, including how positivity in her mental approach to the game has helped her over the years.
Later, Charlie’s taking an extended playing tour of one of Mike Strantz’s South Strand gems, True Blue Golf Club, and offering several playing tips along the way that will not only help you navigate this popular design but improve your scores as well!
Speaker 1 (00:03):
The Charlie Rymer Golf Show starring Charlie Rymer. Hey okay, let’s pick up the tempo.
Charlie Rymer here, and welcome to my new show where we do things my way. As a former golf pro and media personality, I know golf but this isn’t going to be your grandfather’s golf show. I’m bringing you conversations with celebs and golf greats, getting off the course and out on the water, and even getting into some good eats. This is the Charlie Rymer Golf Show. Keep it in the fairway, folks. Today I’m on the south end of Myrtle Beach at the Jack Nicklaus designed, Pawleys Plantation, and I’m hanging out with my good buddy, world Golf Hall of Fame member, Nancy Lopez. I’m Charlie Rymer, and this is Riding with Rymer.
Ha ha ha ha, Nancy Lopez.
Nancy Lopez (01:03):
Welcome to Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Plantation.
Nancy Lopez (01:09):
It’s great to see you.
Nancy Lopez (01:09):
We have got a wonderful golf course today designed by Jack Nicklaus. I’ve got you loaded up. Hop in the cart, I can’t wait to get you out there.
Nancy Lopez (01:16):
I can’t wait to get out there either.
You need any help getting up there? It’s a big boy cart.
Nancy Lopez (01:21):
No, I’m a big girl.
Whatever you do, don’t honk the horn today. So Nancy, what was more challenging, winning 48 LPGA events, playing your way into the World Golf Hall of Fame, or raising three daughters?
Nancy Lopez (01:44):
Well, raising three daughters was fun, but I had to travel with them too. Which after you win your first one, you’re like, “Okay, I can do this.” Never did I think I would get in the Hall of Fame, and especially the LPGA Hall of Fame. Cause you really had to earn it and the criteria was really, really difficult.
Yeah, that’s straight up points to get in the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Nancy Lopez (02:03):
Well, now it’s points. Back then it was, I had to win two different majors with 30 wins. I kept winning the same major, the LPGA Championship.
There’s worse problems to have. In 1978, obviously you were Rookie of The Year when you were winning those nine events and five straight at one point. You know, were the queen of golf on the cover of all the magazines and well, what do you remember most from 1978?
Nancy Lopez (02:31):
How much fun I was having, being 19 and then turning 20 in January of ’78. So just that rookie year and being young and having fun and traveling to Japan and going to Europe, which I never thought I would. Here’s this little Mexican girl that lives in Roswell, New Mexico, and we didn’t have a lot. My dad worked really hard in his auto body repair shop, and never did I ever think I was going to go to Japan or even Europe. Unfortunately my mom passed away before I won any LPGA tournaments. She died in ’77 after I got my card, in July of ’77, and my dad started traveling with me. So it was fun having him with me because it was my way of saying thank you to him wherever I could take him. He was this little Hispanic man, wonderful guy, really strong Spanish accent and just my best friend.
And he was your teacher too? Yeah.
Nancy Lopez (03:31):
My only teacher.
And I got the sense that he never really played much golf, yet he taught a Hall of Famer.
Nancy Lopez (03:37):
Well, he learned golf from the gentleman that he worked for, and it was amazing that my dad had the mental ability to tell me how to play golf. He played, he was good, three handicap on a municipal golf course. But he just had the mental part of golf that was so strong and that’s what he taught me. And being positive, play happy. My play happy?
I know I’ve seen it, the big tees that you have.
Nancy Lopez (04:09):
Well, and he said, he told me-
Say “Play Happy” on them.
Nancy Lopez (04:12):
Yeah, he said I played better when I played happy. Yeah. So it was one of his philosophies.
All right Nancy, got a great hole for you. 17 here.
Nancy Lopez (04:18):
Pawleys Plantation. 138 yards today, what club is that for you?
Nancy Lopez (04:26):
All right, let’s go. Nancy, it’s a funny thing, I notice your wedge seems to have an eight stamped on the bottom of it.
Nancy Lopez (04:34):
Oh, how’d that happen?
All right, let’s see it. What a pretty [inaudible 00:04:40]
Nancy Lopez (04:39):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
That’s dead on right there.
Nancy Lopez (04:46):
Get in there. Get…
We’ll take that one.
Nancy Lopez (04:48):
I’ve got more in store for you, so don’t click that clicker.
