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Perry Maxwell, Golf Course Architect at a Glance

By: Jay Flemma


Chris Clouser, author of "The Midwest Associate," may have compiled the most comprehensive synopsis of Perry Maxwell's body of work as a golf course architect. "Actually, Maxwell is misunderstood by many people," he notes with a hint of regret in his voice. "For example, he wasn't Mackenzie's associate, he was his partner." Clouser goes on to explain that, during their period of collaboration (1924-35), "Mackenzie would get the contracts, then they would collaborate n the design. Then Maxwell finished everything." History reflects this arrangement at such famous places as Crystal Downs and the University of Michigan Golf Course, but did you know they also did Oklahoma City Country Club and Melrose Country Club in Pennsylvania?

Clouser found a Maxwell quote in an article published late in Perry's life where Maxwell was quoted as saying that he believed he was involved with the original or complete redesign of roughly 70 courses and did some work on almost 50 courses more. His career took him to 21 different states. This timeline, which made its way from Clouser through golf course architecture expert and aficionado Wyatt Halliday, can only clearly affirm 52 original designs and 27 renovations in only 20 states, but this list is the most comprehensive to date.

"Maxwell's career was a little weird," Clouser admits with a sheepish grin and a hint of pluckiness in his voice. "He had three distinct styles. First and best known is what I call 'Oklahoma style'," he continues energetically. "Most of his designs in Oklahoma are remarkably consistent: simple lines with most holes pretty straight and doglegs around 45 degrees, average, and then his greens had his trademark rolls," he finishes. "Maxwell had simple bunkers early in his career - not the standard saucers you see at Southern Hills, but also not the blown-out bunkers of say a Coore and Crenshaw design."

Clouser pauses almost reverently, seeming to revitalize himself to recount more of the interesting tale of the banker-turned-designer, who moved to golf design at the impetus of his wife, who died tragically a few years later of appendicitis. "After Mackenzie and for most of his stuff outside Oklahoma, he developed a more artistic flair in bunkering. It became more flamboyant with rough-edging, looking a little closer to Coore and Crenshaw and Tom Doak. This was a conscious decision to depart from his earlier work," Clouser notes.

"Then I find a third style in two of his courses - his first and last, Dornick Hills in Oklahoma and Oak Cliff in Dallas." Clouser notes almost reverently that these courses were modeled after the fabled template holes he studied at National Golf Links of America and other Charles Blair Macdonald designs. "Macdonald was clearly an early influence," Clouser remarks emphatically. "At Oak Cliff you have a cape hole, a bottle, a knoll, and variations on an eden and a redan. Then Maxwell came up with a couple on his own. When he found a similar land form on a property he'd build a similar hole," Clouser reckons. One example is a tee shot to a plateau, then drop shot to the green. These were mostly shorter-to-medium length par-4s.

Clouser finishes his review of the list of Maxwell courses with this notation:

"Currently, there are five courses prior to the Lakewood construction and 11 courses after the Lakewood construction that need to be identified to meet the Maxwell number. One of the largest possibilities is the window of time between 1926 and 1933 in the Philadelphia area, as Maxwell had an active office in the area, but no documented work during that period of time. Another is post-World War II in Texas along what is now the I-35 corridor as he took several jobs during this period in this area and only a few are documented. The likelihood also exists that several courses from the early days of his career in Oklahoma are not identified as they fell under during the Depression or during World War II. It is known that he also did work on a course in Connecticut, but no members of the Maxwell family know the details of the work as Perry only mentioned it as some additional work that he took on during his career. Using these as the basis for further investigation it is hopeful that one day a complete list of his work can be identified."

Solo Designs by Perry Maxwell

Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 1913-23
Twin Hills Golf & Country Club, Oklahoma City, 1920-23
Duncan Golf & Country Club, Duncan, Oklahoma, 1921
Buffalo Hills Golf Club, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, 1922
Bristow Golf Club, Bristow, Oklahoma, 1923
Shawnee Country Club, Shawnee, Oklahoma, 1923
Indian Hills Country Club, Catoosa, Oklahoma, 1924
Muskogee Country Club (redesign), Muskogee, Oklahoma, 1924
Kennedy Golf Course (NLE), Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1925
Highland Park Golf Course (NLE), Tulsa, 1925
Edgemere Golf Course, Oklahoma City, 1925
Riverside Country Club, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, 1925
Hillcrest Country Club, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1926
Hardscrabble Country Club, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1926
Pennsylvania Golf Club (NLE), Llarnech, Pennsylvania, 1924
Cushing Country Club, Cushing, Oklahoma, 1929
Ponca City Country Club (redesign), Ponca City, Oklahoma, 1929
Rochelle Country Club, Rochelle, Illinois, 1929
Princeton Country Club, Princeton, Kentucky, 1931
Hillcrest Golf Course, Coffeyville, Kansas, 1932
Brookside Golf Course, Oklahoma City, 1934
Mohawk Park Golf Course, Tulsa, 1934
Iowa State University Golf Course, Ames, Iowa, 1934-37
Oak Hills Golf & Country Club, Ada, Oklahoma, 1935
Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, 1935-36
Arkansas City Country Club, Arkansas City, Kansas, 1937
McPherson Country Club, McPherson, Kansas, 1937
Topeka Country Club (redesign), Topeka, Kansas, 1938
Blackwell Municipal Golf Course, Blackwell, Oklahoma, 1939
Mount Pleasant Country Club, Mount Pleasant, Texas, 1939
The Old Town Club, Winston-Salem, NC, 1939
Reynolds Park Golf Course, Winston-Salem, NC, 1940
Walnut Hills Golf Club (NLE), Dallas, 1940
Duke University (Never constructed), Durham, North Carolina, 1940
Gillespie Golf Club, Greensboro, North Carolina, 1941
Lawton Country Club, Lawton, Oklahoma, 1948

