The latest issue of PGA Partners has a column by Tom Lehman in which he reminisces about the late, great Byron Nelson. Lehman confirms what most golf fans already knew about Lord Byron: that as great a player as he was, he was a greater human being.
And then Lehman drops a historical bombshell (ok, perhaps it was only a grenade). Once, in a conversation with Lehman, Nelson let it slip that he had actually won 12 in a row in the summer of 1945, not 11. The twelfth, however, was not counted at the time because it was for a purse of less than the $500 minimum.
Nelson, always a modest man, apparently never mentioned it to anyone else.
The fact that in all of the dozens of articles I read on Nelson after his passing, this was not mentioned even once makes me wonder about golf’s historical record keeping. Such a thing would not have gone unnoticed by baseball historians, who pore over old newspapers divining information about even the most obscure of games and players.
Golf apparently doesn’t inspire such meticulous review. The PGA, or the Tour, with all of their millions, should commission a team of researchers to do just what baseball historians have been doing: trying to uncover every stat about every professional and major match ever played. (And if they already have such people then they aren’t doing such a good job if the story on the twelfth win didn’t come up when Nelson died).
And here’s another item for thought: $500 in 1945 translates to about $5600 in today’s currency. And folks, that was the purse, not the first place take.