Golf Talk Live - Byron Nelson Transcript Segment 1

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GOLF TALK LIVE - BYRON NELSON
JAN. 26, 2001

TEASE
BYRON NELSON IS THE FATHER OF THE MODERN SWING. HE WAS THE FIRST PLAYER TO FIND THE IDEAL SWING WITH WHICH TO PLAY STEEL SHAFTED CLUBS. IT'S A SWING THAT OTHER PLAYERS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO COPY THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF SINCE THE MID 1930'S.
MEET BYRON NELSON, NOW, ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

(MUSIC)

PETER KESSLER
BYRON NELSON WAS THE FIRST PLAYER TO WORK OUT A SWING IN THE EARLY 1930'S THAT MAXIMIZED THE EFFECTIVENESS AND POTENTIAL OF THE NEWLY INTRODUCED STEEL SHAFTED CLUBS. MORE UPRIGHT. LESS AROUND. LESS

HANDSY. MORE ONE PIECE. WITH ACTIVE FEET AND LEGS AND A LATERAL MOVE THROUGH THE BALL WITH THE CLUB AND HANDS AHEAD AND HIS HEAD BACK. HE TURNED PRO FOR A $5 ENTRY FEE AND

WON $75 FOR FINISHING THIRD IN HIS FIRST EVENT IN 1932. AS A PLAYING ASSISTANT IN 1935 AT RIDGEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB IN NEW JERSEY, HE WON THE NEW JERSEY OPEN AND THE NEW JERSEY PGA AND THE

METROPOLITAN OPEN AT QUAKER RIDGE, HIS FIRST IMPORTANT VICTORY. AND HE BEGAN TO BEAT THE PLAYERS HE WOULD CONTINUE TO BEAT UNTIL HE RETIRED IN 1946 AT THE AGE OF 34. PLAYERS LIKE,

CRAIG WOOD, PAUL RUNYAN, HARRY COOPER, DENNY SCHUTE, HENRY PICKARD, SAM SNEAD, BEN HOGAN, JUG MCSPADEN, JOHNNY BULLA, RALPH GOUDAL.

HE WON THE MASTERS IN 1937 AND 1942.

THE U.S. OPEN IN 1939.

THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1940 AND 1945. HIS 18 WIN, 11 IN A ROW SEASON IN 1945 WAS SET UP BY HIS GREAT YEAR IN 1944 WHEN HE WON SIX TIMES WITH A SCORING AVERAGE OF 69.67. HE HIT IT SO PURE, SO OFTEN, SO CONSISTENTLY, THAT HE OCCASIONALLY BECAME BORED.

HE DETERMINED AFTER THE '44 SEASON THAT HE WOULD WORK ON HIS CHIPPING AND REDUCE CARELESS SHOTS IN 1945. HE WON MONEY IN 113 CONSECUTIVE EVENTS AT A TIME WHEN ONLY 15 OR 20 PLACES EARNED MONEY. HE SET A SINGLE SEASON

SCORING RECORD OF 68.33 IN 1945 WHICH STOOD UNTIL TIGER BROKE IT IN 2000. HE PASSED ON HIS KNOWLEDGE TO PLAYERS FROM KEN VENTURI TO TOM WATSON

AND TODAY AT 88, WHEN HE SEES A PLAYER ON TELEVISION LIKE JUSTIN LEONARD, WITH THE WAGGLE THAT BYRON DEEMS TOO HANDSY, HE PICKS UP THE PHONE, ASKS TO SEE JUSTIN AND MAKES THE SEVERAL HOUR DRIVE TO DEMONSTRATE HOW IT'S DONE. JUST LIKE HE'S BEEN DOING SINCE 1932.

WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO ONE OF THE FINEST PLAYERS, ONE OF THE FINEST PEOPLE TO EVER PLAY THE GAME, BYRON NELSON. AN HONOR TO SEE YOU, SIR.

BYRON NELSON
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, PETER. I LOVE TO BE HERE AND TO ENJOY BEING ON THE... TELLY WITH YOU.

PETER KESSLER
THANK YOU, SIR. PRE-MATURE HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IF I MIGHT.

BYRON NELSON
WELL THANK YOU. I HOPE THE GOOD LORD WILL LET ME LIVE TILL NEXT WEEK FOR IT.

