Palm Coast Arts Foundation's 10th turtle on the Turtle Trail honors a living legend.
Nancy Lopez, who was hired as the touring pro for the Palm Harbor Golf Course in 1978 and went on to win 48 LPGA tour events in a Hall of Fame career, returned to the course Sept. 29 for the unveiling of a turtle that was painted in her honor.
The turtle was the 10th on the Turtle Trail, sponsored by members of the community through the efforts of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation. Each turtle is painted by a different artist, this one by Bob Teller.
Lopez said she had her husband, Ed Russell, love turtles and were happy to visit the course again, where Lopez participated in many tournaments with other golf legends such as Lee Trevino and Gary Player.
“It’s nice to see friends you haven’t seen in a while, and it’s special be part of this,” Lopez said. She also said that a charity golf tournament that was canceled due to the pandemic will be rescheduled for next year, to benefit PCAF.
Golf in Palm Coast
PCAF Executive Director Nancy Crouch was master of ceremonies for the crowd of about 100 people outside the clubhouse, which is the starting point for 115,000 golf rounds per year. Many elected officials were in attendance, including Mayor Milissa Holland, who delivered a speech about the importance the course has played in the city’s history.
“It’s the teamwork between the city, the Historical Society and the Palm Coast Arts Foundation that reinforces our spirit of community.”
MILISSA HOLLAND, mayor
“On Sept. 14, 1971, ITT Corp. introduced a beautiful golf course to Palm Coast’s growing number of residents, promising quality rounds where the tall palms and pines would welcome scores of players and pros,” Holland said. “And in 1978, they kept this promise."
Lopez's fame attracted others, and she also "personally played alongside many of our original pioneer residents," Holland said.
Among the “pioneer residents” who played with Lopez was David Hayes. He has lived in Flagler Beach since 1957 and worked for ITT from 1976 to 2003. At the ceremony, he held a photo of himself caddying for another golf pro at a Palm Coast tournament, Laura Baugh, when he was 18. He also recalled that when Lopez was living in the Fairways Condos at the course, “I’d be walking along and carrying my clubs, and she’d say, ‘David, do you want to play a few holes?’”
Art in public places
Mery Gable, a volunteer with the Palm Coast Historical Society, was the sponsor of the turtle, named Nancy Marie after Nancy Marie Lopez.
“I wanted to memorialize this legendary golfer,” Gable said, adding that Billy Casper was also a key figure in those days in Palm Coast.
After the ceremony, Crouch said the Turtle Trail has attracted visitors to Palm Coast, and residents also have brought their guests to see all the turtles as they show them around town.
“It gives the community a sense of artistic buy-in,” she said.
“These turtles are a perfect blend of art and history,” Historical Society President Elaine Studnicki said.
City Councilman Nick Klufas added: “I consider public art a catalyst for creativity. These turtles represent the inclusivity of creative thinking.”
The 11th turtle will be unveiled in October. Visit https://www.palmcoastartsfoundation.com/the-turtle-trail.