Born in Austin, Illinois, William B. Langford grew up fighting childhood polio. As part of the rehabilitation process, Langford was introduced to the game of golf. He would develop into a top amateur golfer and was a member of a three-time NCAA Championship team at Yale University.
After receiving his Master’s degree in Mining Engineering at Columbia University, Langford headed back to Illinois and formed a partnership with engineer Theodore J. Moreau in Chicago. From the 1920’s to World War II, this partnership was active in the course design and construction business. When the Langford and Moreau firm dissolved in the early 1940’s, Langford decided to go solo in his practice until the 1960’s, when he retired to Florida. Langford estimated that he had designed 250 courses and had up to 80 men employed by his firm.
Langford was extremely meticulous in his work and followed specific guidelines. An example was that Langford made charts for the surface drainage patterns and their relationship to the reception of shots to the green. Langford was also a great believer in natural design, explaining, “If you abandon a golf course today and come back to the site in 20 years, the course should not be apparent.”
Langford was one of the 14 founding members of ASGCA in 1947 and served as ASGCA President in 1951-1952 and 1963-1964. He served as an ASGCA member for 29 years until his death in 1977.