13. Byron Nelson (1912-2006)

Welcome back to the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog for our first post of the new year! Feel free, of course, to like and share this entry (or previous entries) with your friends. Comments and topic suggestions are welcome, too; I still have a backlog of potential subjects but am always glad to add others to the list.

Today’s blog post centers on one of the greatest professional golfers of all time, Byron Nelson (1912-2006). Though Nelson retired from competitive play in 1946 at the relatively young age of 34, his short career still ranks among the best all-time, and he is best known for setting the streak for consecutive tournament victories at 11. (1) For comparison, Tiger Woods’s best streak, the second-longest of all time, was a mere seven consecutive wins stretching from 2006-2007. (2)

Given that I’m writing about him on “Church of Christ Celebrities,” you’ve probably already guessed that Nelson appears frequently on lists of supposed, err, Church of Christ celebrities. So, is there anything to the rumor? Or is it a mere case of wishful thinking?

Byron_Nelson_by_Acme,_1944

 

As it so happens, there is quite a bit of evidence for us to sift through. A 2012 article from the Golf Channel website mentions that Nelson’s memorial service was held at Hills Church (formerly Richland Hills Church of Christ) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (3) Additionally, a 2006 blog post from a Pepperdine University administrator quotes an article from PGA.com (no longer available, unfortunately) in which the author lists Nelson and singer Pat Boone as the two most famous members of Churches of Christ. (4)

Our most important source, however, comes from an edited volume on Foy E. Wallace, Jr., a notable preacher in Churches of Christ during the twentieth century. Included in that volume is an article by Terry J. Gardner on “The Greatest Record in Sports,” which ostensibly focuses on Nelson’s win streak. Gardner adds, however, that “As great as Byron Nelson’s achievements are in sport, it is his life of service for others for which he will be best remembered.” He goes on to mention that “Nelson and his family were for many years members of the Walnut Street Church in Roanoke, Texas” and that “As of this writing, Byron Nelson is a Christian gentleman and a member of the Hilltop Church of Christ in Roanoke.” (5)

Another key detail from the aforementioned Golf Channel article is that “Byron helped organize the Church of Christ in Roanoke…its original occupancy in the garage of congregants.” (6) Based on all of the above, then, I think we can safely say that Byron Nelson, in addition to being a prominent golfer, was also a member of Churches of Christ during his lifetime. As such, today’s entry is CONFIRMED.

Check back in a couple of weeks’ time for our next entry!

NOTES

(1) Jim Gorant, “Byron Nelson’s Streak: A record that may never be broken,” Golf, March 18, 2009, accessed December 25, 2017, http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/byron-nelsons-streak-record-may-never-be-broken .

(2) “Woods picks up seventh consecutive PGA Tour win,” ESPN, January 30, 2007, accessed December 25, 2017, http://www.espn.com/golf/news/story?id=2746527 .

(3) Jason Sobel, “1912: A Year That Changed The Game – Byron Nelson,” Golf Channel, March 13, 2012, accessed December 25, 2017, http://www.golfchannel.com/article/jason-sobel/1912-year-changed-game-byron-nelson/ .

(4) The blog post, which quotes a sizable portion of the original article, can be found at the following location: “Byron Nelson,” PreacherMike, September 28, 2006, accessed December 25, 2017, http://preachermike.com/2006/09/28/byron-nelson .

(5) Terry J. Gardner, “The Greatest Record in Sports,” in Noble Patterson and Terry J. Gardner, eds., Foy E. Wallace, Jr.: Soldier of the Cross (Fort Worth, TX: Wallace Memorial Fund, 1999), 223.

(6) Sobel, “1912,” http://www.golfchannel.com/article/jason-sobel/1912-year-changed-game-byron-nelson/ .

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