You mentioned how much golf has done for you, exceeding what your expectations were. I know a lot of us that golf has been really kind to, for me, providing the education and a way to support my family. But the relationships that come along with it?
Nancy Lopez (05:26):
Is that why so many of us, when I say us, people in the golf industry, are so passionate about getting kids involved because we know not everybody’s going to make the LPGA or the PGA Tour-
Nancy Lopez (05:40):
But if you play golf and you play it for a lifetime, you’re going to get so much more out of it than you could possibly put into it.
Nancy Lopez (05:47):
Absolutely. Golf, to me, probably kept me out of trouble. I’m on the golf course and-
I know you’re a troublemaker at heart.
Nancy Lopez (05:56):
I might have been, we’ll never know. I used to do crazy things, I won’t to tell you what I did, but I was still a good person. That’s what my dad always told me to be, a good person, honest, and work hard. And so I always kind of share that with kids too. Unfortunately though, my three girls don’t play golf. I wish they would’ve played because I know when I’m doing anything with junior golfers, especially the little girls, I kind of feel like they’re my little girls. And this is the thing that I didn’t get to experience with them, but that’s okay.
I think a lot of golf fans out there, they look at golf professionals and they don’t see humans that are dealing with spouses or dealing with children. Sort of look at golf pros as like robots. I’m more interested in telling that sort of story or finding out what’s going on with a player, things that you can’t measure with a laser or put in a spreadsheet. Because people don’t realize how emotional playing this game is and how you still have to deal with life, even though you’re a golf professional.
Nancy Lopez (06:58):
Oh, absolutely Charlie. I know I’m married now my third time, so my personal life wasn’t always perfect. But I have three great daughters from it. The thing is, when I played golf and there was anything that I had to go through in my personal life or just life, I always kind of left it outside the ropes. I always say enjoy, I enjoyed walking inside the ropes. I kind of let life go away with whatever situation I was trying to handle, whatever feelings I was having. That was the only way I could really go out there and play golf. And when I would walk inside the ropes and start playing golf, I loved it. And I knew if I was going to be away from my kids and I didn’t want to waste that time away from them. So I wanted to be my best.
Now I’ve been fortunate in my broadcast career to be around a ton of Hall of Famers, men, women. And I look at your career, what you accomplished, and then your demeanor, how you carry yourself. You are by far the nicest athlete that I’ve ever been around in my life.
Nancy Lopez (08:10):
Oh you’re sweet. Thank you.
By far. And I just want to ask you, if you had been meaner, do you think you’d have won more than 48 times?
Nancy Lopez (08:21):
Well, I think if I wouldn’t have had three babies, I would’ve won more than 48 times.
We’re going to finish up on 18, since I’m your caddy.
Nancy Lopez (08:29):
Sounds like a plan.
I’m going to ask you to hit driver. You don’t mind hitting driver, do you?
Nancy Lopez (08:33):
Yeah, no, I love my driver.
Never have said that in my life. Okay, Nancy, before I get you to hit this driver, I want to ask you. You have these tees out everywhere you go, Nancy Lopez golf adventures.com, which is your business, obviously. But on the top of the tee, very visibly, it says, “Play happy.” I know everybody doesn’t like to play happy, I like to play angry. I wish I could play happy, but tell me about that tee and your company.
Nancy Lopez (09:07):
Well, maybe I need to give you a few of these tee so you can keep looking at them.
It won’t hurt.
Nancy Lopez (09:12):
We teach my dad’s philosophies with Nancy Lopez Golf Adventures, and “Play Happy,” was something my dad always told me. Because I think as he watched me as a young player, if he saw me get a little angry, he knew I didn’t play better. So he always said, “Nancy, when you play happy, you play better.” So that’s where we got that from.
That’s a great philosophy. The other thing is we get older, it’s a little harder to tee that golf ball up. And I like the big tee.
Nancy Lopez (09:38):
It is, it helps the ball not fall off the tee when you’re shaking.
All right, let’s see a drive right down the middle.
Nancy Lopez (09:43):
Like I said, drive right down the middle.
Nancy Lopez (09:50):
I’ll take that one.
That got some run in it too. Nancy, I know you got a lot of places you can be on a day like this, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me for you to come spend a day with me here in Myrtle Beach.
Nancy Lopez (10:10):
Well, Charlie, any time. I had a great time today.
All right, Nancy.
Nancy Lopez (10:14):
This isn’t exactly in your make zone, but I’m betting you get it up there pretty close. I’ll tend the flag.
Nancy Lopez (10:20):
That’s what I’m here for, I’m going to try and make it.
