Golf

William Jessup golf team visits Byron Nelson’s house

The William Jessup golf team poses in front of the Byron Nelson statue at TPC Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. From left to right, Dale Thomas, Johnnie Greco, Clark Pietromonaco, Arick Koeth, Dylan Neal, Jonathan Goswitz and coach Tim Hovancsek.
The William Jessup golf team poses in front of the Byron Nelson statue at TPC Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. From left to right, Dale Thomas, Johnnie Greco, Clark Pietromonaco, Arick Koeth, Dylan Neal, Jonathan Goswitz and coach Tim Hovancsek. William Jessup University

The college experience.

William Jessup men’s golf coach Tim Hovancsek believes in it.

Whether it’s taking his players to see how Titleist grinds its wedges or Ping produces its putters, it’s about more than books and birdies at the Christian liberal arts university in Rocklin.

But dinner at Byron Nelson’s house? That’s not on any syllabus.

We’re trying to give them as much experience as we can during their college career. It’s more than just a college education and playing golf.

William Jessup golf coach Tim Hovancsek

“I won’t forget it and the kids won’t forget it, either,” Hovancsek said.

In Texas for a tournament two weeks ago, the Jessup team and its coach were dinner guests of Peggy Nelson, the widow of one of golf’s all-time greats. Peggy and Byron were married for 19 years before his death in 2006.

The two-hour-plus stay included eating fried chicken off gold-plated Masters dishware, a tour of the trophies and memorabilia Byron Nelson amassed during his brief but brilliant career that included 52 PGA Tour wins (11 in a row in 1945 and five major titles), and a guided trip down memory lane.

It was just the eight of them.

“She was just telling us story after story,” Hovancsek said. “She is very proud of Byron, that’s for sure. She also wanted to know about the kids, who each told her a little bit about themselves.”

The invitation’s impetus was a chance meeting two years ago at the same college tournament at TPC Las Colinas near Dallas, also the site of the PGA Tour’s annual AT&T Byron Nelson Classic. Hovancsek was coming off the course in the rain when a group of ladies asked if he would take their picture in front of Byron Nelson’s statue.

Peggy Nelson, one of the women, introduced herself. Hovancsek asked for a picture of his own, and a relationship was created. The two share an Ohio upbringing, spiritual values and a love of golf history and helping young people.

Nelson not only welcomed Dale Thomas, Clark Pietromonaco, Arick Koeth, Johnnie Greco, Jonathan Goswitz and Dylan Neal into her ranch-style home on Eleven Victory Lane, she picked up the tab for an extra practice round at Las Colinas. She also arranged for dinner from Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, a Texas tradition.

She was just telling us story after story. She is very proud of Byron, that’s for sure. She also wanted to know about the kids, who each told her a little bit about themselves.

William Jessup golf coach Tim Hovancsek, on the team’s dinner with Peggy Nelson, Byron Nelson’s widow

The Warriors are in Primm, Nev., for a tournament this week.

“We’re trying to give them as much experience as we can during their college career,” Hovancsek said. “It’s more than just a college education and playing golf.”

Et cetera

▪ Kyle Davies and James Feutz have advanced to the championship match of the Sacramento Valley Match Play at Diamond Oaks.

▪ The Sacramento City Four-ball at Bing Maloney is down to 16 two-man teams. Thomas Steinhoff and Derick Strain needed only 12 holes to win their opening match. Chris Johnson and Devyn Fitchhorn (6 and 5) and Tommy Semereaux and Ryan Wilson (6 and 4) were also lopsided winners.

Aerification update

Done this week, as scheduled: Antelope Greens, Empire Ranch, Lincoln Hills (Hills), Whitney Oaks.

Postponed with new date: Timber Creek (March 28-30).

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526.

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