The 2015 Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Nominees

perry-maxwellPerry Maxwell

A golf course architect whose greatest achievements were arguably Southern Hills in Tulsa, OK; and Prairie Dunes, Hutchinson, KS. Maxwell said in an article published late in his life 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, including at least 30 layouts in Oklahoma. Most of his designs in Oklahoma are remarkably consistent: simple lines with most holes pretty straight and doglegs around 45 degrees, and then his greens had his trademark rolls. Maxwell had simple bunkers early in his career – not the standard saucers you see at Southern Hills, but also not the blown-out bunkers design.”

Maxwell was originally a banker who had an interest in golf and golf course architecture. In 1919, his wife died from appendicitis.  She had encouraged his dream of becoming a golf architect so he made a trip to Scotland to tour the top courses including the Old Course at St. Andrew’s. This happened to be the time when Maxwell met the legendary Alister Mackenzie and arranged a partnership that would lead to quite a few great projects together. Maxwell returned and went into practice as a golf course architect full time using the contacts he made at the bank to help finance design contacts. It was those contacts, particularly with oil companies, that would keep him very busy even when the rest of the architects were struggling to find work.

Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, the host of three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships (first course to ever host 4 PGAs), may have been his greatest creation. Maxwell believed in moving as little as possible and building his courses at minimal expense. He took what the ground offered and made that a key element in the design, understanding that the rolls and undulations would be enough to confound most good players. Southern Hills’ front nine is a perfect example of that theory. The first four holes play counter clockwise making an interesting use of both the hill and creek. The next five holes are clockwise around the outside finishing again on the main hill. No two holes in same direction because of the winds and no two holes anything alike. He realized that strong winds limited the player’s options, so even in his architecture he created opportunities for players to still hit fairways and green with a lower flight. The bunkering was also brought to the side to catch the wayward, rather than in front to penalize the short.

“It is my theory that nature must precede the architect, in the laying out of links. It is futile to attempt the transformation of wholly inadequate acres into an adequate course. Invariably the result is the inauguration of an earthquake. The site of a golf course should be there, not brought there.” – Perry Maxwell.

Another icon in golf architecture, Bill Coore said Maxwell’s greens were so well thought of that he was invited to rebuild greens at courses including Augusta National and Pine Valley.

McKenzie himself may have summed up Maxwell’s life’s work best: “Mr. Maxwell speaks of my ability to make a good fairway or develop a worthy green, but I wish to tell you that in laying out a golf course and to give it everything that the science and art of golf demand, Mr. Maxwell is not second to anyone I know.”

Solo Designs in Oklahoma 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
Cushing Country Club, Cushing, Oklahoma, 1929
Ponca City Country Club (redesign), Ponca City, Oklahoma, 1929
Brookside Golf Course, Oklahoma City, 1934
Mohawk Park Golf Course, Tulsa, 1934
Oak Hills Golf & Country Club, Ada, Oklahoma, 1935
Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, 1935-36
Blackwell Municipal Golf Course, Blackwell, Oklahoma, 1939
Lawton Country Club, Lawton, Oklahoma, 1948

Co-Designed with Art Jackson
Lincoln Park Golf Course (second course), Oklahoma City, 1926
Co-Designed with Alister Mackenzie
Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club*, Oklahoma City, 1927

*co-design in contract only
Co-Designed with Press Maxwell 

Oakwood Country Club, Enid, Oklahoma, 1947-48
University of Oklahoma Golf Course, Norman, 1950
Lake Hefner Golf Course, Oklahoma City, 1951 

Renovations by Perry Maxwell 
Lincoln Park Golf Course (green renovation), Oklahoma City, 1926
Dornick Hills Golf & Country Club (three holes), Ardmore, Oklahoma, 1936
Oaks Country Club (six holes), Tulsa, 1936
Twin Hills (greens), Oklahoma City, 1939

