A Christian Gentleman

Written by Drew on October 2nd, 2006

Byron Nelson passed away last week at the age of 94. Although he had not played the game professionally in 60 years, he is remembered as a golf legend. His most astounding feat was winning 18 tours in the 1945 season, setting a record that has yet to be broken. Not only that, but during that same year, “Lord Byron,” as he was called, won 11 of these victories in a row. The closest anybody’s ever come to that a streak like that is six.

Nelson retired in 1946 at the peak of his career. He had earned five major championships among his 52 tour victories, which rank him sixth in PGA Tour history. Truly, he was a golf legend.

I was not aware until after he died that “Lord Byron” was also “Brother Byron” to me. As far as I can tell, he was a faithful member of the Lord’s church. I should have known. The descriptions that were given about him in press releases paint the picture of a Christian gentleman.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said, “Our players, young and old, looked to Byron as the consummate role model of our sport.”

In 1968, Nelson gave his name to the struggling Dallas Open. Since then, the tournament has raised more than $94 million for the Salesmanship Club’s Youth and Family Centers – nearly 10 percent of the PGA Tour’s combined charity donations. Salesmanship Club of Dallas president Lawrence M. Wesson said, “He was an amazing man and an example for all of us. Because of Byron’s association with our club, we have been able to help thousands of children and families.”

“For many, Byron will be remembered for his incredible record as a professional golfer, including winning 11 tournaments in a row,” said eight-time major champion Tom Watson, Mr. Nelson’s longtime friend and protégé. “But he will be most remembered for the genuineness and gentleness he brought to all those around him.

In an interview with The Christian Chronicle at his home last year, Nelson discussed his commitment to attending services every Sunday and Wednesday night, using a scooter to maneuver his way through the crowd. “I wouldn’t know what to do without being at church. The good Lord blesses me every day.”

During Nelson’s memorial service, family and friends gathered to pay their respects. “We can debate which man was the greatest golfer,” said Rick Atchley, minister at Richland Hills Church of Christ. “But there’s no debate as to which golfer was the greatest man.” Ken Venturi, whom Mr. Nelson mentored, also took to the rostrum, his voice quivering as he spoke, saying, “The game of golf would not be what it is today without Byron – the greatest gentleman there ever was.”

No, Byron Nelson did not walk around boasting about his religion, making sure everybody knew where he attended church. He let people know his spirituality in a different way–by manifesting the spirit of Christ.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. ICURIS says:

    Good job! I never knew he was a brother in Christ! just to let you know, i’ve been inspired by your blog (and others) to begin one myself. thanks for the motivation!

  2. Jason J. says:

    Great post Drew. Where did you come up with that great idea? You actually know more about him now than I did. Thanks for your research – he was definitely a gentleman!

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