FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, July 11, 2017
JAGA, FRIENDS TO HONOR BILLY MAXWELL ON FRIDAY AT
“BILLY MAXWELL CLARET JUG” AT HYDE PARK GOLF CLUB
JACKSONVILLE, FL – On the eve of his 88th birthday, Billy Maxwell will be honored on Friday by the Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) and many of his friends with the playing of the third Billy Maxwell Claret Jug golf tournament at Maxwell’s own Hyde Park Golf Club.
Twenty-six two-man teams have entered to play nine holes of better ball and nine holes of modified alternate shot. The former national amateur champion, seven-time PGA TOUR winner and 1963 Ryder Cup stalwart will be on hand to officially kick things off with a ceremonial tee shot prior to the 1 p.m. shotgun start.
Billy Maxwell – “The West Texas Cyclone”
Maxwell, who was raised in Abilene, Texas, turns 88 on July 23rd. Dubbed “The West Texas Cyclone” early in his amateur career, his golf accomplishments are many and include a win in the 1951 U.S. Amateur Championship at Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania, seven PGA TOUR wins and a 4-0-0 record in the 1963 Ryder Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga.
Prior to turning pro, Maxwell played on four consecutive NCAA Championship winning teams (1949-1952) while at North Texas State, with major champion Don January among his teammates. In 1971, Maxwell and fellow TOUR professional Chris Blocker purchased Hyde Park GC, Jacksonville’s storied gem that was designed by Donald Ross in 1925 and played host to several PGA TOUR and LPGA events in the 1940s and 50s.
Among his friends playing in the Claret Jug is fellow U.S. Amateur champion (1967) and former PGA TOUR member Bob Dickson of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Maxwell’s 1951 U.S. Amateur victory at Saucon Valley is chronicled in Robin McCool’s recently published book, “Once Upon A September”. Several copies of the book, autographed by Maxwell and provided compliments of fellow Texan and JAGA Director Duke Butler III, will be given away as prizes at the tournament, in addition to officially-licensed Open Championship/Claret Jug merchandise.
A few interesting items about Billy Maxwell’s life and career include:
➢ Won the 1947 Texas State Junior Championship at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, where he bunked with his twin brother, Bobby, and four other boys in one hotel room.
➢ Served in the U.S. Army from 1952 through 1954; was pro-superintendent at the Fort Hood Golf Course in Killeen, Texas.
➢ The Maxwell Municipal Golf Course in Abilene is named for his father, W.O., who was pro-superintendent.
➢ Used a member-loaned Wilson Patty Berg sand wedge in route to his win at Saucon Valley, which he wound up using for 20 years and led to a long-term relationship with Wilson.
➢ The legendary Mickey Wright won her first LPGA tournament at Hyde Park in 1956.
➢ The 151-yard par-3 sixth hole at Hyde Park was the scene of a rare Ben Hogan blow-up. Leading the 1947 Jacksonville Open, the Texan, in an effort to avoid a gapping front-right bunker, hit several balls into a water hazard left of the green, resulting in an 11. “I remember that like it was yesterday,” Hogan said when asked years later to recall his worst hole in competition. “It was Hyde Park in Jacksonville.”
➢ In about 1960, while making the turn at the Houston Open, he wrote a check for $10,000 and give it to fellow professional/stock broker Walter Burkemo and asked him to invest it. Burkemo bought a bowling company stock, AMF, which proved successful. With the proceeds and his winnings on TOUR, he and Chris Blocker bought Hyde Park GC in 1971.
➢ In a two separate 17-year PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions careers:
PGA TOUR (1955-72) – 7 wins, 13 runners-up, 11 thirds, 114 top-10s, 246 top-25s in 486 starts (433 cuts made), and $375,648 in earnings.
PGA TOUR Champions (1980-97) – 292 starts, 7 top-10s and $455,227 in earnings.
➢ Played in nine Jacksonville Opens from 1965 to 1974, with his best showings a T9 in 1967 and a T10 in 1970.
To this day, golf remains a central component in Maxwell’s life. He still practices up to five days a week at TPC Sawgrass and enjoys spending time at Hyde Park. As the last sentence in McCool’s book says, “He has never forgotten the real reason he plays is simply for the love of the game.”
JAGA’s next event is the 56th Jacksonville Amateur Championship (July 20-22 at Jacksonville Golf & Country Club). Interested participants have until Sunday (15th) at 5 p.m. to sign up at www.jaxareagolf.org.
Established in 1954, JAGA celebrates its 64th year in 2017. It is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (4) corporation comprised of over 40-member golf clubs located in the Northeast Florida area. JAGA’s mission is to promote golf and goodwill through tournaments and related events and activities. JAGA manages a scholarship program that annually provides college funding for 26 area students. Since 1974 the program has generated approximately $1.7 million in financial aid to approximately 300 students.