Jefferson Park to be renamed Bill Wright Golf Complex

The Seattle Parks & Recreation board of commissioners has announced that Jefferson Park Golf Course will be renamed as the Bill Wright Golf Complex.

Bill Wright

A special committee has been established and has been tasked with creating a permanent memorial for Wright in front of and inside the clubhouse, and initiating a capital campaign for a memorial installation on October 10, 2024, the 65th anniversary of Wright winning the 1959 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

(For details about the memorial and how to volunteer, contact Kathy Colombo at [email protected].)

Opened in 1915 as the first municipal golf course in the state, Jefferson Park was an immediate hit with the public golfers in the region, with the course having over 100,000 rounds played each year by 1922.

Save these dates:

  • June 19th, 7:30am-7:30pm – Come celebrate Pacific Northwest Black golf & Bill Wright at the Juneteenth Golf Tournament at Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent, Wash.
  • July 13th, 7:30 AM-9:00 PM, Celebration & Kick-Off Fundraiser for Bill Wright Renaming. Contact Kathy Colombo for details.

Wright started playing golf at age 14, joining the Fir State Golf Club’s junior program at Jefferson Park.

By winning the 1959 U.S. Amateur Public Links, Wright became the first African American to win a USGA national championship. (USGA Museum)

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.

Bill Wright (back row, second from left; with wife Ceta) returned to Jefferson Park GC in 2009 for “Bill Wright Day,” conducting a clinic for current members of the Fir State Junior Golf program (pictured) where he got started in the game in the 1950s.

By winning the 1959 U.S. Amateur Public Links, Wright became the first African American to win a USGA national championship.

Bill earned athletic honors in golf and basketball at Western Washington State College (now University), winning the NAIA collegiate individual golf championship in 1960, and is a member of WWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He competed in the 1959 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 1959 Hudson Cup team. He briefly ventured onto the professional tour, and played in the 1966 U.S. Open. He qualified for five U.S. Senior Opens, and has been enshrined in the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.

The USGA, WA Golf, First Tee of Greater Seattle and Jefferson Park GC declared October 10, 2009 as “Bill Wright Day” to honor the 50th anniversary of Bill’s historic victory in the U.S. Amateur Public Links, with a celebration held at Jefferson Park.

In 2023, Wright was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame. He passed away on Feb 19, 2021. He was 84.