WAPL Champion Memories: Nancy Taylor Capps (1982)

Nancy Taylor (now Capps) won the 1982 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, Kan. (USGA Museum)
By David Shefter, USGA
May 29, 2014

Nancy Taylor (now Capps), of Phoenix, defeated Kerri Clark, of North Las Vegas, Nev., 2 and 1, to win the 1982 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, Kan. Taylor was a 22-year-old senior-to-be at Arizona State University who grew up traveling the country – and the world – as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She graduated high school in the Republic of Korea after spending her three previous years in Hawaii. Her family moved 24 times by the time she matriculated at ASU. A runner-up in the 1983 WAPL to Kelli Antolock, Taylor spent 16 years in the professional ranks, including 13 on the LPGA Tour. She later became a golf instructor and college golf coach. Now married to an architectural photographer, Capps is the associate head coach at NCAA Division II Queens College in Charlotte, N.C.

What do you remember about the 1982 WAPL?

That year was really exciting for me. I qualified [for the championship] being sick. Then to go ahead and get there and eventually end up winning it was quite interesting. One of the biggest outcomes was I got into the [U.S.] Women’s Open and [U.S.] Women’s Amateur. Those were real big in terms of my career. It just kind of fueled the fire in terms of my goals.

How did you do in the Women’s Open?

It was in Sacramento [at Del Paso Country Club]. I didn’t make the cut, but it was an incredible experience.

You had some battles with Kelli Antolock in both 1982 and ’83. You needed 19 holes to beat her in the 1982 semifinals. Was there a rivalry?

We were both really good competitors. It was full circle the next year in Hawaii [at Ala Wai Golf Course in Honolulu]. It was interesting because that’s where I started playing golf. She just ended up beating me on the last hole and playing a little bit better. But that was Kelli. She kept me from winning [the WAPL] twice.

What was your mindset for the final in 1982?

With match play, it’s a little bit different focus in a sense that you are playing the individual, but again you’re [also] playing the golf course. A lot of times when people get into match play, they’ll start competing against the other person and I think that’s where you can have a downfall. You’ve got to keep the same focus and be in the moment for every shot and stay with your game plan.

What did winning the WAPL do for your career?

I called my coach at Arizona State and said I wanted a scholarship. Winning the tournament actually gave me a golf scholarship. I was a walk-on initially. I had only been playing golf two to three years when I got to college. I worked really hard to get on the “B” team. And I worked real hard to get on the traveling team. I think it was a natural progression of a lot of hard work.

How did you get to Arizona State from Korea?

I had a friend in Hawaii who played at the University of Hawaii, Jeannette Kerr, who is now Jeannette Kolhaas. Also there was a man named Dirk Prather who worked for my dad in Korea. Dirk was on the ASU golf team with Tom and Paul Purtzer, but he chose to go into the Air Force instead of professional golf. He actually helped me a little bit with my golf game when I was in Korea. With the influences of Dirk and Jeannette, [who transferred to ASU], and the fact that two of my older sisters were going to college in northern Arizona, and the fact that I wanted to pursue golf, all melted together.

Do your current players at Queens College know much about the WAPL?

I think they have knowledge of it. If they know you won a national championship and played on the LPGA Tour, they respect that. Is it relevant to them? It’s been a long time. They know people who are current. If you can get one of [the current LPGA stars] to speak to them, it might be slightly more significant just because they are more relatable and closer in age. Unless it’s a big name like Nancy Lopez, they don’t recognize much from my generation.

What do you enjoy most about coaching collegians?

The big thing with the game of golf is it’s a big influencing tool for life. I enjoy giving back and helping to make a difference in the lives of young ladies, whether they choose to pursue golf professionally or just play collegiate sports. The big thing is to have an impact on their lives and give them the discipline and focus in this ever-changing world we are living in.

Are you saddened by the WAPL being retired?

Everything is revolving and changing. Of course, for me, it’s a little sad. If [the USGA] feels a need for a change that will promote the game of golf better long term, then you need to upgrade. It’s just like being a golfer and a coach. Everyone is constantly trying to improve.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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