Bob Byman accomplished more in golf as a teenager than many elite amateurs achieve in their lifetimes.
Byman only lived in Colorado for five years, but the early 1970s mark one of the most dominant stretches by any amateur in state history. And at the time, Byman was just 16-18 years old. In 1971, ’72 and ’73, Byman won the Colorado Golf Association’s State Stroke Play title. To this day, only he and Hale Irwin have won the prestigious event three straight years.
But that was just the beginning for Byman, who was a regular at Flatirons Golf Course. In 1972, in addition to claiming the Stroke Play title, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur as a 17-year-old, defeating Scott Simpson in the final. He also qualified for the U.S. Open, becoming the youngest player in that year’s field at Pebble Beach. To the best of Byman’s recollection, he won all but two or three of the roughly 15 tournaments he played in 1972.
“1972 was incredible year for me; I played some of the best golf of my life,” he said. “I don’t know if the game can ever get any simpler than it was in 1972. I always tried to get back to that simplicity I had as a kid.”
But Byman wasn’t done with his Colorado accomplishments. In 1973, in addition to winning the State Stroke Play, he claimed the Colorado high school title and led Fairview to the team championship.
After leaving Colorado in 1973, Byman played collegiately for Wake Forest, helping the Demon Deacons win NCAA titles in both 1974 and ’75. Roughly a quarter-century later, that mid-1970 Wake Forest squad, which also included Curtis Strange and Jay Haas, was proclaimed “the best college (golf) team ever” by Golf World magazine. At Wake Forest, Byman was a three-time All-American (second team twice and third team once).
As a touring professional, Byman had some success both in the U.S. and overseas. His biggest win came in 1979 at the Bay Hill Citrus Classic on the PGA Tour. He also claimed titles in five national opens internationally.
Since 1987, Byman has focused primarily on golf instruction.