Byron Nelson

1912 - 2006

Byron Nelson was born in the same year as Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. These three ushered in the glory days of professional golf which lasted from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Born in Texas, Nelson learned the game as a caddie. He learned to adapt his golf swing to the newest technology to hit the game in the 1930s: steel shafts, which replaced hickory.

He won The Masters in 1937 and again in 1942. He added major victories at the U.S. Open and twice at the PGA Championship. More major titles might have been his had World War II not forced the cancellation of 14 of the 24 major championships between 1940 and 1945. He played on two winning Ryder Cup Teams, and led the 1965 team to victory as captain.

In 1940, Nelson was selected the head pro at Inverness Club, beating out Ben Hogan for the job. He sold clubs, shoes, and umbrellas and gave golf lessons at a time when tournament winnings alone wouldn’t support him and his family. But his game didn’t suffer: He won two major championships while head professional at Inverness. He left at the end of 1944 to pursue tournament golf full time.

In 1945, Nelson enjoyed a record-breaking year. He won 18 PGA tournaments, including 11 in a row. His streak remains one of the magic numbers in all of sports.