Teeing Off with Byron
By Peggy Nelson
Other than my new penchant for prevaricating, the breakfast was delightful, and soon we were on our way to the first tee at NCR Country Club, where the pro, Jeff Steinberg, was waiting for us. I had at least had the good sense to alert him that Byron was coming and to let him know not to noise it about, because I certainly did not want a crowd around for my first drive in front of Byron Nelson and possibly the entire membership, their spouses, and a gaggle of children.
As luck (and the Lord) would have it, I hit a whopper of a drive, for me at least. It sailed high off the elevated tee and far down the hill, tailing off just a touch to the right and a few feet into the rough. Byron looked a little surprised, though my subsequent play lived up to my earlier bad expectations. I remember very little of that round, other than just enjoying being with him and wishing I could play better. But he did not seem to care about my score at all, though he did show me a great little chipping technique I could do with my six-iron when I was close to the green but a ways from the pin. It has come in handy many times since.
About the rest of his stay, I donʼt recall a lot. The Bogey Busters event that year was played at a different course, and naturally I went out to follow my hero. As it happened Byron was paired with none other than Johnny Mathis, the singing legend and a great part of my high school fantasy life from twenty years before. Wow! Here I was with two celebrities, pretty tongue-tied, and just living in a state of suspended animation, wondering to myself, Will I ever recover from this out-of-body experience?
By the time Byron flew back to Texas, we both knew we had the start of a wonderful friendship . . . that was rapidly becoming far more serious. The phone calls and letters came and went more often now, and soon we were talking about marriage, even though this was just July and August, only a couple of months after we had reconnected five years after our first meeting.
Excerpt taken with permission from Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golfʼs Greatest Gentleman by Peggy Nelson (2010) available at: www.byronnelson-golfpro.com
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