By Jared Fields, Managing Editor
Byron Nelson, golf legend and former member of the ACU Board of Trustees, died Tuesday at his Roanoke home at the age of 94. His funeral is scheduled for Friday in Irving.
As a golfer, Nelson is remembered for his record 11-straight victories and 18 total wins in 1945. The closest a player has come to breaking that record in six in a row.
“The record 11 in a row will not be forgotten, and I haven’t met a player who thinks it will be broken,” Associated Press golf writer and ACU alumnus Doug Ferguson said in an e-mail from the PGA Tour event in England.
Nelson won 52 total tournaments and five majors in his career.
Nelson made 113 consecutive cuts in his career, surpassed only by Tiger Woods. The EDS Byron Nelson Championship in Irving is the only PGA Tour event named after a professional golfer.
Byron Nelson also had a golf endowment he started in 1984. The Byron and Louise Nelson Golf Endowment helps the ACU golf program pay for expenses and scholarships.
Byron Nelson’s brother, Charles, was a music professor at ACU from 1984 to 1998.
Aside from golf, Nelson is known for his caring spirit and gentleness.
“It was his gentle, humble nature that drew so many people to him,” Ferguson said.
Those who knew Byron Nelson remember him as a man who cared about people.
“I first got to know him when I was a player here at ACU,” head golf coach Mike Campbell said. “We were playing a tournament in Dallas, and he took us out to dinner. We sat around and he talked to us all.
“When I got the job in 2003, I remember he called me on my cell phone to congratulate me and said he was happy I was going to be the coach.”
Ferguson said he remembers the first time he met Nelson and the presence he had around people.
“He was watching the Ryder Cup from behind the sixth green at Oak Hill in 1995, and even at 83 years old, he had such a presence about him,” Ferguson said. “But for all he meant in the game, he wasn’t intimidating. He made you feel like you were the most important person at that moment. And that’s the legacy he leaves.”
Wednesday the U.S. Senate approved a bill to posthumously give Nelson the Congressional Gold Medal for what Campbell said has “nothing to do with golfing ability.”