Letter From Byron Nelson

October 20, 2004

Dear Dick,

Here are some of my memories of your father and your uncle. And, I hope they’ll be helpful to you as you work on that book. It will be a good one, I’m sure.

When Dick Grout became the pro at Glen Garden Country Club in Ft. Worth (February 1930), he soon brought in his brother Jack as his assistant. Both of them were good players, of course. But, since this was during the Depression, they didn’t get to give a lot of lessons back then.

I started working for Dick in the shop, where he taught me how to make good hickory-shafted clubs. But, it wasn’t long till steel shafts came in. And, soon everyone had switched over when they found how much easier it was to play with steel.

Meanwhile, I also got to be quite good friends with Jack. And, we played just about every week in one of the local pro-ams. Which, then, consisted of the pro and just one amateur. Prize money wasn’t much, and no handicaps were allowed. But, nevertheless, Jack and I won so consistently that the other pros got together and made a rule that a pro could only play with the same amateur once a month. Naturally, this gave some of the other guys a chance to win the $25 or so that was available then. But, during those years, $25 could be stretched a long way.

Jack had a beautiful, fluid swing. And, he could have been great on the tour. But, he didn’t really care to compete that way. One other fond memory I have is the winter of ’35.  When (traveling to California) Jack rode in the rumble seat of my car with both our sets of golf clubs. While I and my new bride, Louise, were in the front. Well, since we were newly married, Louise wasn’t particularly thrilled with those crowded conditions. So, I had the job of telling Jack that he had to find another ride back to Texas. He took it well, though. And, we were always good friends.

Both of the Grout’s were good teachers. In fact, Jack learned about the swing mostly from his brother Dick. And, then went on to write three excellent instruction books himself. So, I wasn’t surprised when Jack became known for helping Jack Nicklaus so much during his long career.

Jack Grout was a wise and kind man. I have many good memories of him and his brother.

Sincerely,

Byron Nelson

4 thoughts on “Letter From Byron Nelson

  1. Dick, You probably don’t remember me but we used to play in junior tournaments and high school matches together back in the early ’70’s in Miami. I played out of North Dade Country Club and Norland High. I have thoroughly enjoyed your book and hope and pray that your Dad will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame n the very near future. No doubt he is deserving and I applaud you for sharing his story. In fact, if you’re ever visiting the Hall, let me know as I only live a few miles away from it. Blessings to you and your family and thank you for the impact the entire Grout clan has had on this game that so many of us love.

    • Hi Jim,
      Indeed, I remember you and our days together on the golf course. One memory, in particular, is the match we played in 1970 at North Dade CC. Your putter was one of those original Ping putters that actually made a rather distinct “ping” sound. That day you putted very well and thoroughly defeated and deflated my teammate (and good player) Bobby Mitchell. Well, as I remember it, every time we heard that pinging noise your ball would disappear into the cup. I believe that the whole experience just about drove Mitchell crazy!
      I appreciate hearing from you and your kind words for my dear father. I hope our paths will cross again someday. Thanks.

  2. Wow, what a memory you have! I guess that putter was an unintentional instrument to “get in your opponent’s head.” (I wasn’t smart enough to be that intentional.) Seems like it eventually drove me a bit crazy too, and am not sure whatever happened to it. I likewise hope our paths will cross again.

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