I recently had the pleasure of spending the better part of an afternoon with Peggy Nelson, wife of former PGA Golf Legend Byron Nelson.
On this sunny spring afternoon, Mrs. Nelson sat in the comfort of her ranch home and took the time to sign, many with personal notes, to family, friends and fellow professional golfers her recently released book, “Life With Lord Byron.” In her words, it’s her account of the laughter, romance and lessons learned from golf’s greatest gentleman.
Mrs. Nelson tells me that she doesn’t mind admitting that she kind of grew up believing in fairy tales but never in her wildest imagination could she have ever imagined that one day her prince charming would arrive on a manicured plush golf green, of all places, wearing a straw fedora.
On a return visit, five years after initially meeting Nelson at the NCR Country Club in Dayton, Ohio, Mrs. Nelson says she remembers clearly what first impressed her about the man in the fedora, “How very kind he looked.” From there she says what followed was a whirlwind romance and a twenty-year story book marriage to her very own prince charming.
After many request from family and friends over the years who were intrigued of their story, as well as a personal desire of hers to share with others what kind of example Byron set through his everyday living, Mrs. Nelson decided to write this book. She says that she sent out over seventy letters to individuals who had known Byron over the years in attempt to capture their thoughts and experiences with him.
The following are several excerpts from our interview…
Q. How would you describe your life with Byron?
“He was a man that was quite consistent…a man of grace and humility and a hard working individual. He was a man who really loved to give people gifts of any kind, especially something that he would make in his wood shop. “
Q. Any particular story from the book that is special for you?
Golf course architect, Jay Morrish worked with Byron on several projects over the years. He tells Mrs. Nelson, “When he gets to heaven the first person he wants to see is not any of his family or friends necessarily, he wants to see Byron.”
Included with the book is an audio CD with exerts from a Nelson interview done by golf writer Russ Pate in 1995 celebrating the 50th anniversary of Byron’s 11 tournament victory streak.
Mrs. Nelson tells me she’s quite fond of one the stories that Byron shares from that interview, it revolves around win No. 7 of the streak. The tournament was the Philadelphia Inquirer Invitational. Byron was staying at the home of Jug McSpadden, a rival and friend on the tour. She says Jug was leading Byron by 2 shots at the start of the 4th round. Because there were no leader boards to observe in those days, Byron had no idea how well Jug was playing. Byron had now made his way to the 13th tee, preparing to tee off, and an older friend of his walked out to see how Byron was playing. Mrs. Nelson says he asked Byron, “So how you doing kid?” Byron tells him, “Oh I’ve got to par in for 68.” The friend tells Byron, “That’s not good enough, McSpadden just shot 66.” So Byron looked at his friend and said, “That’s means I’ve got to shoot 5 under in.”
Mrs. Nelson says after an eagle, some birdies, a driver off of 18 and a 6 iron to the green, Byron was left with a two footer for birdie and the win. Nelson drains the putt for the birdie and who else other than McSpadden was standing there on the 18th green staring in disbelief.
She says when it was time to accept their prizes McSpadden didn’t use any swear words but he called Byron every name in the world. But none the less, Byron’s 63 was good enough that day for win No. 7 of the streak. Thanks to a good friend, win No. 7 and the four wins to follow, still holds the PGA record for consecutive tournament victories by a golfer.
“Life with Lord Byron” is not available in book stores but can be purchased on line at www.byronnelson-golfpro.com. Books will also be available for sale the week of the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament, May 20-23. Golf fans purchasing a copy of the book will have an opportunity for their book to be signed by Mrs. Nelson.
You can see more of our interview with Peggy Nelson on Dale Hansen’s Sports Special, Master’s Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:35 pm on Channel 8.