DALLAS (WFAA) -- Even though she helped her late husband write the book, Peggy Nelson still spends some Sunday mornings reading How I Played the Game, Byron Nelson’s autobiography.
“Everyone was so concerned the stories he had to tell would be lost if he did not write a book,” said Peggy.
Byron died in 2006 but a good amount of those stories and golf knowledge still spill like a fountain from Peggy when you get her talking about the game her husband mastered. When she and Byron met in 1981, she was not much of a golf fan but being married to a legend made it difficult to remain as such.
“My oldest brother up in Toledo have a one dollar bet each week on who will win the tournament,” she laughed. “He owes me 2 dollars right now.”
This weekend, that bet will be on the tournament carrying her husband’s namesake. It was 50 years ago Nelson was asked to help the fledgling Dallas Open. Peggy can recite the story of how he partnered with Arnold Palmer to give his hometown golf event a boost and ticket sales soared.
“He would have been licking his chops with this course. He would have said ‘no trees, I can do this.”
In its 50th year, there are also plenty of firsts for this year’s event. It is the first year women are in the Salesmanship Club and the first year admission will be totally free for Wednesday’s Pro-Am event.
But of all the stories Byron Nelson could tell about his many accomplishments in the game of golf, the one that filled him with most pride is the one that has never changed.
“(The Byron Nelson tournament) really led the way in terms of doing something besides just having a golf tournament,” said Peggy. “He said it was the best thing that happened to him in golf. Better than winning The Masters or the US Open or 11 straight tournaments because this helps people.”
Over its 50 year history, the Byron Nelson has raised more than $155 million for the Momentous Institute. Every dollar of profit goes to the institute’s mission of education and mental health programs for children. It is a leader on the PGA Tour when it comes to charitable donations.
“Byron was so elated to know what he did to help all these children and their families.”
This year, first responders and their families will be given free admission for the entire tournament and Peggy thinks the return to Dallas presents even more opportunities to give back.
“I know all the city leaders are crazy about it because it is part of a wide-ranging plan to develop this part of the city.”