Oklahoma State Library
The Caddy Shack Blog

charlie-coeCharlie Coe

Golfer Charles Robert “Charlie” Coe, was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on October 26, 1923 and stands tall with Bobby Jones as one of the greatest amateur golfers of all time. In 1941 he won the Oklahoma state championship as an Ardmore High School golfer. He played for the University of Oklahoma (OU), winning three Big Seven conference championships, 1946-48, all three years he was entered. Coe won the U.S. Amateur in 1949, beating Rufus King 11 & 10 in the finals, and won it again in 1958 with a 5 & 4 victory over Tommy Aaron. He finished runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1959 tournament. Coe won the Western Amateur in 1950, and made the finals of the British Amateur in 1951, losing to Dick Chapman. He won four Trans-Mississippi Amateurs (1947, 1949, 1952, and 1956). He played on six Walker Cup teams from 1949 to 1963, including playing captain on the 1959 team, and was non-playing captain on a seventh team in 1957.

Coe made 19 Masters Tournament appearances and owns almost every Masters amateur record, including most cuts made (15); top-24 finishes (9); top-10 finishes (3); eagles (6), rounds played (67) and most times low amateur (6). Coe won low amateur honors at Augusta in four consecutive decades: 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He also holds the amateur records for best finish (2nd in 1961), lowest third round score (67 in 1959), and lowest 72-hole score (281 in 1961). In 1961, Coe rallied in the final round from six shots down to finish one stroke behind Gary Player.

In 1964, Coe received the Bob Jones Award, given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.

When he died, the Rocky Mountain News quoted a Castle Pines golf club member saying, “Charlie Coe was an amateur at everything except life.”

The Charlie Coe Golf Center at the University of Oklahoma is named in his honor. OU President David Boren: “Coe is an OU alumnus respected not only as one of the greatest figures in the game of golf, but also as a person of strong character and personal generosity who is an inspiring role model for young people.”

Oklahoma State Library
New York Times

gil-morganGil Morgan

Gilmer Bryan Morgan II, OD was born in Wewoka, Oklahoma, in 1946 and now lives in Edmond. He graduated from East Central State College in Ada, Oklahoma in 1968. In 1972, Morgan earned a Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee before turning professional at golf later that year.  Morgan won seven events on the PGA Tour between 1977 and 1990. He was also one of the most consistent top five finishers during this period. The most prestigious tournament he won on the PGA Tour was the 1978 World Series of Golf. He also played on the 1979 and 1983 Ryder Cup teams.

Morgan was known for playing tournaments with little or no practice. He was exceptional at “playing cold”.

Although he never won a major title during his time on the PGA Tour, Morgan showed signs of brilliance, finishing third twice in the PGA Championship and once in the Masters and U.S. Open. For example, during the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Morgan became the first player to ever reach 10-under-par during U.S. Open competition when he recorded a birdie on the third hole during the third round. He later added two more birdies to reach 12-under after the seventh hole and had the 54-hole lead. Morgan also led the 1976 PGA Championship after 36 holes.

Morgan won more than $5 million on the PGA Tour.

When he became eligible to play on the Champions Tour he enjoyed much success, notching 25 wins, which is good enough for third all-time (behind only Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino) and winning Rookie of the Year in 1997. Three senior major wins, The Tradition in 1997 and 1998 and the Senior Players Championship in 1998.

He received the Byron Nelson award on the Seniors Tour in 2000 and 2001.
Morgan has 40 professional wins total, seven on the PGA Tour, two Oklahoma Open wins, one on the Japan Tour, 25 on the Seniors Champions Tour and three others in Seniors events. He earned about $5 million in his PGA Tour career and more than $20 million on the Seniors circuit.

Matched his age at 64 in shooting a 64 at the Toshiba Classic in 2011. “I was playing with Trevino that day and he told me how nervous he was when he first did it (shot his age). I was not aware I’d done it until I saw the number on the card. I knew I had a good round going and it was probably just as well I didn’t know. I had a putt (six-footer) on the final hole to do it.”

Always a goodwill ambassador for the state of Oklahoma, his hometown course in Wewoka has named their city course the Dr. Gil Morgan Municipal Golf Course in his honor.

organ has amazingly accomplished nine holes in one. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1982. He is a huge Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Little known fact: Even though Morgan got his medical degree in optometry, he has poor eye sight, and incredibly, has bad depth perception on the golf course.