PETER KESSLER
(PETER LAUGHS)
YOU'RE THE ONLY GUY I KNOW, WHO'S BEEN RETIRED FOR 55 YEARS. YOU RETIRED AT AGE 34, HOW'S THE RETIREMENT GOING?

BYRON NELSON
WELL THAT'S STILL GOING THANK GOODNESS. (LAUGHS). BUT IT'S GOING BUSY, I STAY VERY BUSY AND I STILL AM VERY ACTIVE IN GOLF. I DON'T PLAY VERY MUCH GOLF, VERY SELDOM BUT I MAKE ABOUT 8 OR 9 APPEARANCES TO A TOURNAMENT OR THE RYDER CUP OR A

PRESIDENT'S CUP OR THE PLAYER'S CHAMPIONSHIP OR A SENIOR TOURNAMENT EACH YEAR AND SO I STILL STAY VERY CLOSE TO GOLF AND THE, ONE OF THE NICE THINGS IS THAT THE PLAYERS, BECAUSE I'M AN OLD SENIOR OUT THERE WALKING AROUND AND

LOOKING AND WATCHING THEM, WHY THEY DO APPRECIATE ME BEING OUT THERE.

PETER KESSLER
EVERY TIME SOMEONE HAS, AND IT'S ONLY HAPPENED A FEW TIMES IN THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS, A YEAR TO REMEMBER FOREVER ON THE GOLF COURSE, IT ALWAYS EVOKES COMPARISONS WITH YOU AND I'M

WONDERING BETWEEN JONES' 1930

BYRON NELSON
MHMM

PETER KESSLER
YOUR 1945, HOGAN'S '53 AND TIGER'S 2000. HOW DO YOU RANK THEM?

BYRON NELSON
WELL I KIND OF RANK THEM IN THE WAY THAT YOU JUST STARTED BECAUSE ACTUALLY, SEE, JONES' HAS BEEN KIND OF PLAYED DOWN, HIS GRAND SLAM, IN 1930 AND THE REASON FOR IT WAS, SEE, PEOPLE NOW FEEL THAT AMATEURS DON'T PLAY LIKE THE PROFESSIONALS BUT SEE

THERE WAS SO LITTLE MONEY IN GOLF IN THOSE DAYS THAT THE FINE AMATEURS STAYED AMATEURS BECAUSE THEY WENT INTO BUSINESS AND MADE A LIVING IN A BUSINESS AND SO THE, THE TOP AMATEURS IN THOSE DAYS, YOU TAKE JONES, WAMETT (??06:38), CHICK EVANS, THOSE THREE PLAYERS TO MENTION, NOT MENTION MANY MORE, PLAYED WONDERFULLY WELL

AND BEAT THE PROS BUT, AND NOW THEN THE PROS HAVE SOME... IT'S A COMPLETE DIFFERENT GAME. THE YOUNG KID NOW SEES THAT TIGER WOODS OR WHOEVER WINS A THOUSAND DOLLARS OR TEN, A MILLION DOLLARS OR 400 THOUSAND, THEY WANT TO START

PLAYING GOLF. THEY SEE THEM, PLAYING A LITTLE BIT, WELL NOW THEN THEY WANT TO GO OUT AND PLAY AND THEY, THEY CAN PICTURE THEMSELVES TRYING TO BEAT TIGER WOOD OR, OR BEATING DAVID DUVAL OR TOM LAYMAN OR ALL

THESE FINE PLAYERS, THINKING TO, HOW MUCH FUN JUST TO PLAY GOLF AND TO MAKE THAT MONEY. WELL IT WASN'T SO IN THOSE DAYS. THEY PLAYED GOLF, YOU PLAYED GOLF THEN FOR FUN ALMOST.

PETER KESSLER
HOW QUICKLY, AFTER STEEL SHAFTS WERE INTRODUCED, DID THEY REALLY CATCH ON IN THE VERY EARLY 1930'S?

