61-Year-Old Don Byers Recruited to Join Bellevue University Golf Team

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2018

Phil Mickelson's golf bag is shown at the first tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Bellevue University in Nebraska recruited 61-year-old Don Byers for its golf team, according to ESPN.com's Jason Sobel. He's since enrolled at the school and will begin competing this spring.

"People said there's no way I can do it," he said. "When you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to try like hell to do it."

According to Sobel, Byers' recruitment began during the Champions Run last fall, when he was paired with Bellevue head coach Rob Brown. Byers was playing a few strokes below par, and Brown joked, "Man, I wish you had some eligibility left."

The men laughed, but a few holes later Byers revealed he did have eligibility left. He had attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha over 40 years ago on a baseball scholarship, but he left school after an arm injury ended his career. Brown remained in touch in the coming weeks.

"He kept bugging me," Byers told Sobel. "As I later found out, he was recruiting me."

Byers is eligible to play because Bellevue is an NAIA school, not an NCAA institution, and thereby has different eligibility rules. As Alex Myers of GolfDigest.com noted, "Under NCAA rules, once someone enrolls as a full-time student, they only have five years to complete their four years of playing eligibility"

Byers wasn't brought aboard to be a good story or earn the team some publicity, however. He's there to help it win.

"He hits it a long way, and he's athletic," Brown said, per Sobel. "If he can handle our cross-fit training, he'll be fine."

"To be honest, I just see him the same as my other teammates," Fernando Arzate, Bellevue's top player, added. "He's 61, but it doesn't matter. My teammates and I have talked about it, and we're going to treat him equally. He's a good golfer, but more importantly a really good person."

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