Billy Maxwell, a feisty, brave competitor who won seven PGA Tour titles using a fatal 4-wood and precise short game, died Monday at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville at the age of 92.
Maxwell suffered a stroke on September 5th.
In addition to a golf career with eight top 10 and 19 top 25 tournaments in major championships and a 4-0 record in the Ryder Cup in 1963, Maxwell also owned the Hyde Park Golf Club, which has long been considered one of the best public Golf clubs was considered experience in the area.
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He loved shopping at the practice range, hitting balls, telling golf stories, or giving customers free tips.
“All he always wanted was to play golf and talk,” said his daughter Melanie Bevill. “I once asked him: ‘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. ”
Bevill was a pro to the end, saying just last week that her father taught a nurse at Brooks how to grip the club.
“I came in and asked how he was doing and one of them said, ‘Oh, he was just giving us golf lessons,'” Cavill said. “Then the nurse told me that she Googled Papa’s name and didn’t know what he had achieved.”
Duke Butler III, a member of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame with Maxwell and a former PGA Tour Pro and Tour manager, said Maxwell has “enormous passion for the game and for getting it right”.
Maxwell grew up playing
Maxwell was bred to play golf. He and his twin brother, Bob, were the last two of seven children of WO 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 won the Texas State Junior in 1947, the 1951 US Amateur, and played on three NCAA national championship teams in North Texas State, along with Don January, Buster Reed, and Joe Conrad in what is considered the best line-up in college golf history.
Maxwell defeated Joe Gagliardi 4 and 3 in the US amateur finals in the Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania, but that wasn’t his biggest win of the year. It was before he married Mary Katharine (known as “MK” by family and friends). They were married for 47 years before she died in 1999.
Maxwell then made a respectable career on the PGA Tour, winning a total of 10 professional tournaments and adding the Mexican, Puerto Rican and Florida Open to his tour ledger.
Maxwell’s best season was in 1961 when he won the Bob Hope Desert Classic by two strokes over Doug Sanders and then defeated Ted Kroll on the seventh playoff hole to win the Insurance City Open, the forerunner of the current PGA Tour event in Hartford. Conn.
Maxwell finished 10th on the PGA Tour money list that season – for $ 28,335.
He also won the Memphis Open and the Dallas City Open, which later merged into the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.
Maxwell, blockers buy Hyde Park
Maxwell then found a second career as a golf course owner. During his years at the Greater Jacksonville Open, Maxwell discovered Hyde Park, which was owned by Jacksonville. He and fellow tour pro Chris Blocker had the money to buy the course in 1971 and it has been a favorite with players of all skill levels and backgrounds ever since.
When he wasn’t on tour, Maxwell was often in Hyde Park, either hitting balls or giving lessons on the range or telling big stories in the pro shop.
“He’s always been very positive and has been very supportive of my career,” said 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, who grew up across from Hyde Park.
McCumber said that after he started winning on the tour, he could count on a handwritten greeting card from MK Maxwell in the mail.
He later played with Maxwell in the Tour Team Championship at Disney World and got a taste of Maxwell’s legendary competitiveness.
“Billy had a 50-foot putt that broke really hard,” said McCumber. “It burned the edge. I yelled over, ‘nice role, professional’. 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 Hyde Park product, former tour member and two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, Charles Raulerson, said Maxwell had explained how to deal with daily competition on the tour.
“He said I should take the first tee and be a gentleman,” said Raulerson. “Shake hands with them and be polite, but in your head, say to yourself, ‘You have to beat these guys today.’ If you don’t, you will never win a golf tournament. ‘”
Maxwell played competitive golf at the PGA Tour Champions Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event well into his 1970s. 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 was also a member of The Munchkins, a group of former PGA Tour managers, players and founding members of TPC Sawgrass who visited the stadium and Dye’s Valley Courses
Nice caddy memories
Raulerson said Maxwell was never afraid to speak his mind. One day, while talking to Maxwell in the pro shop, a customer came in and asked how much a golf glove cost. When Maxwell said he could buy the glove cheaper from Edwin Watts, a golf retail chain that had just opened its first store in Jacksonville, Maxwell replied, “Then play your place.”
Former President of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Rick Catlett, met Maxwell through his father and brother, PGA Tour player Terry Catlett, and was a GJO Caddy for Maxwell while he was a student at Parker.
Maxwell then offered Catlett a work vacation: Before Catlett joined the Air National Guard in 1970, she was Maxwell’s caddy at all four Florida swing events.
The trip to Miami to play at Doral included a nightly visit to the Miami Playboy Club to hang out with Maxwell and one of his friends – baseball legend Mickey Mantle.
“I was intrigued,” said Catlett. “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, it was a lot of fun to be with him. It wasn’t like a typical player-caddy relationship, where at the end of the day the player went one direction and the caddy went another. I’ve stayed with him in the best hotels, had dinner with him, and went to the pro-am parties. It was a unique insight into the life of the PGA Tour. ”
Bevill said funeral arrangements are pending and may include a memorial to her father in Hyde Park under renovation in its 96th year of operation.