Co-Designed with Art Jackson

Lincoln Park Golf Course (second course), Oklahoma City, 1926

Co-Designed with John Bredemus and Marvin Leonard

Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas, 1934

Co-Designed with Alister Mackenzie

Melrose Country Club, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, 1924-26
Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club*, Oklahoma City, 1927
Crystal Downs Country Club, Frankfort, Michigan, 1928-31
University of Michigan Golf Course, Ann Arbor, 1931
Ohio State University Golf Course **, Columbus, 1935
*co-design in contract only
**construction by Maxwell, design by Mackenzie

Co-Designed with Press Maxwell

Prairie Dunes Country Club, Hutchinson, Kansas, 1937, 1957
Lakewood Country Club, Point Clear, Alabama, 1944-47
Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas, 1946-48
Excelsior Springs Golf Course (NLE), Excelsior Springs, Missouri, 1947
Grandview Municipal Golf Course, Springfield, Missouri, 1947
Oakwood Country Club, Enid, Oklahoma, 1947-48
Kentucky Dam Village, Kentucky Dam Village, Kentucky, 1948
Camp Hood Golf Course (NLE), Camp Hood, Texas, 1948
Randolph Oaks Golf Course, Randolph AFB, Texas, 1948
F.E. Warren AFB Golf Course, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1948
Bayou DeSiard Country Club, Monroe, Louisiana, 1949
Palmetto Country Club, Benton, Louisiana, 1950
University of Oklahoma Golf Course, Norman, 1950
Oak Cliff Country Club, Dallas, 1951
River Hills Golf Club (NLE), Irving, Texas, 1951
Lake Hefner Golf Course, Oklahoma City, 1951

Renovations by Perry Maxwell
Lincoln Park Golf Course (green renovation), Oklahoma City, 1926
Philadelphia Country Club (one hole and greens), Philadelphia, 1933
Pine Valley Golf Club (three holes), Clementon, New Jersey, 1933
Sunnybrook Golf Club (greens) , Flourtown, Pennsylvania, 1934
Gulph Mills Country Club (five holes) , King of Prussia, Pa., 1934-38
The National Golf Links of America (unknown), Southampton, New York, 1935
Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club (three holes), Ardmore, Oklahoma, 1936
Links Golf Club (greens) , Long Island, New York, 1936
Oaks Country Club (six holes), Tulsa, 1936
Augusta National Golf Club (11 holes), Augusta, Georgia, 1937-38
North Fulton Golf Course (up to four holes), Atlanta, 1937
Merion Golf Club (greens), Ardmore, Pennsylvania, 1938
Hillandale Country Club (green renovation) , Hillandale, North Carolina, 1938
Huntington Crescent Club (unknown), Long Island, New York, 1939
Rockaway Hunting Club (unknown), Long Island, New York, 1939
Maidstone Golf Club (renovation plan), Long Island, New York, 1939
Westchester Country Club (unknown) , Westchester, New York, 1939
Twin Hills (greens), Oklahoma City, 1939
Colonial Country Club (three holes), Fort Worth, Texas, 1940
Brook Hollow Country Club (greens), Dallas, 1940
Hope Valley Country Club (all greens), Durham, North Carolina, 1940
Clearwater Country Club (all greens, four holes), Clearwater, Florida, 1940-45
Saucon Valley Country Club (two holes), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1944
Salina Country Club (four holes), Salina, Kansas, 1945
Lincoln Homestead Park Golf Course (greens), Springfield, Kentucky, 1948
Omaha Country Club (several holes), Omaha, Nebraska, 1951

Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, http://www.jayflemma.thegolfspace.com, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 220 nationally ranked public golf courses in 37 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer (www.golfobserver.com), Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.