Elbin, Max (1987)

About Elbin, Max (1987)

1920-2008.  Max Elbin entered the MAPGA Hall of Fame for his leadership of the Middle Atlantic PGA and for steering the National PGA through not only of the most difficult times, but also one of the most rapidly changing eras in professional golf, the late 1960s.

Max Elbin and his brother started in golf by shagging balls and carrying “Sunday bags” at Cumberland CC in 1930.  By thirteen Max was playing the game and in short order won the Cumberland CC Caddie Tournament in 1936.   He also won the City Championship.   At Allegany High School, where he was the Class President, Max played basketball, soccer, baseball and ran on the track team before graduating in 1938.  His sports achievements brought him basketball and golf scholarship offers from the University of Baltimore.

Max turned professional in 1940 as an assistant for Lew Worsham at Burning Tree Club.  He worked for Worsham during the summer months and then with Bob Barnett at Indian Creek Country Club in Miami over the winters.

After two years at Burning Tree he joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.  The military initially assigned him to the U.S. Army Air Corps Headquarters Technical Training Command.  From there he served with the Flying Training Command in Texas, and ultimately landed in the Pacific Far East Theater with a B-25 group where he saw the War upfront in New Guinea, the Philippines and eventually in Tokyo.

After the War, he returned to Burning Tree, but by that time Worsham’s interest had turned to the PGA Tour.  The story goes that in May 1946 Lew went off to play the Philadelphia Inquirer Open leaving Max in charge.  Lew didn’t return.  For nearly fifty years he tended to the club’s membership, became an integral of the MAPGA’s leadership cadre, and the advanced through the ranks of the National PGA ultimately becoming President.

His “organizational” career began as the Section’s Publicity Committee Chair in 1949, followed by chairmanship of the Tournament Committee (1952 and 1953), Regional Vice President in 1954, and ended with Presidential terms in 1956, 1957 and 1958.  When the Section expanded their “Executive Committee” in 1963 from 8 to 11 members Max won one of the three new slots which he continued to hold for several years.  At the time, his contribution to the Section involved the development of a standard “PGA Professional’s Employment” contract that was widely used for many years.  The Section selected him as the MAPGA Professional of the Year in 1962.

From the top position in the Section, Max started out on the path that led to the National PGA Presidency.  He was elected to National PGA Treasurer in 1964, Secretary in 1965, and President in 1966 – 1968.  Max steered the PGA during one of its difficult periods, the mid 1960s when the “touring pros” splintered toward their own organization.  During that time he also oversaw the development of arrangements with the television industry by guiding the negotiations of the first TV contract.  Furthermore, he was instrumental in early PGA educational efforts by hiring their first Educational Director.

As a Head PGA Professional he tutored many young professionals who went on to become prominent in their own right.  By the time he retired in 1995, some 39 of his assistants had moved up in the ranks.

The PGA recognized Max Elbin as a “Legend” in 1995, becoming the first Past President so honored.  In 1997, the Middle Atlantic Golf Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Max also received the Richardson Award in 1967, the highest honor bestowed by the Golf Writers’ Association of America.  He also received the Washington Touchdown’s Club “Timmie” Award.  He played with, or taught golf to, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Bush.

The MAPGA Head Professional Championship trophy is named in honor of Max Elbin. (rev. 2009)