BYRON NELSON OVER
and golf historian,
related this story to
me not too long ago.
golf fans know
that Byron Nelson
spent four years
in Toledo as the
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
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,
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