(November 3, 2023) – In July Arabella Lopez stood on the green of the par-5 16th at Tashua Knolls Golf Course looking over a 10-foot birdie putt that would give her control of the 58th Connecticut Women’s Amateur with just two holes remaining in the final round. It wasn’t long before that Lopez had trailed by as many as five strokes but now she controlled her own destiny.
After surveying the putt from all angles Lopez stood over the putt, struck it pure, and when it slammed into the bottom of the cup moments later Lopez not only was primed to win the Connecticut Women’s Amateur but had also signed, sealed, and delivered the signature moment of her 2023 Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year award campaign.
“Winning the Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year award is pretty cool,” said Arabella Lopez who became the youngest player to win the award. “I think it shows how hard I have worked over the course of the year and I think it is a good stepping stone, a cool thing to add to my resume and I am super excited about it.”
Lopez began playing golf when she was five years old in the backyard when her dad Luis put a plastic club in her hands. It didn’t take long for Lopez to have success.
“From the time I was seven years old I have always said that I wanted to be a professional golfer,” says Lopez. “I’ve always wanted to pursue [golf]. I want to play Division I college golf and then I want to go pro and reach the LPGA Tour and be one of the best there is.”
Lofty goals but goals that Lopez is well on the way to achieving. In 2022 as a 12-year-old if it hadn’t been for a couple of late slip-ups she might have been leading the Connecticut Women’s Open after the first round. Two months later as a member of Team Connecticut at the New England Girls’ Junior Amateur Lopez fired rounds of 68-73-74 at Manchester Country Club in Vermont to finish 1-under and in a tie for first place. She then defeated Morgan Smith of Massachusetts who currently plays golf at Georgetown in a playoff to win the title. Her strong play also helped Connecticut capture their first-ever girls’ team title.
“Winning the New England Girls’ Junior Amateur was so cool. My 68 [in the first round] was the first time that I had shot in the 60s at all. I was 12 at the time and that was probably one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had. To win in a 54-hole event was huge and it really boosted my confidence.”
Lopez took that confidence into 2023 and she made a splash early in the season winning the AJGA Preview at Bethpage Black in May. She then finished T8 at the Connecticut Women’s Open in June, third at the Connecticut Girls’ Junior in July, finished T5 in her title defense at the New England Girls’ Junior in August and along the way became the youngest player to ever win the Connecticut Women’s Amateur.
“Winning drives me to improve but also I really like being able to go out there and be confident in my ability,” explained Lopez. “I’ve always liked the competition and I like that you can always challenge yourself and there is always room to improve. There are always ways you can get better and it is just fun to work hard at getting better and when you finally see results it is pretty cool.”
The freshman at Ridgefield High School recently estimated in a Global Golf Post article that she practices 360 days a year. Lopez said that might have been a slight exaggeration but the point is well taken. Lopez rarely goes a day without working on her game in some way.
Lopez typically splits her practice time between her home club, Redding Country Club, and the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield.
“During the school year, I get out of school at 2:15 and I either get picked up or take a bus to the Golf Performance Center and I practice there or my dad will take me to Redding CC and I’ll practice there. [Both of] my parents are very important. My dad and my mom Sybilla make sure I get to everything I need to be at. My dad comes to most of my tournaments with me. He is always as helpful as he can be and I am very fortunate that I have them around to support me.”
Of course, for Lopez it isn’t all about golf and school. Away from the course she loves to ski although she does give skiing some credit for helping her golf game because it, “not only strengthens your core but it helps compartmentalize my body and really work on that separation between the lower half and the upper half.” In her limited spare time, she also enjoys reading, going to the beach, and hanging out with her friends.
However, it is her drive and constant desire to improve that has led to her success on the course. Lopez’s goals are lofty but her drive to reach them is in full throttle and it doesn’t appear that she is prepared to let her foot off the gas anytime soon.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut State Golf Association functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.