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  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Byron Nelson

Many of my friends have heard me tell this story but as it is one of my favorites, I will repeat it on this blog.

In the year 2000, Tiger Woods won six tournaments in a row and the talk of golf was whether he would break the great Byron Nelson’s record of 11 consecutive victories. Tiger’s feat made me think of how much I admired Mr. Nelson. I had read books written by him and books about him. I had listened to him on television. I decided to write him a fan letter. In an attempt to get Mr. Nelson’s address, I searched the internet. I knew he lived in Texas so I typed in “Byron Nelson, Texas”. The search resulted in five or six Byron Nelsons. They all had addresses listed except for one, who lived in Roanoke, Texas, with a phone number listed but not an address. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that Mr. Nelson lived in Roanoke. I decided to call the number in anticipation that a maid or r other employee would answer the phone and I planned to ask for the address so I could send Mr. Nelson a letter of appreciation. I dialed the number and the phone rang.

I was speechless, when Mr. Nelson answered the phone. I stammered “Is this Byron Nelson”? He answered yes.

I asked, “the golfer”? He said, “I used to be”.

Not knowing what else to say, I said “ Hello Mr. Nelson, this is Bud Headman from Utah”. Mr. Nelson said “Hello Bud” and a conversation ensued.

We talked for about 15 minutes. He asked me what my handicap was and I told him 12. He said it was hard to be a 12. I said it certainly was. We talked about a British Open in the late 1940’s. We talked about a Ryder Cup in the 1950’s. He told me that he had played in Utah in late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I told him how much I respected and admired him for how he led his life. To me he was a great golfer but seemed to be a greater person.

I thanked him for talking to me and apologized for bothering him. I told him I would had never called if I had thought he would be the person answering the phone. He told me it was no bother and he had enjoyed the conversation.

I asked if it would be ok for me to send him a thank you letter. He said that would be nice and he gave me his address. I wrote him a short letter thanking him for his time. My letter asked for nothing from him.

Two weeks letter I went to my mailbox to get the day’s mail. There was a large mailing envelop in the box that had no return address. I took it in the house to open it. To my surprise and pleasure was an 8 x 10 glossy photo of Mr. Nelson inscribed “To Bud, from Byron Nelson”.

This photo, now framed , is one of the treasures of my life.

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