Billy Maxwell, a Texas golf legend, PGA Tour winner, long-time Hyde Park owner dies

The seven-time PGA Tour winner passed away at the age of 92.

Billy Maxwell, a Texas golf legend, PGA Tour winner, long-time Hyde Park owner dies

Billy Maxwell, a feisty, gritty competitor who won seven PGA Tour titles with the help of a lethal 4-wood and precise short game, died Monday at the Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, at the age of 92. He had suffered a stroke on Sept. 5.

In addition to a golf career that included eight top-10s and 19 top-25s in major championships and a 4-0 record in the 1963 Ryder Cup, Maxwell also owned the Hyde Park Golf Club, long considered one of the top public-golf experiences in the area.

He loved nothing more than to set up shop at the practice range, hit balls, tell golf stories or give free tips to customers.

“That’s all he ever wanted to do, was play and talk golf,” said his daughter Melanie Bevill. “I asked him one time, ‘do we always have to talk about golf in this family?’ But it was fun to watch him with people. He had an amazing career and an amazing life.”

A golf pro to the end, Bevill said as recently as last week her father was giving a nurse at Brooks a lesson on how to grip the club.

“I walked in and asked how he was doing and one of them said, ‘Oh, he was just giving us golf lesson,’” she said. “Then the nurse told me that she Googled Dad’s name and didn’t realize all that he had accomplished.”

Restoring a public gem: Hyde Park owners on 100th anniversary project

Duke Butler III, a fellow member of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame with Maxwell and former PGA Tour pro and Tour executive, said Maxwell had “enormous passion for the game, and for playing it correctly.”

Maxwell grew up in the game

Maxwell was bred to play golf. He and his twin brother Bob were the last two of seven children born to W.O. and Eudona Maxwell and his father was the head pro and superintendent of the Maxwell Municipal Golf Course in Abilene, Texas, which is still operating.

Maxwell went on to win the 1947 Texas State Junior, the 1951 U.S. Amateur and play on three NCAA national championship teams at North Texas State – in a lineup considered the best in college golf history, along with Don January, Buster Reed and Joe Conrad.

Maxwell beat Joe Gagliardi, 4 and 3, in the U.S. Amateur final at Saucon Valley in Pennsylvania but that wasn’t his biggest victory of the year. It was earlier when he married Mary Katharine, known to family and friends as “M.K.” They were married for 47 years before she passed away in 1999.

Maxwell carved out a respectable career on the PGA Tour, winning 10 professional tournaments in all, adding the Mexican, Puerto Rican and Florida Opens to his Tour ledger.

Maxwell’s best season was in 1961 when he won the Bob Hope Desert Classic by two shots over Doug Sanders, then out-dueled Ted Kroll on the seventh playoff hole to win the Insurance City Open, the forerunner to the PGA Tour’s current event in Hartford, Connecticut.

Maxwell finished 10th on the PGA Tour money list that season with $28,335.

He also won the Memphis Open and the Dallas City Open, which later morphed into the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.

Breaking 90: Billy Maxwell celebrated at TPC Sawgrass

Memories: Billy Maxwell won Bob Hope event 50 years ago

Maxwell, Blocker buy Hyde Park

Maxwell then found a second career as a golf-course owner. Through his years of playing in the Greater Jacksonville Open, Maxwell discovered Hyde Park, which had been owned by the of Jacksonville. He and fellow Tour pro Chris Blocker got the money together to buy the course in 1971, and it has since become a favored place for players of all ability levels and backgrounds.

When he wasn’t touring, Maxwell was often at Hyde Park, either hitting balls or giving lessons on the range, or telling tall tales in the pro shop.

“He was always very positive and very supportive of my career,” said 10-time Tour winner Mark McCumber, who grew up across the street from Hyde Park.

McCumber said that after he began winning on the Tour, he could count on a congratulatory hand-written card being in the mail from M.K. Maxwell.

Later, he played with Maxwell at the Tour’s team championship at Disney World and got a taste of Maxwell’s legendary competitiveness.

