Byron Nelson (1912 – 2006)
Born in Texas, Nelson is remembered as one of the most consistent golfers of all time. Nelson’s is a remarkable story. He grew up close to Ben Hogan and both men caddied at the same golf club. Although Nelson turned professional in 1932, it would be five years before he won his first major, the US Masters.
During the 1940s, he played in 133 tournaments and was in the money list in every one of them. At that time that meant the top 10. He had 11 consecutive wins in 1945 and won the PGA Championship. He was also that year’s leading money earner. According to Ben Crenshaw, “Byron’s 11 straight victories will never be matched.”
The story goes that his wife suggested that he play golf in order to raise money to buy their own ranch rather than touch their savings. Nelson achieved that goal in 1946 and he retired at age 34 to become a farmer in his native Texas.
On the short list of records that may never be broken, Nelson owns two. In 1945, he won 18 of 30 tournaments he played, including 11 in a row, in a torrid season no one has seriously approached since. He averaged 68.33 strokes per round that year, an average that never has been bettered.