Byron Nelson

Byron-Nelson

Born: February 4th, 1912 in Waxahachie, Texas
Died: September 26th, 2006 (at age 94) in Roanoke, Texas
Nationality: American
Famous For: Winning 11 consecutive tournaments
Awards: Congressional Gold Medal

Byron Nelson was an American professional golf player between 1935 and 1946, as well as a sports commentator when he retired from golf. His nickname was Lord Byron because he had a quiet dignity about him. He won several tournaments during his relatively short career. He is mainly remembered today for winning eleven consecutive golf tournaments and a total of eighteen events in 1945.

Early Years

Nelson was born on February 4th, 1912, just outside of Waxahachie, Texas. His father was a cotton farmer. When Byron Nelson was eleven years old, his family moved to Fort Worth, Texas. There, he suffered a severe bout of typhoid fever that he barely survived. A year later Nelson became a caddy at the Glen Garden golf course where he met future pro golfer, Ben Hogan.

Career

Nelson became a professional golfer in 1932. In 1934, while he was a golf pro in Arkansas, he met and married Louise Shofner. He hit his golf peak at the end of World War II. In seventy-five starts (1944 through 1946), Nelson won thirty-four times, as well as finished in second place sixteen times. During that three year time period, Nelson only finished once (1946) out of the top ten when he tied for thirteenth place at Pensacola.

His last official PGA Tour golf win was in 1952, at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournament. In 1955, he won the French Open. Nelson had a significant influence on Ken Venturi, as well as many other young players such as Tom Watson with their golf games. He also had a career has an ABC Sports television commentator that lasted several years.

Retirement Years and Death

In 1946, Nelson retired from pro golf when he was thirty-four to become a rancher. Later, he became a well-respected sports commentator. Nelson was married for fifty years and his wife, Louise, died in 1985. In 1987, Nelson married for a second time. Bryon Nelson died on September 26th, 2006, at his Roanoke home in Texas.

Golf Legacy

In Nelson’s brief golf career, he won fifty-four official golf tournaments, which included the 1942 and 1937 Masters, the 1939 U.S. Open, and the 1940 and 1945 PGA Championships. Nelson finished one hundred and thirteen straight times in the money. His 1945 streak of eleven straight victories is thought to be the least attainable record to break in professional golf. Arnold Palmer said Bryon Nelson was his idol when he was growing up.

Nelson’s total of eighteen victories in 1945, seven second place finishes, nineteen consecutive rounds under seventy are the best season ever in the golf’s history. The HP Byron Nelson Championship was the very first PGA Tour golf tournament to be named after a professional golfer. Many give him credit for developing the modern golf swing.

In 1974, he received the prestigious Bob Jones Award, which is the highest honor that is give by the U.S. Golf Association. The same year he was admitted as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. In 1997, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the PGA Tour, he was the second recipient of this award. In 2006, he received the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously.