Seven-time TOUR winner Billy Maxwell, a former Ryder Cup player, passes away

Seven-time TOUR winner Billy Maxwell, a former Ryder Cup player, passes away

Billy Maxwell, who grew up next to a golf course and led a full life of golf as a top amateur and successful touring professional before becoming a golf course owner, has passed away at the age of 92.

Born on July 23, 1929, Maxwell was raised in his family’s home off the fourth green at Abilene (Texas) Country Club. The sport became his passion as Maxwell developed into a leading amateur who won the 1951 U.S. Amateur and helped North Texas State College win three straight NCAA Division I Championships (1950-1952). 

At North Texas, Maxwell teamed with fellow future Texas Golf Hall of Fame members Don January and Joe Conrad all three championship years, which in fact followed the school’s first-ever NCAA title in 1949. In September of their second championship year together, Maxwell advanced to the finals of the U.S. Amateur at Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania. Before a tournament-record crowd of approximately 7,000, he defeated career amateur Joe Gagliardi, 4 and 3. At age 22, Maxwell became the second-youngest U.S. Amateur champion at the time.

Following college, Maxwell served in the U.S. Army before turning professional in 1954. He had a successful PGA TOUR career, winning seven times, including three wins in 1961. His final victory came at the 1962 Dallas Open Invitational, a year in which he finished a career-best 12th place on the money list with nearly $32,000. Although he never won a major championship, Maxwell performed consistently well at the three U.S. majors, finishing with eight top-10s, including ties for fifth at the 1962 Masters and 1963 U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Also in 1963, Maxwell competed in his first and only Ryder Cup at the former Atlanta Athletic Club site, now occupied by East Lake Golf Club. Though a rookie at age 34, he had a sterling performance as the only player to go 4-0-0 to help the U.S. cruise to a 23-9 victory over Great Britain. Maxwell teamed with Bob Goalby to win his first match in foursomes, then teamed with Billy Casper twice to win in four-balls and concluded with a 2-and-1 singles victory over Christy O’Connor.

Once Maxwell’s playing began to wind down, he turned his attention to the business side of golf, partnering with fellow Texas touring professional Chris Blocker in 1971 to purchase Hyde Park Golf Club, a public course in Jacksonville, Florida, that was designed by famed Scottish architect Donald Ross and opened in 1925. Once home to the PGA TOUR’s Greater Jacksonville Open and site of LPGA great Mickey Wright’s first professional victory, Hyde Park was where PGA TOUR players such as Dan Sikes, Mark McCumber and Charles Raulerson honed their game as youths. 

After Blocker died in June 2016, Maxwell’s daughter and husband, Melanie and Tommy Bevill, took ownership of Hyde Park. But Billy remained dedicated to the course he owned for more than four decades until his passing.

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