61-year-old grandfather recruited to play on college golf team
Don Byers, 61 years old, will play collegiate golf this spring for Bellevue University in Nebraska, alongside teammates more than 40 years his junior.
ESPN.com senior writer Jason Sobel filed a story on Tuesday, detailing how Byers' spot on the Bellevue golf team came to be.
Like so many innovative ideas, this one was induced by innocent banter.
As their foursome made the turn last autumn at Champions Run, a former Web.com Tour venue in Omaha, Nebraska, Byers was a few strokes under par, thanks to an early eagle and his usual steady play. That's when Rob Brown, coach of the golf team at nearby Bellevue and one of his playing partners that day, turned to him and quipped, "Man, I wish you had some eligibility left."
The two men laughed at the one-liner, hardly taking it at face value.
A few holes later, the idea was broached again. "You know," Byers told Brown, "I do still have eligibility."
Sobel explained that four decades ago, Byers -- now a grandfather -- attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha on a baseball scholarship, but lost the free ride before ever playing after blowing out his arm.
Byers entered the workforce and rarely broke 120 when he got out on the golf course.
Over the years, Byers started his own insurance agency and his golf game got so good that in the last year he became a scratch player.
More from Sobel:
Bellevue has more than 12,000 students, but nearly 90 percent are enrolled only in online classes. Of course, Byers couldn't simply join the team without also joining the student body. Despite having owned no aspirations of becoming a student again, his spring semester will be filled with courses in English, communications and history.
"My academic adviser is younger than my kids," says Byers, who has three grown children and is a grandfather. "He said I ought to take recent history because I lived it."
Bellevue's first match will be in Las Vegas this March.