Alabama Media

Mike Holder

Born in Odessa, Texas, on August 17, 1948, James Michael “Mike” Holder attended high school in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he lettered in golf for three years and earned conference medalist honors in 1966. In 1968 he captured the Oklahoma Amateur Championship. He attended Oklahoma State University, lettering three years in golf and earning a degree in marketing (1970) and a master’s degree (1973). Holder captured the Big Eight Conference individual medalist title in 1970 and was named third-team All-American in 1969 and 1970 and honorable-mention All-American in 1968.

In 1973 Holder succeeded Labron Harris, Sr., as OSU head golf coach. During the first 28 years of his tenure Holder coached Oklahoma State teams to eight national championships and 24 team titles in the Big Eight (21) and Big 12 (three). His 21 Big Eight conference team titles in golf, put Holder in second to basketball’s Phog Allen of Kansas (24) in total Big Eight titles. In his first 28 seasons Holder coached 101 All-American selections, 20 conference individual titlists, and five NCAA individual champions. During 55 seasons under Harris and Holder Oklahoma State qualified for every NCAA championship (1947-2001) and also made the cut at every NCAA championship both NCAA records. During Holder’s tenure OSU has produced two Ben Hogan Award winners, two Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year winners, and five Fred Haskins Player of the Year winners. In the early 1990s Holder raised funds from private donors to build Karsten Creek Golf Course, west of Stillwater, as the home course for the OSU golf teams. Karsten Creek was named best new public course in the nation by Golf Digest magazine.

Recognized as a 2013 finalist for National Athletic Director of the Year in the Sports Business Awards by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, Holder is a central figure in OSU’s current athletic resurgence. He was named Vice President for Athletic Programs and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Oklahoma State University on Sept. 16, 2005. During his tenure as AD, OSU has finished the highest it has ever been nationally ranked at the end of any football season, when it just missed going to the national championship game in 2010. He has been instrumental in overseeing the creation of OSU’s “Athletic Village,” and through its construction, created from millions of dollars from booster T. Boone Pickens, has attracted many of the top recruits from around the country to play in Stillwater. OSU’s athletic teams have won five more NCAA championships under his watch, raising the school’s total to 51, fourth best in the country.

He and his wife, Robbie, illustrated their commitment to Oklahoma State when they donated $500,000 for the first fully endowed scholarship for Cowboy football. The scholarship is named for former OSU player, the late Vernon Grant. The Holders’ lifetime giving to OSU surpasses $2.5 million, including $1 million for an entrepreneurship super chair at OSU in the Spears School of Business.

OSU set new school records for football season ticket sales in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, reaching nearly 49,000 in 2012.

Oklahoma State

Nancy Lopez

Nancy Marie Lopez (born January 6, 1957) became a star in her two seasons at the University of Tulsa and continued that success professionally, and is considered one of the greatest women’s golfers of all time. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1977 and won three major championships. Also, like her counterpart on the PGA Tour, Jim Furyk, is known for her trademark hitch in her swing.

Lopez won her first tournament when she was nine years old, finishing 110 strokes better than her nearest opponent. All throughout her early career as a youngster, she carried one other accessory her competitors didn’t – a trash can. She would get so nervous, playing competitively, that she would have to throw up during her rounds. Her father told her she had to get over that and Lopez did, being named All-American and Female Athlete of the Year for her play at the University of Tulsa, even though when Dale McNamara offered her a full scholarship, Lopez had no idea where Tulsa was. She wanted to go to Arizona State, but the school would not offer a full ride. Tulsa was the benefactor for ASU’s mistake because she won the individual medalist trophy at the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Championship and was a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup and World Amateur teams. She left college after her sophomore year and turned pro. That year she finished second in the U.S. Women’s Open.

In 1978, her first full season on the LPGA Tour, Lopez won nine tournaments, including at one stretch, five tournaments in a row.

Little known fact: During that five-tournament streak, she almost quit golf. Going for her fifth win in a row an accident happened during her first round in Rochester, N.Y. that made her consider hanging up the golf clubs for good and never touching them again. An errant drive struck dentist Gerry Mesalella, a spectator, in the head, and unnerved Lopez completely.