“Billy had a 50-foot putt that was really breaking hard,” McCumber said. “It burned the edge. I yelled over, ‘Nice roll, pro.’ He yelled back, ‘If I wanted nice rolls I’d go to the bakery.’ Billy was a very determined competitor. Put hit his head down and plowed forward.”

Another product of Hyde Park, former Tour member and two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner Charles Raulerson, said Maxwell told him how to handle the day-to-day competition on the Tour.

“He said to get on the first tee, and be a gentleman,” Raulerson said. “Shake their hands and be polite but in your head, tell yourself, ‘you’ve got to beat these guys today. If you don’t, you’ll never win a golf tournament.’”

Maxwell continued playing competitive golf into his 70s at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event on the PGA Tour champions. He also played in Northern Chapter PGA events, the Henry Tuten Gator Bowl Pro-Am and an earlier version of the Underwood Cup matches.

He also was a member of “The Munchkins,” a group of former PGA Tour executives, players and charter members of the TPC Sawgrass who frequented the Stadium and Dye’s Valley Courses.

Fond caddie memories of Maxwell

Raulerson said Maxwell was never afraid to speak his mind. One day while chatting with Maxwell in the pro shop, a customer came in and asked how much a golf glove cost. When Maxwell was told he could buy the glove cheaper at Edwin Watts, a golf retail chain that had just opened its first store in Jacksonville, Maxwell replied, “then go play their course.”

Former TaxSlayer Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett came to know Maxwell through his father and brother, PGA Tour player Terry Catlett, and caddied for Maxwell at the GJO when he was a student at Parker.

Maxwell then offered Catlett a working vacation: before entering the Air National Guard in 1970, Catlett caddied for Maxwell in all four Florida Swing events.

The trip to Miami to play at Doral included a visit one night to the Miami Playboy Club to hang with Maxwell and one of his friends – baseball legend Mickey Mantle.

“I was mesmerized,” Catlett said. “Caddying for Billy was one of the top-five experiences I’ve had in my life and I’ve had some pretty good experiences. He was very good to me, a lot of fun to be around. It wasn’t like a typical player-caddie relationship where the player would go one way and the caddie another at the end of the day. I stayed with him at the best hotels, ate dinner with him, went to the pro-am parties. It was a unique insight into PGA Tour life.”

Bevill said funeral arrangements are pending and may include a memorial for her father at Hyde Park, which is undergoing renovations in its 96th year of operation.

Source : Golf Week More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

U.S. captain and quiet tough guy Steve Stricker sets a game plan to win the Ryder Cup in his back yard

Behind Steve Stricker's nice-guy, aw-shucks, Andy Griffith-sweet-tea persona is a driven competitor.

U.S. captain and quiet tough guy Steve Stricker sets a game plan to win the Ryder Cup in his back yard

Jordan Spieth was struggling mightily in his first cup appearance as a pro, and in need of some help. Through nine holes of his opening Four-Ball match in the 2013 Presidents Cup, Spieth already had hit two balls into the water and badly chunked a 6-iron. At Muirfield Village in Ohio, everything was moving too fast.

Ah, but he had a partner. A savvy, measured man with a bit of experience beneath his vest and a knack for saying just the right things. Steve Stricker was 46, more than twice the age of Spieth, then 20, with whom he was partnered at Jack’s Place. Stricker reached his hand out. “I got you. Just settle in. You’re good. No worries,” Stricker told him.

Two hours later, Spieth had come to life, and he and Stricker stood on the 18th green having defeated South Africans Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge, 1 up. No worries at all.

“There’s no ‘fakeness’ to Steve Stricker,” Spieth said of the man who will captain Team USA at Whistling Straits in the 43rd Ryder Cup. “What you see now, and every time you’ve talked to him, is who he is. … He’s just got a lot of wisdom. He has seen a lot in this game.”

In truth, Stricker, 54, is—and isn’t—what everybody appears to see on the surface. Raised like a tall stalk of corn in Wisconsin, in nearby Edgerton, about 90 miles from the matches in Haven, he genuinely is one of the most universally liked players on both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions circuits. That’s all true.