BYRON NELSON
(LAUGHS) WELL IT'S A FUNNY THING. WHEN THEY FIRST CAME OUT, THE UH, I WAS AMAZED BECAUSE I LIKED THEM RIGHT AWAY, AND, OF COURSE I'D STARTED PLAYING WITH THE HICKORY

SHAFT AND NATURALLY I PLAYED THE ROLLING THE, PRONATION OF THE OLD (???UNINTELLIGIBLE) WHICH
YOU HAD TO DO TO USE THE HICKORY SHAFT AND THERE'S A LOT OF GREAT GOLF PLAYED THAT WAY, BUT I LOVED THEM RIGHT AWAY, BUT IT'S A FUNNY THING,
MANY, MANY PEOPLE SAID IT'LL NEVER CATCH ON. IT'LL NEVER REPLACE STEEL.

PETER KESSLER
WHAT DID IT SAY ABOUT GENE SARAZON THAT HE COULD WIN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE 20'S WITH HICKORY AND WIN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE 30'S WITH STEEL, ABOUT HIS ADAPTABILITY, ABOUT HIS ABILITY TO PLAY NO MATTER WHAT?

BYRON NELSON
WELL, THE SARAZON HAD AN UNUSUAL ATTITUDE ABOUT THE GAME. HE WAS ALWAYS VERY VOCAL ABOUT IT AND SOMETIMES VERY CRITICAL OF THINGS THAT WERE GOING ON, AND, BUT GENE HAD A TYPE OF SWING THAT WOULD WIN REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE WAS USING, BECAUSE HIS SWING, YOU KNOW, I, I

STARTED SEEING GENE PLAY, AND THEN I STARTED PLAYING WITH GENE IN THE MID, MID LATE 30'S AND I PLAYED GENE TWICE IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN HE WAS STILL PLAYING GREAT AND I WAS FORCED INTO (??) ON HIM BOTH TIMES, AND UH, SO HIS SWING WAS SO REPEATABLE, HE

DIDN'T HAVE ANY FALSE MOTIONS IN IT. HE WAS FAIRLY SHORT AND STALKY AND HE'D, HE'D JUST TURNED TO COME BACK AND HIT IT AND HE SET THE CLUB EXACTLY IN THE SAME POSITION. NATURALLY WHEN HE USING A HICKORY HE'D PRONATE A LITTLE BIT, WELL HE

QUIT PRONATING WHEN THE, WHEN THE STEEL CAME OUT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T, AND THAT'S THE ONLY THING HE HAD CHANGED. HE STARTED TAKING IT AWAY THIS WAY INSTEAD OF OPENING THE FACE

OF THE CLUB AND CLOSE IT BACK BECAUSE OF THE TORQUE IN THE WOODEN SHAFT, SO THAT'S WHY HIS GAME, HE COULD, GENE SARAZON COULD HAVE PLAYED WITH A SHINNY STICK.

PETER KESSLER
(LAUGHS)

BYRON NELSON
NOW I'M TELLING YOU. HE WAS SO GOOD. I, YOU KNOW, I WAS THINKING BECAUSE GENE AND I, YOU KNOW, FOR A LONG TIME, GENE AND I AND SNEAD PLAYED NINE HOLES AT THE MASTERS STARTING THE TOURNAMENT AND THEN WE GOT TOO OLD TO PLAY THE NINE SO WE STARTED HITTING BALLS OFF THE FIRST TEE.

BYRON NELSON
I DON'T, AND I PLAYED GENE TWICE IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, ONE IN 1941 AND AGAIN IN 1945 AND I NEVER SAW HIM HIT A, I DON'T SAY HE HIT EVERY SHOT PERFECT AND I DON'T MEAN THAT, BUT I NEVER SAW HIM HIT A SHOT LIKE YOU SEE SOME PLAYERS NOW KNOCKING OFF THE WOODS HERE

AND KNOCK IT OFF HERE. NOW HE MISSED SOME SHOTS. THEY VARIED SOME, BUT HE WAS

(MAKES SOUND WITH HIS MOUTH, 4 TIMES, REPRESENTING THE SOUND OF A GOLF CLUB SWINGING)

YOU, YOU KNEW YOU WAS GOING TO PLAY GOOD TO BEAT HIM BECAUSE HE DIDN'T MAKE MANY MISTAKES.

PETER KESSLER
THAT'S WHAT HE SAID ABOUT YOU.

BYRON NELSON
WELL, OF COURSE, COURSE I BEAT HIM TWICE.

THAT'S WHY.

PETER KESSLER
(LAUGHING)

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH BYRON NELSON.

(MUSIC)

(BREAK)
 
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