As the Masters begins, we like to reminisce on the success of our own namesake, Byron Nelson, and his legendary success at the storied championship. Mr. Nelson won both the 1937 and 1942 Masters—a significant time for the new and developing tournament. Needless to say, there’s a reason the Nelson Bridge exists at Augusta National Golf Club.
Mr. Nelson claimed the 1937 title after a remarkable charge through Amen Corner in the final round. Trailing Ralph Guldahl, he miraculously made up six strokes at holes 12 and 13 with a birdie and eagle en route to his first major victory.
“1937 meant so much to him because it was his first major,” Peggy Nelson said. “That’s when he proved to himself he could win against anybody. Out of every tournament he ever won, the 1937 Masters was his most important.”
In 1942 Mr. Nelson made history yet again after a compelling 18-hole playoff against Ben Hogan. Byron and Ben shared a unique history: both born in small, Texas towns, both caddied at the same country club and they were occasionally roommates on tour. Those similarities made their duel intriguing to all.
“This was probably one of the most unusual playoffs in golf,” recalled Mr. Nelson, “in that at least 25 of the pros who had played in the tournament stayed to watch us in the playoff. I don’t recall that ever happening any other time.”
Byron and Ben teed off in one of the greatest matches of the era. Byron powered through Amen Corner with birdies on 11, 12 and 13. However, Byron’s real victory was found during holes 6 through 13 where he played eight holes in six under par. Byron defeated Hogan by one stroke and gained his second Masters title—only the second person at that time to accomplish such a feat.
Mr. Nelson went on to continue his successful career after his wins at the Masters. In 1945, he had his record-breaking season of winning 11 consecutive tournaments. In 1958, the Nelson Bridge was dedicated to Byron at No. 13 tee to serve as a reminder of Byron’s accomplishments at the tournament and marked his place in golf history forever.