What people perhaps don’t see is this: Behind the nice-guy, aw-shucks, Andy Griffith-sweet-tea persona is a driven competitor, fierce and gritty on the inside.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker speaks during the 43rd Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks Press Conference at Whistling Straits on September 8, 2021 in Haven, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Stricker is a fighter, somebody who completely lost his game for a handful of years but would claw back to be a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, playing on three Ryder Cup teams. This U.S. team, having lost four of its last five meetings against Europe, needs a fighter running point more than ever.

Stricker vows this much: The U.S. team will not be out-prepared. To that end, Stricker organized two days of practice and team bonding on site at Whistling Straits 10 days before the matches. He is not the first captain to urge players to show up early and study a course.

Deep dives into stats and analytics, autumn weather and wind prognostications, making sure pairings are compatible, figuring out which Foursomes players hit tee shots on odd and even holes, it’s all part of the grand plan for Stricker, who, with Covid-19 pushing the Ryder Cup to 2021, has had 31 months on the job. He knows the highs and lows the Ryder Cup delivers. Stricker was one of six rookies on Paul Azinger’s winning 2008 squad at Valhalla, and he was rendered a helpless bystander as Europe’s Martin Kaymer sank the cup-clinching putt at Medinah in 2012.

Much of the captain’s jargon we have heard before. But when players show up for real on Sept. 21, Stricker wants no surprises.

“My message from Day 1 has been to try to out-prepare the other team, the European team, and for me, it’s been that way throughout my career,” Stricker said.

Stricker basically has had three playing careers. There was the long-bashing blond world-beater from the mid-90s with great potential and promise, a player who won twice in 1996 and caught the attention of Tiger Woods as a potential future rival. (“He seems kind of shy,” Woods once said of Stricker, “but you look at him and know that whatever is inside is tough.”

There was the player fighting to keep his Tour playing privileges from 2002-2005, who had huge driver woes, and in one futile stretch had one top-10 in 100 starts. Finally, there was the 40-something Stricker, who honed a reliable swing, became a killer with the wedge and putter, and won nine times between 2009-2012.

“He knows what he is doing,” said Irishman Padraig Harrington, who will captain Europe at Whistling Straits. Harrington first met Stricker 20 years ago, when Stricker beat him at the WGC-Match Play in Australia.

Ryder Cup

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker and European Captain Padraig Harrington onstage during an interview on the Feherty Live, Countdown to the Ryder Cup show, as part of the Ryder Cup 2020 Year to Go media event, in 2019 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“A lovely guy, he is,” Harrington said. “But you don’t do what Steve has done in this game without being a tough customer. You know there is a strong heart in there. I am well aware of that. I fear him more than anything else. The quiet ones are the tough ones, aren’t they?”

Xander Schauffele, the Olympic gold medalist and one of Stricker’s six captain’s selections, is only 27 but has witnessed Stricker’s intensity firsthand. In 2017, the two were grouped together in a U.S. Open qualifier in Memphis. Stricker had just turned 50. The U.S. Open was being staged for the first time in Wisconsin, at Erin Hills. Stricker wasn’t about to miss it.

“I think people see Stricker as the guy who may cry in an interview after he’s won a tournament, but playing with him, there’s a fire burning,” Schauffele said. Stricker shot 67-65 and was medalist at the qualifier. Fittingly, he didn’t leave until offering encouraging words to Schauffele, who was headed into a playoff. (Schauffele would advance, then finish T-5 at Erin Hills to jumpstart his career.) What did the young pro learn about Stricker?

“That the guy’s got some stuff under his sleeve,” Schauffele said.

When Stricker stands on the first tee on Friday morning at the 43rd Ryder Cup—a son of Wisconsin captaining a U.S. team in his home state—the moment will be highly emotional, but not too big for him. It brings a smile to Stricker’s face knowing the biggest spectacle in golf has come to Wisconsin. Stricker has one main ask for his team: For one week in September, he wants each player to be fully invested.

Without question, their captain will be.

Source : Golf Week More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.