“He was bleeding a little bit,” Lopez said. “If I would have injured him in any way or killed him, I don’t think I would have been playing golf anymore. I was crying. Now we are good friends.” For years, she had dinner together with Mesalella and his wife once a year.
She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, LPGA Rookie of the Year, LPGA Player of the Year and was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. She won another eight times in 1979. She won multiple times in each year from 1980 to 1984, although she played only half-seasons in 1983 and 1984 due to the birth of her first child.

Playing full-time again in 1985, Lopez posted five wins, five seconds and five thirds, won the money title, the scoring title and the Player of the Year Award. She was also named Associate Press Female Athlete of the Year for a second time. She played only four tournaments in 1986, when her second daughter was born. But came back to win multiple times in 1987-89 – three times each in 1988 and 1989 – and once again won Player of the Year honors in 1988. Her schedule was curtailed again in the early 1990s when her third daughter was born. In 1992 she won twice. She continued to play short schedules – from 11 to 18 tournaments – through 2002, then in 2003 cut back to just a half dozen or fewer events a year before officially retiring. She unretired about five years later and failed to win a tournament.

Won the LPGA Championship three times (1978, 1985, and 1989) and finished as runner-up in the U.S. Women’s Open four times and second three times in the du Maurer Classic, also a major on the LPGA Tour. Won 52 tournaments professionally. Lopez was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987. She was a member of the United States Solheim Cup team in 1990 and was captain of the team in 2005. Lopez is the only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and the Vare Trophy in the same season (1978).

She is involved with charity events and philanthropy. Lopez gives her time and has helped raise funding for AIM (Adventures in Movement), an organization that helps mentally challenged, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically handicapped and other children and adults with special needs, and also for Albany Community Hospice in Georgia.


Bill Spiller

Bill Spiller (October 25, 1913 – 1988) was an African-American golfer born in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma as a nine-year-old to live with his father where he quickly learned the drawbacks of being black in America. Spiller was most well known for breaking the color barrier for African-American golfers on the PGA of America tour. He didn’t get to play himself, but he busted down the doors for future players.

He didn’t take up the sport of golf until he was about 30. Spiller moved to Southern California to try to make a living teaching, but it wasn’t enough to get by, so he worked as a railroad porter. Spiller took up the challenge of a fellow porter in Los Angeles to try golf.

He started competing and winning blacks-only amateur golf tournaments during the 1940s. After being denied entry in the 1948 Richmond Open held in Richmond, California by the PGA of America, Spiller spent many years challenging the segregation policy of the PGA of America. The professional golf at the time was controlled by the PGA of America which required tournaments to give it final say over who could participate. One of its rules was that participants must be Caucasian. A golfer who was otherwise qualified (such as Spiller) could be denied tournament entry for not being Caucasian.

Spiller sued.  In 1952, the sponsors of the new San Diego Open invited Spiller, unaware of the “Caucasians only” clause. This time he was assisted by fellow invitee and former heavyweight champion Joe Louis. When both men were excluded by president of the PGA of America Horton Smith, Louis took his story to popular newspaper columnist Walter Winchell. The story quickly gained national attention as other newspapers spread the word. Once again, Spiller threatened to sue. Once again, Smith promised to change the rules. This time the PGA of America announced blacks could play, if invited. Some sponsors began inviting blacks, however the segregation clause remained.

In 1960, Spiller’s cause came to the attention of California attorney general (and future California Supreme Court justice) Stanley Mosk. Mosk told the PGA of America it would not be allowed to use public courses. At the time, most tournaments were held on public courses. When the PGA of America replied that it would restrict itself to private courses, Mosk promised to stop that as well. Furthermore, he began contacting state attorneys general around the country. He finally won his cause in 1961 but he was well past his prime by then, but every African American who has played on the Tour since, owes this man a debt of gratitude.

Little known fact:  Spiller played golf for money, sometimes for more than he had in his pocket. He once clipped champion boxer Joe Louis for $7,000 (Bill Spiller Jr. says it was $20,000), with which he bought the house the Spiller family grew up in.

In 2009, the PGA of America granted posthumous membership to Spiller, Ted Rhodes, and John Shippen. The PGA also has granted posthumous honorary membership to Joe Louis.