Related Biography: Golfer Byron Nelson
Byron Nelson got his start in golf the same way that Ben Hogan did, working as a caddy at the Glen Garden Country Club. Nelson, born John Byron Nelson on February 4, 1912, was notable among the caddies for lacking their usual vices, most notably smoking, swearing, and fighting, and for his unusual level of skill at golf. Nelson just barely edged out Hogan in Glen Garden's caddy tournament in December of 1927. The next year, when the boys became too old to caddy, Nelson was honored with a junior membership in the club. This gave Nelson a competitive advantage over Hogan, since Nelson could enter the many members-only tournaments in which Hogan, who was relegated to public courses, could not compete.
After high school, Nelson originally took a job clerking for a railroad company, but when he was laid off because of the Depression he turned professional and tried to make a living at golf instead. For the next thirteen years, Nelson consistently out-golfed Hogan, although the two became close friends. Nelson's wife Louise and Valerie Hogan got along very well, often sitting together in the clubhouse while their husbands competed, and the Nelsons and the Hogans often caravanned together when touring.
Nelson took third in the first professional tournament he entered, in 1932, and was winning tournaments by 1935. His most spectacular season was 1945, when many but by no means all of the other top-level golfers were unable to compete because of the war. (Nelson, who had mild hemophilia, was considered medically unfit to serve.) That year Nelson won eleven straight PGA tour events, as well as seven others for a season total of eighteen. Both figures are records that still stand, as is Nelson's record of finishing in the money in 113 consecutive tournaments.
In 1946 Nelson retired from touring full-time and settled down back in Texas on the Fairway Ranch, which he bought with his winnings from the 1945 season and where he still makes his home.