Personal Encounters With Byron

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One final Byron Nelson article, this from several people who were lucky enough to have had personal encounters:
 
  • I had a brief encounter with Mr. Nelson at the first tee of the par-3 contest at the Masters when my son, Bo Van Pelt, invited me to caddy for him in his first Masters appearance. Afterwards, we posed for a few cherished pictures to savor that moment in time. Bo very quietly said, 'Dad, this is Mr. Byron Nelson.' We shook hands and Mr. Nelson said, 'Mr. Van Pelt, this has to be a very special moment for you and your son. It was a humble understatement. In that brief moment we understood that we were in the presence of greatness, a grace and humility that God grants to very special people.
     

  • I worked with him on an article when I edited the Arizona Golf Journal 20 years ago. I met Byron Nelson on a golf course in Scottsdale. I also was nervous about trying to connect with him on a project but I had to try. He said, 'Sure, I'll talk to you, just call me, I'm in the phonebook under Nelson.' ... I made the call only to set up an appointment, so as not to impose. He answered the phone, asked me how I was doing, took a minute to introduce me to his wife Peggy, and asked me to call back in 45 minutes - he was eating supper and had to get the dishes out of the way. When I called back, we talked for 45 minutes, some to the point of my article and some on the ranch my mother grew up on in northern Arizona.
     

  • The year: 1968. The setting: the customer waiting area a car dealership in Dallas. I was a 25-year-old sometime assistant golf pro and sometime player.
    There were only two of us in the waiting area: me and Mr. Byron Nelson. I asked him what it took to be a pro. Without hesitation he said, Let's have a look at your grip. There were no clubs in the waiting area, but there was a thick phone line that dangled from one of the old style push-button phones with a bank of about 10 lines. He handed me the cord. I placed my hands on it and he made some adjustments: weakened my left and strengthened my right. It was an example of great honesty, integrity to the game, and his humility.
     

  • Early in 1989, Mr. Nelson and D. A. Weibring had purchased the Riverside Golf club in Grand Prairie, TX. I played the course the initial day it reopened. They were having a 'beat the pro day' with Mr. Weibring on one of the par 3's. While playing up to that hole I noticed a cart with an older gentleman and younger lady moving on an adjacent hole. I told my playing partner that I thought the gentleman looked a lot like Byron Nelson. Much to our surprise, when we reached the par 3 eighth, there was Mr. Weibring standing next to Byron Nelson! There was a small backup on the tee and we had about 5 or 10 minutes to speak with these two gentlemen. I found Mr. Nelson to be an extremely gracious man and an absolute joy to talk with. Prior to leaving the tee to go to the green, we convinced Mr. Nelson to hit a shot to the green for us. He used my 1979 Ben Hogan Apex II 6 iron and while the shot was not hit solidly, that did not matter. I had an opportunity to see a living legend strike a golf ball with one of my clubs! To this day, I still own that set of irons and would not part with them for any amount of money.
     

  • Almost 8 years ago, I had the (fill-in the blank) to call Mr. Nelson to see if I could visit with him in his home. I was fairly new to the game, but had passionately fallen in love with the game, its history, and heroes. I thought to myself, 'Why not, the worst thing he could say was no.' But not Mr. Nelson. With a dry twisted-tongue and butterflies flying out of formation, I called and he graciously agreed to meet in two days at 9:30 am. The half-hour visit flew by, but I felt that I had easily experienced 60 years of golf history! Before leaving, I asked Mr. Nelson if he would sign my copy of his little black book. It, along with two other little golf books, has its very own place in my room!
     

  • For many of us average (or below average) golfers that were lucky enough to see him at his tournament, Byron was always friendly and would wave, patiently sign autographs, and talk about the sport he loved so much. In my case, because I lived in Roanoke (Texas) for 10 years, I was lucky enough to see him several times. EVERYONE there loved Byron and they will certainly miss him.
     

  • I stood behind him in a gallery at the Memorial Tournament one year, and my friend was prodding me to talk to him. All I could do was just stare at him from the side, too shy to approach. I wish I had the nerve then, now.
     
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