Nancy Lopez (10:27):
Go! Oh, darn it.
All right, I’m going to give you the rest of that one.
Nancy Lopez (10:33):
You’re so kind.
Nancy, you’re the best. It’s always great to spend time with you. Thank you so much for coming out.
Nancy Lopez (10:39):
Thanks, Charlie. Thank you. It’s so great to see you.
Appreciate it. Thank you so much. We’re headed to break, but don’t go too far. More the Charlie Rymer Golf Show when we come back.
Nothing beats golf in Myrtle Beach. I’m showing off and playing some of our best courses all while giving you some advice for your game. This is Charlie’s Golf Tips.
The par three third at True Blue might be the strongest par three in all of Myrtle Beach. Think about that folks, there’s a lot of great par threes in Myrtle Beach. It sure helps when you’re playing this hole if you can take it in there high and you absolutely have to stripe it or you’re going to be swimming. How do you take it in high? Well have a look. So here’s what I got, nearly 200 yards over an alligator infested pond to a very skinny area. What this calls for is a moon ball. That’s right, folks, a moon ball. I got to launch this straight up in the air. Now how am I going to do that? Well, I got two things for you. Number one, you can see I got that ball teed up. That’s going to help me get this ball up in the air. I don’t want to take a divot, I want to sweep it off of that tee. The second thing I want to do, is I want to have a high finish. I want my shaft to finish, swing my left ear, my left shoulder. If I’m swinging high in particular, picking up off of that tee, I’ll hit this ball really high.
Come on, moon ball.
That a baby. That’s dropped in from a million feet up in the air. Get that finish between the left ear and the left shoulder. Take it off the top of that tee. You can get it high too. The par five fourth is a kind of hole that can make or break your round. You can make a three here, you can make an eight here, you can make any score in between. For most golfers, the best way to play this par five is to go up that right hand side, but be very careful with that second shot. It gets a little bit narrow when you’re trying to lay the ball up. A ton of slope in this green, it works from right to left. The real key to playing this hole is having a solid game plan and sticking to it. This is the most interesting tee shot at True Blue.
Most of the time when I give golf tips, I target the average golfer. This one is for the more advanced golfer because if you’re a strong hitter and you’re smart with your strategy here, you have a chance to get home in two. And as you’ve seen, this is incredible par five, especially that second shot. But what you got to realize is the farther you hit it straight away, the farther you get away from the hole. So what you got to do is challenge that left hand side of the fairway and the water. If you get within 15 or 20 yards of the water on the left, you’re going to have a chance to get home in two here, no problem at all. The easiest way to do that’s a little bit of a draw. What I like to do and when I’m hitting the draw is feel like my swing path is a little bit out to the right. If I do that, that gets that ball to turn over a little bit. And if I pull it off, I might have a chance at getting on this par five in two. Or you could bail it out to the right and turn this into a three shot hole.
I sure do love me a good short par three, and that’s exactly what we have here in the seventh at True Blue, 135 yards. The green is on a really tough angle, especially if you move the ball from right to left. There’s a ton of slope from the back right down into the front left portion of this green. If you come in there with a draw, guess what? You’re going to have a hard time holding this green. You got to hit it in there high and soft, ideally a little bit left or right, but if you come up a little short man, do you have a deep bunker that you got to deal with. See, I told you this was a deep bunker, some of the deepest that you’ll see anywhere. And I know this is a shot that’s intimidating for a lot of people, but I got three things that’ll help you.
First and foremost, never try and help the ball up in the air. If you try and help the ball up in the air out of a bunker, you’re going to be in here for a long time. You got to hit down to make the ball go up. The next thing you got to remember is you got to get to this club face wide open, I mean a lot more open than you ever could imagine. And then finally, you got to have plenty of speed. This is not a delicate operation. So hit down, wide open club face, and get after it. You got to rip the britches down off of this thing as fast as you can. All right, let’s see what we got. Ooh, that’s high and soft right there. Did she go in? Nah, but it’s still pretty good. I hope these tips help your game. We need to go to one more break, but I won’t leave you for long. I’ve got really no idea what I’m doing DJ, they write this stuff down for me. But it’s like The Charlie Rymer Golf Show on ESPN. It’s a big deal. And I mean, what do you think?
I don’t know. All right, welcome back, I guess, but I definitely wouldn’t take any golf tips from this guy.
That hurts. You know I’m standing right here.
I see you. It’s hard to miss.
