John Craig Williamson in a tux
John Craig Williamson. Courtesy of his family

John Craig Williamson died peacefully following a short illness on July 23, in Palm Desert, California, at the age of 88.

Photo of John Craig Williamson in a shirt with a flower pattern
John Craig Williamson. Courtesy of his family

Born in Evanston, Illinois, on Feb. 26, 1935, to John Paul “Jack” Williamson and Marbry Henning Williamson, Craig moved with his family to Berkeley in 1942 when his father was hired as the Head Athletic Trainer for UC Berkeley’s athletic department. He attended school in Berkeley from the age of 7 and graduated in 1953 from Berkeley High, where he played basketball, baseball and golf. From 1953-54, he attended UC Berkeley where he pledged Sigma Nu. Though he didn’t graduate from Cal he bled blue until the end and was always happy to discuss the current state of Cal’s football and basketball teams. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954-1956 and was stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where he played basketball for the U.S. Army team.

Upon his return to the U.S, he began his career as a golf professional, first at Tilden Park and later at Castlewood Country Club. He married his first wife, Susan Lamberth, in Orinda in 1957 and welcomed their daughter Kristi Anne in 1960. Craig was hired as the Director of Golf at Silverado Country Club in Napa in 1962 and was instrumental in its growth from a small local country club to the destination resort that it became and remains today. He earned his PGA of America membership in 1962. Soon after their move to Napa, Craig and Susan welcomed their son, John Craig “Jay” Williamson, Jr.  Craig and Susan’s marriage ended in the early 1970s.

In 1975 Craig moved to Maui, Hawaii where he was the first Director of Golf at the new Kapalua Resort.  He remained at Kapalua for more than 10 years and while there he was named the PGA Pro of the Year in 1983 and awarded the PGA National Merchandiser of the Year in 1985. While living in Hawaii he married his second wife, Sharon Neet, in 1980.

Other stops in a long and accomplished career as a golf professional included leadership positions at Ko Olina in Hawaii, where he was once again named the PGA National Merchandiser of the Year in 1992; Chardonnay in Napa; Blackhawk Country Club in Danville; and Broken Top in Bend, Oregon. 

An accomplished athlete, he was also known as an exceptional teacher and a mentor to numerous friends and employees that chose golf as their career path. He remained a consultant in the golf industry for more than 30 years and served on the Advisory Boards of both Lynx and Maxfli. Craig was known as someone who “thought outside the box” and who’s dedication and passion for golf impacted the world-wide golf community.

One of the highlights of his life was his role as an “Ambassador” to the Links Players International, a group that reaches behind the walls of country clubs for Christ.  Craig was proud to embrace and follow the teachings of his personal Savior, Jesus Christ.

Craig is survived by his wife Sharon of Palm Desert; his daughter Kristi Mitchell (Clay) of Piedmont, CA and son Jay Williamson (Renay) of Napa, CA; his sister Marni Todaro (Ron); his 5 grandsons, John Craig “Jack” Williamson III, Clark Williamson, Sam Williamson, Bingham Mitchell and Cutter Mitchell; and nephews Ryan, Jason and Braden Todaro.

Craig’s life will be celebrated privately with family.

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