Caroline Gist plays golf at Twin Hills and Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club. She also has played at Ardmore's Dornick Hills and Tulsa's Southern Hills.
And it's a different experience for Gist than it is when me or you hack around those splendid layouts.
“It's a very special feeling to be on the course that my great-great uncle designed,” Gist said.
Perry Maxwell died 60 years ago, but his impact on Oklahoma remains paramount. Maxwell was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night, years too late for someone of his contributions.
Maxwell designed great golf courses all over the state. He also brought great golfers to the state, through his superb designs. Nine major championships have been played in Oklahoma. Eight major championships were played on Maxwell courses – three U.S. Opens and four PGAs at Southern Hills; one PGA at Twin Hills.
“I wish I had known him,” said Curt Boecking, Gist's brother. “He died four years before I was born.”
But Boecking and Gist have heard stories of their great-great uncle, who was the brother of their great-grandmother.
Maxwell was an independent man of simple means. He was raised in Kentucky, moved to Ardmore around statehood and built Dornick Hills in 1913, bringing golf to Oklahoma.
Maxwell left the banking business to get into golf architecture. A trip to Scotland with his sister and brother-in-law piqued Maxwell's interests in the great British courses.
He ended up building Southern Hills, Twin Hills, Bartlesville's Hillcrest, Ada's Oak Hills and country clubs in Duncan, Shawnee, Muskogee, Cushing, Ponca City and Lawton. Maxwell teamed with his son, Press, on the famed Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan., and the original OU course in Norman. He teamed with partners on Lincoln Park's second course in OKC and on Fort Worth's famed Colonial. Maxwell also helped with renovations at some of America's most revered courses: Augusta National, Pine Valley and Merion.
And now, almost a century later, his descendants and other Oklahomans play golf courses that have stood the test of time.
“I love the cliff hole (No. 16) at Dornick Hills,” Gist said. “Southern Hills is just hard and long. Especially 18. ‘Are we ever going to get up this hill?'”
Maxwell built golf courses before heavy machinery was used to move earth. Maxwell built his courses along the lay of the land, which makes the “Hills” of Southern Hills and Dornick Hills and Twin Hills so special.
“It's so fun to play them,” Gist said. “I'll be at a hole and sometimes wonder if Perry Maxwell knew these trees would be this big and be this kind of obstacle.” Maxwell built most of these great holes when the state was young; Oklahoma's trees weren't all that mighty in the 1920s.
The man had vision for the game of golf. Perry Maxwell gave Oklahoma a precious gift with his talent for building courses. Monday night, Oklahoma helped repay that gift.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.