Have a look at the magnificent par three 16th, 165 yards. And all I can tell you folks, if you haven’t been practicing your golf game before your trip to Myrtle Beach, I hope you pack a snorkel. You might need it here, such a tough golf hole. The obvious bailout is over to the left, but if you go to the left, there might be a little bit more going on over there than you might think at first. So here in Myrtle Beach, we’ve got a lot of these waist bunkers, and believe it or not, you can drive your cart right through the middle of them. Now the deal is, if you hit your ball in the waist bunker, even though you can take a cart in there, you still have to play out of it.\.
And it’s a much different technique than a normal bunker. Why? Hear how hard that is? You got to drive the leading edge of the golf club under the ball to hit a good shot out of one of these hard-packed waist bunkers. How do you do that? It’s pretty simple. I’m going to lean into the shot a little bit, put more weight on my left side. I’m going to set the club quicker, going back, and I’m going to hold that set. That’ll help get the leading edge under the golf ball. It’ll come out a little bit lower and a little faster than a normal bunker. Let’s see what we get. You can’t hide talent.
At 370 yards length is not the problem here at the 17th at True Blue. The issue is visual intimidation. Yes, when you stand up on that tee, it looks like there’s nothing but water out there. Couldn’t be further from the truth. This fairway has plenty of width to it. Just get over it, folks. Pick a small target and put it out there on the fairway. Now, when you’re playing your second, the water very much is in play. Obviously, you don’t want to shoot at that front right hole location. Most of the time the best thing to do is to take it in on that left side. And if you miss a little short and left, as you can see, no problem at all. Here’s how you tackle that third shot from short and left. One of the things I really like about True Blue is there’s a lot of closely mown areas around the greens, and that gives you a ton of options.
What does that mean? Well, I’m a little short and left here at 17, I got three main options. I can take the putter and that pretty much takes disaster completely out of play. I’m not going to hit a horrible shot with a putter. If I want to sort of take on maybe a little bit more risk, but also have the potential to have some reward, I’m going to go with a pitching wedge, I’m going to put it back in my stance and I’m going to run it up there. Pretty good play there. And if I absolutely have to make it and I don’t really care if I hit a bad shot that’s going to embarrass me, I’m going to take my lob wedge and I’m going to try and fly this all the way to the hole. Comes up a little bit short, and that’s the danger of hitting the lob wedge. The other two, they look like they’re the way to go to me.
Ah, take a deep breath, soak it in. This is one of the best finishing holes you’ll find anywhere. It’s absolutely beautiful. Most players can pull the driver and blast away, the line is a far right edge of the clubhouse. Now, if you’re a little bit longer off the tee, you might think about taking a three wood because that fairway does run out pretty quickly on the right hand side. There is a ton of slope, both in the fairway and at the green that you have to deal with when you play this 18th hole. Here’s how you tackle that. So there’s a couple things going on here in the 18th hole, let me go over them for you. First and foremost, this whole fairway tilts from right to left, that’s going to want to make the ball work to the left.
As you may have noticed, there’s some water left of this green and that’s never good. The other thing that’s going on is the green itself, as Johnny Miller always talked about, has sideboards, there’s a lot of slope up there working from right to left. You got to pick up on stuff like that. What I’m going to do is aim this ball out 50, 60 feet right of the hole. I’m going to let this slope here in the fairway get that ball moving right to left, and then I’m going to let the slope on the green help me get this one in close to the hole. Come on, give me that big kick. There we go. I love it when a plan comes together.
Hear those crickets waking up? Sounds like it’s time to close out another episode. I’m a firm believer that laughter is a key to a happy life, and it’s certainly a prescription for the tough times. And I’ll bet you haven’t had a single great moment in your life that didn’t involve laughter with friends and loved ones, or at least a big smile if you were by yourself. Now, I’m not saying laughter is a cure to hitting three straight balls out of bounds to the right on number seven, but it’s going to get you back to the golf course the next day. Same with life. Hope you’ve enjoyed The Charlie Rymer Golf Show, and keep it in a fairway, folks.
Nancy Lopez (21:38):
And it was frustrating because I think, Whoa.
Oh no, sorry about that.
Nancy Lopez (21:44):
Speaker 4 (21:44):
Hey Charlie, can you give me a clap?
See, this is my show, I get to clap. Like if you start trying to clap, I’m going to get mad at you. If you want to do the clap, you get your show.
Nancy Lopez (21:58):
Okay. I won’t clap, I promise.
It looks like it’s pretty simple, but there’s a lot-
Nancy Lopez (22:02):
I have big hands so I make a good clapping sound.
Okay. See, that was perfect. That was a good one there too. Nancy, you want to clap?
Nancy Lopez (22:14):