HP Byron Nelson interview: Peggy NelsonMay 18, 2013
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THE MODERATOR: We'll get started. It's an honor to have Mrs.Peggy Nelson here with us' HP Byron Nelson Championship. These are tough circumstances to have you come in with the passing of Ken Venturi, who was a close friend of your husband's and also of you. Can you talk about that.
PEGGY NELSON: Ken was a dear, dear friend of Byron's for so many years, and he was so kind to me as well. He appreciated the relationship that Byron and I had, and I was fortunate to get to meet Bo, his lovely wife of 25 years and I've spoken a number of times to Kathleen, in fact, I had just spoken to Kathleen a couple of weeks ago while Ken was in the hospital and everything was looking positive at that point, so this is kind of unexpected sad news, but to have known Kenny for all these years and to see Byron's face light up whenever he thought of him, when Ken would call as he did so often, and he called to visit with me after Byron was gone and would call several times a year, see how I was doing.
It was a precious, precious friendship. I think if Byron could have he would have adopted Kenny. He was a great guy and he enjoyed Kenny's values, so strong, and wanting to help people as much as he could, because he knew he was a blessed man in the game of golf and that he was blessed to have so many friends like Byron and Mr.Hogan and being close to both of them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the audience?
PEGGY NELSON: I may have told them everything. I was taught by the best, you know! (Laughter.)
Q. I think people don't know that Byron was a TV analyst. Do you think they spent time talking about that part of the craft or was it mostly about golf?
PEGGY NELSON: I don't remember them actually talking when I was around about the TV part of it.
I'm sure that Kenny learned a lot just from watching Byron and of course the whole craft had changed quite a bit by the time Kenny came on board to broadcast. Some of the old films of Byron and Chris Schenkel with Byron with this stick and pointing at the map, which was hilarious, but at the time that was the technology.
I'm sure one of the things that Kenny would have learned from Byron was how Byron was so kind and understanding and compassionate to the golfers. He was not critical of them and he wouldn't make any negative comments even if they missed a shot or hit one‑‑ obviously they don't intentionally hit bad shots, do they? I do, sometimes, but, yeah, Byron was always very kind and understanding and knew that these guys were trying their hardest out there all the time.
I'm sure that would have been something that Ken could have learned very well from Byron, if he didn't already know it, which that was his nature anyway.
Q. Their relationship was more though not about golf, wasn't it? Can you talk about how the friendship evolved?
PEGGY NELSON: Of course the friendship started, as you already know, I think, from Byron's book and Kenny's book and talking about Byron that they started when Kenny was just a kid and Byron was on the TOUR at the time and playing, and I guess Kenny had a camera and he was getting under the ropes and trying to get a picture of Byron, and Byron said, "Kid, could you get behind the ropes?" And of course Kenny goes home and he says, "I met the greatest man today, and he spoke to me." And his mom said, "Well, what did he say?" and he said, "Get out of the way, please." (Laughter).
But I'm sure they didn't see each other for years after that until Kenny became the top amateur in the SanFrancisco, California, area and with Harvey Ward and of course there was that great match that Byron and Ben played against Kenny and Harvey.
Q. Peggy, did they talk about that match together a lot?
PEGGY NELSON: Yeah, they would when they would get together sometimes and talk about some of the different shots that each one of them hit, all four of them. It was an amazing day. It was just so astonishing how it all happened and Mark Frost did such a good job on the book about the match. One of those things that very few people knew about other than the people that were actually there that day, and people kept saying, "We keep hearing about this thing 'The Match' what was that?" A lot of the information came out then and it was an exciting day for all of them.
Q. CBS has telecast the Nelson for many years. Would it be standard for Ken Venturi to come out to the ranch during the tournament?
PEGGY NELSON: He did come out sometimes but I think he would come out more during Colonial when Byron wasn't busy here so much, and they had Byron come up to the tower sometimes from time to time when he still could. In fact, two of the red pants guys made sure Byron was actually able to get up to that tower, which was quite a challenge. He did it, though.
THE MODERATOR: Mrs.Nelson, we appreciate your time.
PEGGY NELSON: You bet.