Skipping The Nelson

Ron Sirak vents a bit about the number of no-shows at the Byron Nelson in the year they will be honoring the great man.

I'm finally glad someone made this point, though I think Sirak could have been even more blunt:

Why the are players staying away?

The easy answer is the scheduling-conflict excuse. But the irony there is that in an era when all of the top players travel by private jet they are finding it more difficult to get to tournaments than the guys back in the days when Byron and the boys drove four to a car from tournament to tournament.

Irony, hypocrisy, it's a fine line! 

The more complicated answer -- and probably the correct one -- is that very few of today's millionaires appreciate the fact that it was guys like Nelson who struggled to make ends meet that made today's PGA Tour possible.

There is a sense of entitlement among contemporary players that is totally out of proportion with both their achievement and their sacrifice. That sense of entitlement tends to view the world through me-colored lenses. Just as last year the one PGA Tour event all players should have been tripping over each to enter was in New Orleans, the one must-make tournament this year should have been the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. And it had nothing to do with prize money or scheduling. It had everything to do with what was right.

There will be a golf tournament this week at Las Colinas and Cottonwood Valley. There will be a party at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. And there will be tributes to the life and career of Byron Nelson at the tournament that bears his name. And knowing the first-class way the Salesmanship Club does things, it will be a celebration that will not only be worth remembering, it will be so compelling there will be no choice but to remember it.

One of the things that keeps the LPGA an organization that respects its past is that it has help remembering that past because a half-dozen of its founders are still alive to remind the young players that it was not always as nice and easy as it now is. The PGA Tour, being about 20 years older than the LPGA, has lost most of its direct connection to its roots. In Byron Nelson, it lost one of the most important.

Nelson was not the kind of guy who would grab a player and say, "Hey, don't ever lose appreciation for what you have." Or, "Don't ever forget that the game made you, you didn't make the game." Byron didn't have to use words like that. His actions said it much more eloquently. It seems, however, that not all the players were listening.