Billy Maxwell, Former Ryder Cup Player, Dies at 92

Billy Maxwell
Leonard Firestone, President of the Palm Springs Golf Classic, presents a check to Billy Maxwell after Maxwell won the 1961 Palm Springs Golf Classic (the current American Express). Maxwell earned $5,300. (Getty Images)

The great Billy Maxwell has died. He was 92.

Born on July 23, 1929, Maxwell was raised in his family’s home off the fourth green at Abilene (Texas) Country Club. 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.

Following college, Maxwell served in the U.S. Army before turning professional in 1954. He won eight titles on the PGA Tour, including three in 1961 (now known as The American Express, The Travelers and Puerto Rico Open). His final victory came at the 1962 Dallas Open Invitational (now called the Byron Nelson), a year in which he finished a career-best 12th place on the money list with nearly $32,000.

Maxwell finished with eight top-10s in the Majors, including top-5s 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.



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