Previous Page  8 / 42 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 42 Next Page
Page Background






Long-time Toledo

Blade sportswriter

and golf historian,

Dave Hackenberg

related this story to

me not too long ago.

Most Toledo-area

golf fans know

that Byron Nelson

spent four years

in Toledo as the

Head Professional

at Inverness Club.

What many do not know is that Nelson was

chosen over Ben Hogan for the job.

In the early days of professional golf, most

touring professionals maintained a full-time

club professional job to supplement their

income. Even though Byron Nelson was one

of the leading players on tour in 1940, he

still needed a steady club professional job to

provide additional income.

Nelson had already won the 1937 Masters

and he, along with, Sam Snead and Ben

Hogan were the cream of the tour at that time,

although Hogan had yet to win a major.

Just two weeks after Nelson signed a contract

to become the Head Professional at Inverness

in June, 1939, he won his second major title

at the U.S. Open in a playoff with Ohio’s

Denny Shute and Craig Wood at Philadelphia

Country Club.

Nelson would go to win the 1940 PGA

Championship and the 1942 Masters, while

employed at Inverness. After he left Inverness

in 1945, he authored one of the greatest

seasons in golf history, when he won 18

titles, 11 consecutively, plus a second PGA


In addition to being one of the brightest stars

on the PGA Tour at the time, Nelson was also

its consummate gentlemen and was as well

known for his pleasant demeanor off the golf

course as for his superb ability on it.

On the other hand, Hogan was still a rising

star in 1939. His shyness and short answers

to sports writers came off as being aloof and

unapproachable, which did not play well with

the scribes. Negative articles or unfavorable

quotes littered the leading papers of the day and

Hogan was not portrayed as a likeable figure.

Hogan’s immense talent and work ethic were

appreciated, but he only had one tour win in

1938. Though he added four more in 1939,

he was known more, at the time, for the

ability to lose tournaments on the final day,

NWO Golf Links