As a Dallas resident it’s with sadness that I observe the steady decline in top level talent who chose to come to play in The Byron Nelson Invitational. There was a time when Dallas, and Texas in general, was the golf capital of America with players like Hogan, Nelson, Trevino, and many many others.
The decline has become even more severe in the years since Lord Byron passed away in 2006. The decline is a testament to the respect current golfers had for him, and how crucial his influence was for the tournament even towards the very end of his life. I’ve read many stories about him trolling the driving range at tournaments leading up to The Byron, talking to players and encouraging them to come to Dallas.
(Photo by Associated Press)
Now, the Dallas Salesmanship Club still puts on a fantastic tournament every year. The TPC Las Colinas course is in good shape, the Four Seasons facilities are outstanding, the crowds come out in droves, and the tournament consistently raise more funds for charity than any other event.
So, the history is there, and the logistical foundation is in place, but the tournament just seems to need an identity. This is where Tom Watson would come in.
The professional and personal relationship between Byron Nelson and Tom Watson is well documented. While both Arnie and Jack have “their” tournament on tour, Tom Watson so far has not claimed one as his own. The Byron would be the natural one for him to host, and he would be a perfect for it. Few players are more liked and respected in the game of golf than Tom Watson, and few would be better able to tug at the heartstrings of today’s professionals than Tom.
Yet, somehow Tom Watson has gotten more closely associated with The Greenbriar tournament than with The Byron. That’s where he filmed his instructional video, he’s their Golf Professional Emeritus, and he hosts a 36 hole pro-am there in the fall.
Maybe The Byron reached out to Tom and he turned them down. I would like to think that’s the case. Tom does have a long history with The Greenbriar resort.
But if they didn’t do everything in their power to get Tom’s participation in The Byron then they just plain out blew it.
Keep’em in the short stuff.