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MAXWELL, PERRY DUKE (1879-1952)

In 2001 Golf Digest listed three of golf-course architect Perry Maxwell's designs or co-designs in the top thirty golf links in the United States: Southern Hills (Tulsa), Crystal Downs (Frankfort, Michigan), and Prairie Dunes (Hutchinson, Kansas). A 1993 Daily Oklahoman article estimated that he had designed seventy golf courses and remodeled another fifty. Of Scottish heritage, Maxwell was born June 13, 1879, in Princeton, Kentucky. He moved to Ardmore in 1897, after two forays into college that ill health caused him to curtail. In 1902 he married Ray Woods and settled into a banking job, becoming the Ardmore National Bank vice president. In 1913 he built the first nine holes of Dornick Hills in Ardmore; he added nine more holes in 1923. After his wife died in 1919, he traveled the United States and Europe, studying golf courses. On his return to Oklahoma he began building courses around the state, completing links in Shawnee, Catoosa, Muskogee, Bartlesville, and Oklahoma City before 1930.

In the 1930s Maxwell became a national force in the golf industry. In 1931 Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who with Bobby Jones was involved in the development of Augusta National in Georgia, invited Maxwell to become a partner. During this period Maxwell designed courses throughout the United States including Crystal Downs, Vencker Memorial (Ames, Iowa), Southern Hills, Ohio State University Golf Course (Columbus, Ohio), and Prairie Dunes. In 1934 Mackenzie died, and Maxwell's involvement with the Augusta course increased. Other venues hired him to redesign parts of their layouts. Colonial Country Club (Fort Worth, Texas), Pine Valley (New Jersey), and Merion Golf Club (Ardmore, Pennsylvania), nationally prominent courses, requested him to upgrade some of their holes.

Perry Maxwell was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Known for forming links out of the natural terrain, rather than by wholesale land movement, he continued to design and build golf courses until he died on November 15, 1952, in Tulsa. In the 1940s he had a leg amputated because of cancer, which limited the amount of on-site work he could accomplish. His son J. Press Maxwell assisted him during this time and became a prominent golf course architect after the elder Maxwell's death.

SEE ALSO: SUSIE MAXWELL BERNING, CHARLES COE, GOLF, LABRON HARRIS, JAMES MICHAEL HOLDER, ELIZABETH JAMESON, GILMER MORGAN, SPORTS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 23 May 1993. Charles Evans, "Perry Duke Maxwell," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 31 (Summer 1953). Del Lemon, The Story of Golf in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).

Larry O'Dell

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