Lee Lopez deserves a semi-relaxing offseason, right? In 2015, she played in 23 Symetra Tour events, the U.S. Women’s Open and the IGPM event in Mexico. After finishing sixth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and securing LPGA membership for the first time, Lopez has enjoyed time catching up with friends and family in Whittier, California.
Recently, she also spent three days in New York City, went zip lining in La Jolla and went on a coastal hike in Catalina Island.
Now, she's narrowed her focus for 2016 to working on two things: fitness and short game.
"I've been doing a drill where I work on my 20-90 yards shots where I hit one ball from each distance,” explained Lopez, who posted 14 top-10 finishes in two seasons on the Symetra Tour. "No matter the outcome I move on to another distance after one shot so I can work on my feel and replicate a tournament setting as well as staying focused.”
Adding strength in the gym has been something Lopez has been keen on since the end of the 2014 season. During the offseason before the 2015 campaign, Lopez worked diligently to add distance off the tee. She improved from 234 yards per drive in 2014 to 241 yards per hit in 2015.
"I think I need to gain a little more distance off the tee to get me in positions to hit shorter clubs and go for par 5s in two,” said Lopez. “I also need to get my long game a little more consistent.”
Of course there are exceptions, but the longer hitters on the LPGA are generally the top players. Only four 2015 LPGA winners averaged under 250 yards off the tee – Inbee Park (247.995), Hyo Joo Kim (246.905), Kris Tamulis (244.951) and Chella Choi (241. 667).
Lopez has turned to longtime friend, Demi Runas, who was an LPGA Tour rookie in 2015 for advice. She also recently met Natalie Gulbis, who Lopez said was nice enough to offer great advice.
“I think what will be the most challenging is time management,” said Lopez. "Unlike the Symetra Tour, the LPGA plays four day events so I will have one day less a week to prepare and get to know the new courses. But knowing that, I can plan ahead and hopefully manage my travel and preparation well.”
Another thing Lopez is looking forward to is playing more on the west coast. There are two LPGA events in the state of California that she is guaranteed to play. She will also try to play her way into the U.S. Women’s Open in CordeValle.
"I'm excited that I'll spend more time on the west coast than I have in the past two years so my family and friends can come out to watch me,” said Lopez. "My goal on the LPGA in 2016 is to do my absolute best each and every day and enjoy this exciting journey."