Architect Profiles, Architects
Architect Profile: Perry Maxwell
Perry Maxwell was born in Kentucky in 1879 but moved to Oklahoma at an early age, partly to recover from tuberculosis. After college, Maxwell pursued a successful career in banking where he would remain until his mid-30’s. In 1913, Maxwell built his first course, Dornick Hills, on family land in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Maxwell’s design activity would pick up after a trip to Scotland in 1919, and he became a full-time golf course architect in 1925. Initially, he designed courses primarily in Oklahoma but eventually branched out across the United States. Perry Maxwell was at the top of his game towards the tail end of the golden age of golf course architecture. His designs in the 1930s include Southern Hills, Prairie Dunes, Old Town Club, and he also built Crystal Downs for Alister Mackenzie. Later in his career, Maxwell’s son Perry joined him for several designs.
Maxwell is perhaps most famous for his highly contoured greens, which are often referred to as Maxwell’s rolls. During his career, he rebuilt greens at some of the most famous courses in the U.S., including Augusta National, National Golf Links of America, and Pine Valley. Maxwell died in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1952 and is buried in a family cemetery near the seventh hole at Dornick Hills.
- Courses: 53
- Top Ranked Courses (World)*: 3 (Old Town Club, Prairie Dunes, Southern Hills)
- Top Ranked Courses (U.S.)*: 6
- Public Courses < $100: 24
- Total Majors Hosted**: 13 (10 Men, 3 Women)
Select Course Portfolio
Public < $100
In the heat map above, the size of the circle is determined by the number of Maxwell courses in a particular state, and the color of the circle is determined by the accessibility of those courses. The darker blue the circle, the more public courses there are in that particular state. Oklahoma (22) offers the most Maxwell courses, followed by Texas and Kansas (six each).
One of the best aspects of Maxwell’s portfolio is that half of his designs are accessible to the public and the overwhelming majority of those courses can be played for under $100 in peak season! Compared to other top classic golf course architects (e.g. Seth Raynor is 13% public), Maxwell has one of the most accessible portfolios of them all. To see public Maxwell courses, the highest concentrations are in Oklahoma. Within a three-hour drive of Oklahoma City, one could see a dozen Maxwell public courses. Now there’s an interesting golf trip idea!
If you have access to private golf, the most concentrated area of private Maxwell courses is also in Oklahoma. Eight of the courses in the “top-ranked” list above are within a day’s drive of Oklahoma City.
- The Midwest Associate by Chris Clouser
- Perry Maxwell’s Prairie Dunes by Mal Elliott
- Writings on the Perry Maxwell Society website
Open Links Website
To find Maxwell courses near you, register for free on our website. Go to the Architect filter and select Perry Maxwell. You can then add any additional filters to meet your preferences (e.g. accessibility, location, price).
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*ranked by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, or Golfweek
**includes major team events like the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup
Cover photo of Southern Hills #12 by Open Links