The HP Byron Nelson Championship is played May 21 through May 24 at the Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas. The tournament is affectionately called “The Byron”, and it’s put on by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. This is the first in a series of preview articles leading up to the tournament.
The numbers speak for themselves, but no matter how impressive Byron Nelson’s records are it’s the quality of the man people talk about first. He set records as a golfer that may never be touched, and it’s only appropriate that the tournament that bears his name continues to set records every year, even after his death.
BEFORE THE TOUR
John Byron Nelson, Jr. was born near Waxahachie, TX on February 4, 1912. Throughout his career on the course and his life afterward he’s intrinsically linked to fellow PGA Tour greats Sam Snead and fellow Texan Ben Hogan, as the three of them were born within 6 months of each other.
When Byron was 11 his family moved to Fort Worth, and he proceeded to have a close call with typhoid fever. At age 12 he was baptized, and it also marked the beginning of his life in golf, as he started caddying at the Glen Garden Country Club. The fact that caddies were not officially allowed to play on the club didn’t hold Byron back, as he used to sneak onto the course to play in the dark. A couple of years later the rules were relaxed a bit, and Byron defeated fellow caddy Ben Hogan in a 9-hole playoff to win the club’s caddy tournament.
TPC Sawgrass island green – click for more images
I’ve been saving this one, my review of TPC Sawgrass, until the right time. Obviously the week of THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP is a great time to post it. This piece could shape up to be the longest one I’ve ever written and for good reason. There’s a lot to tell.
I was at the PGA Show Friday doing my thing, interviewing people and checking out all the gear. I was talking to Fuzzy Zoeller when my phone rang. Obviously when you are talking to Fuzzy Zoeller, whoever is calling can go to voicemail. When I checked the message it was my buddy Eddie from Black Mesa in New Mexico. His message, “Hey Tony we’re here at the show. Come over and visit us at the food court. We’re playing TPC Sawgrass tomorrow and we have an open spot. Did you bring your clubs?”
I had goose bumps. One second I was planning on a busy Saturday at the show, complete with interviews of Ian Poulter and Erica Blasberg. The next second I knew I was going to be blowing off Ian and Erica and playing one of those “must play” courses of a lifetime.
The Players Championship
Thursday 5/7 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET GOLF
Thursday 5/7 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM ET GOLF
Friday 5/8 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET GOLF
Friday 5/8 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM ET GOLF
Saturday 5/9 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET NBC
Sunday 5/10 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET NBC
Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill
Friday 5/8 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET ESPN2
Saturday 5/9 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET ESPN2
Sunday 5/10 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET ESPN2
BMW Italian Open
Thursday 5/7 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM ET GOLF
Friday 5/8 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM ET GOLF
Saturday 5/9 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
Sunday 5/10 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
UPDATE: At the request of the copyright holders I’ve removed the images of the yardage book…
While you are watching THE PLAYERS this week you may want to look at a particular hole and get some info. I’ve scanned the ENTIRE TPC Sawgrass yardage book for that reason! Inside you’ll find all the holes, the course routing, yardages, suggested play and even a diagram of the practice range! Check it out here or by clicking the images below.
Thanks to my buddy John for giving me a good TPC trivia nugget today.
The TPC Sawgrass Stadium course hosts about 40,000 rounds of golf per year. They fish 120,000 golf balls out of the water on the #17th par-3 island green (3 of which are mine). That is an average of one sleeve per player on that hole.
Players are asked to proceed to the drop box after two balls go in the drink but like me, people seldom follow that suggestion. When I teed up the 3rd ball, my caddy started walking.