Spring River Golf Course will now be known as Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River, following a unanimous vote by City Council members present, Thursday.
In a phone interview earlier that day, Lopez, who is in the middle of the LPGA’s Legends Tour, said the idea at first made her a little uncomfortable.
“That’s something that usu[auth] ally happens when you pass away,” she said, laughing. “I just don’t think I’m that big a deal … all I did was play golf.”
What made her able to win, she said was due to her dad Domingo “Sunday” Lopez teaching her “the mental part of game.”
“I’m really blessed,” she said. “God gave me a lot of talent, but my dad nurtured that talent.
“Roswell is my home; it’s where I grew up, where I made all my friends. I appreciate all the people that did help me with my career. You always remember the people that supported you.”
In what City Manager Larry Fry said was a first, the council later held a special meeting outdoors, in the pavilion of the golf course to vote on the name change.
The purpose of the meeting, along with the sunny, warm conditions and sounds of birds in the air, left several people in attendance to remark it was “truly a good day for Roswell.”
Councilor Elena Velasquez moved to change the name of Spring River Golf Course to “Nancy Lopez Golf Course.” Before the vote, the council took comments from the community, where many spoke of Lopez’s accomplishments and humble attitude toward them.
“She is all that is right about Roswell,” said Diane Taylor, calling her a positive role model for all children and “the Tiger Woods of ladies’ golf.”
Former Sen. Tim Jennings, said Lopez’s success and her family’s involvement in it “is a great testament to family values,” and hoped that renaming the course will lead to expansion of it and encourage children to play.
The lone voice of opposition was a woman who identified herself as an avid golfer. While she said she liked Lopez, she said she already has a school named for her and felt the entire effort to be rushed.
Velasquez responded that it was not an overnight decision.
“Whether you agree or disagree, you can’t take away what Nancy’s done,” she said. “For us, as a Hispanic community, it is a proud day. It is a proud moment.”
Hispano Chamber of Commerce president Romo Villegas said all 16 members of the chamber support the effort. Villegas learned golf from Nancy’s father, and still plays golf at the course.
Councilman Barry Foster offered a friendly amendment to Velasquez’s motion to add “at Spring River” to “let people know it’s here in Roswell.” The amendment passed after the mayor broke a tie vote.
Some councilors felt the name change would unite a divided community. Councilor Savino Sanchez said the city has many things that need changing and “if this is where it starts, then let’s do it.”
After the vote, the Mayor spoke by phone to Lopez, who tearfully expressed gratitude.
“Roswell’s where I grew up, it’s where a lot of my friends still are,” she said. “If my dad were alive, he’d be very excited about it.”
Council members Art Sandoval and Jimmy Craig did not attend the meeting.