To golf fans, Larry Nelson’s quiet, unassuming demeanor belies his burning desire to win. But there is much more more to this three-time major champion.
Nelson grew up in Acworth, Ga., northwest of Atlanta, and had little interest in golf. Instead Nelson, a two-sport star in high school, was focused on baseball and basketball.
A 20-year-old newlywed when he was drafted into the United States Army at the height of the Vietnam War, Nelson trained for 18 months before spending another three months fighting in southeast Asia.
In addition to some of life’s more difficult lessons, while in Vietnam, Nelson also learned about golf for the first time – namely that one could make a living playing it.
“Up to that point I really thought it was a sissy sport,” Nelson said. “But the guy (Ken Hummel) that told me hadn’t shaved for about two weeks and he hadn’t bathed in longer than that and he had an M-16 and I didn’t want to tell him what I thought about golf.”
Nelson did, however, make a mental note that he would try the game when he returned home.