A 61-year-old grandfather from Nebraska will be teeing it up this spring under scholarship for Bellevue University. Omaha’s Don Byers became the oldest college athletic scholarship recipient earlier this month when he decided to use his two remaining years of eligibility to play college golf.
— Bellevue University (@BellevueU) December 27, 2017
According to an email from his nephew, Byers was given a spot on the team thanks to an off-handed comment made to the golf coach. This spring, he’ll be teeing it up with golfers young enough to be his grandkids.
The 61-year old is not only enrolled for second semester at Bellevue University, he was recruited to play on the Bruins golf team.
“Nobody believes me, they all laugh,” said Byers in an interview with WOWT 6 News when asked about his friends reaction. “Then when they find out it’s for real they say go on your bucket list, live your dream.”
Byers played high school baseball at Omaha Benson in the mid 70’s and earned a small college scholarship.
“In college as a pitcher I blew out my arm,” explained Byers “That was the end of the scholarship so off I went into the workforce.”
That was about forty years ago and over that time Byers built a successful insurance business.
“So I’ve got a family, a business, and grandkids. It’s a little different than your normal college student.”
“To have a 61 year old is one thing but to have a 61 year old that can really play is fun,” said Bellevue head coach Rob Brown who recruited Byers after a chance round of golf at summer’s end.
Byers carries a one handicap and drives the ball far enough to join the other competitors on the back tees. All but one of his teammates were recruited out of Latin America to play for Bellevue University.
“There are only so many spots on the team,” said Byers. “I’ve told them my hay day was 40 years ago, these kids are trying to get to the next level so I really admire them. I’m not trying to steal their press or anything just having a lot of fun with them and hopefully I can help them out.”
The contrast is stark between the young twenty-somethings and the gray-bearded Byers.
When asked about the fact his teammates all have flat bellies, Byers responded, “I have five of them.”
According to Coach Brown, Bellevue University did some national research and found a college field goal kicker who is a little older than Byers but it’s not clear if the kicker actually participated.
“We’re going to have a time that is very unique,” said Coach Brown. “The other teams going to to wonder what in the world? And that’s going to make it fun.”
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