First African-American USGA champ Wright passes away

Updated: April 5, 2021

Bill Wright, who was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2013 after a career which included being the first Black golfer to win a USGA national championship, passed away at 84.

Wright was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and his family moved west when he was 12. He started playing golf at 14, joining the Fir State Golf Club’s junior program at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Fir State was established in 1947 to combat discriminatory practices and, at the same time, to promote access to golf within the minority community. An important part of the club’s mission was to stimulate interest and participation of young people in the game.

Wright was introduced to the game by his parents, Bob and Madeline, who were early members of Fir State. Bill was one of the first participants in Fir State’s junior golf program in the 1950s, and within a year after picking up the game he was the city’s Junior champion.