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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