Perry Maxwell

Full Name
Perry Duke Maxwell
Year of Birth
1879
Year of Death
1952, aged 73
Place Born
Princetown, Kentucky, USA
Place Died
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Writing in The Architects of Golf, the authors commented as follows: “Maxwell was best known for his wildly undulating greens, and his reputation was of such stature that he was hired to rebuild greens at Augusta National, Pine Valley, the National Golf Links and others.”

Born in Kentucky, the son of Dr. James A. Maxwell and Caroline Harris, Perry Maxwell was educated at the University of Kentucky and Stetson University in Florida but poor health prevented him from finishing his studies. He moved to Oklahoma where he met his wife Ray Woods then settled into a banking job as a cashier, eventually rising through the ranks to become vice president of the Ardmore National Bank.

It’s said his interest in golf was sparked by reading H. J. Whigham’s book, How to Play Golf, which was published the year after he won the US Amateur in 1896. The Scotsman’s father was a friend of C. B. Macdonald from their student days at the University of St Andrews and Whigham would go on to marry Macdonald’s daughter, Frances.

Encouraged by his wife, Maxwell laid out a short course in 1913 on their dairy farm (it would eventually become part of Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club) which was later said to be the first in the state to boast grass greens – up until then, all putting surfaces were flat, circular-shaped affairs comprised of oiled sand that was scraped and rolled.

Soon after his wife’s death from appendicitis in 1919, Maxwell retired and travelled to Scotland to learn as much as possible about using natural landforms when designing golf courses. On his return to the United States, he got down to work right away, setting out a dozen courses in Oklahoma within the five year period leading up to 1926.

Chris Clouser, author of The Midwest Associate has this to say about the architect’s decade-long alliance with Alister MacKenzie, which started in the mid-1920s: “Maxwell is misunderstood by many people. For example, he wasn’t MacKenzie..

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Featured courses designed, remodelled and added to by Perry Maxwell

Colonial

4th Texas - Best in Area

"It is often said that Ben Hogan’s success was partly due to the fact that, having played his early golf at Colonial Country Club, every other course in the world was easy in comparison."

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Crystal Downs

1st Michigan - Best in Area 11th USA Ranking 11th North America Ranking 19th World Ranking

Crystal Downs Country Club is set delightfully on a headland that is wedged between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake in America’s Midwest. The course was designed by Alister MacKenzie and supervised by Perry Maxwell.

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Dornick Hills

14th Oklahoma - Best in Area

Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club was where Perry Maxwell built his first course in 1914. Poignantly, when the respected architect died, he was buried in the family plot close to the 7th hole.

Gulph Mills

17th Pennsylvania - Best in Area

Founded in 1916, Gulph Mills Golf Club had an 18-hole layout in play three years later, once Donald Ross had built the course for the membership. Unusually, the modern day course retains a short set of par five holes.

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Hardscrabble

15th Arkansas - Best in Area

Renovated by Jay and Carter Morrish in the late 1990s, the course at Hardscrabble Country Club dates back to the 1920s when Perry Maxwell first pegged out the fairways. The club hosted the 1979 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

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Hillcrest Country Club - Oklahoma

16th Oklahoma - Best in Area

A Golden Age design from Perry Maxwell in the late 1920s, Floyd Farley in 1960 and Arnold Palmer in the mid-1980s modified the course at Hillcrest Country Club, but it still retains much of its original charm.

Hope Valley

27th North Carolina - Best in Area

Donald Ross laid out the course for Hope Valley Country Club back in 1926. Byron Nelson won the fourth of his eleven straight PGA Tour wins here in 1945 but it’s much altered since then, most recently by Brian Silva.

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Jimmie Austin

13th Oklahoma - Best in Area

Host to both the male and female US Public Links Championships (in 2009 and 2013, respectively), Bob Cupp redesigned Perry Maxwell's course at the Jimmie Austin Golf Club at the University of Oklahoma in 1996 and Tripp Davis completed a renovation in 2017.

Ohio State University (Scarlet)

20th Ohio - Best in Area

Alister MacKenzie drew up the plans for the golf complex at Ohio State University in the early 1930s but the doctor died soon afterwards so Perry Maxwell was given the contract.

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Oklahoma City

6th Oklahoma - Best in Area

Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club was the venue for the US Amateur Championship in 1953 and its tree-lined course weaves over a rolling landscape where water comes into play at more than half the holes.

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