Bill Wright: Black Golf Pioneer, Taught at AHS
Anacortes was one short stop in the career of a links legend, the late Bill Wright (1936-2021), famous for breaking through the color barrier of 20th Century professional golf in America. While he was attending Western Washington University, he was a student teacher at Anacortes High School in the spring of 1960 – the first Black teacher in the Anacortes School District.
The Anacortes American featured an article headlined “Bill Wright ‘Right’ On Links or Hoop” in the May, 5, 1960 newspaper, stating: “it is an honor and a privilege to have him teaching here.”
Anacortes American - Thursday, May 5, 1960
Bill Wright “Right” On Links or Hoop
Anacortes has added another to its list of teachers who have made a name for themselves in athletics. The addition is Bill Wright, who needs no introduction to sport fans who are accustomed to reading the sport page of their newspapers.
Bill not only is the only Negro to win a national golf title of importance (he won the National Public Links title in 1959) but has won All-State acclaim in prep basketball and has played Anacortes’ favor sport with such greats as Elgin Baylor and Bruno Boin.
Bill attended Franklin High School of Seattle, and in 1954, along with Bruno Boin, he helped pace the Quakers to the Washington High School basketball championship. His father was a very fine golfer and encouraged Bill to golf in high school where he was No. 2 man his junior year and No. 1 man his senior year, when he won the city title.
After graduation, Bill entered UW, and while here he played basketball with Westside Ford and Elgin Baylor of the Northwest AAU League. The next year (’57) he starred with the Buchan Bakers. During the two years he was at Huskyville, Bill did not play any golf. Yet he came back two years later to win the Public Links Open in Denver.
Bill is currently attending Western Washington College at Bellingham, and is using his time spent here as a student teacher in PE to enable him to get his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education. He went out for golf at Western because they had a good team, and after a two year absence from the links he still managed to win a trip to Beaumont, Texas, to compete in the NAIA small college golf tourney. There against a highly competitive field, he placed a very commendable seventh. All this after a two year layoff which would ruin many a player’s game. This certainly speaks for Bill’s great skill in golf.
Golf wasn’t the only sport Bill excelled in at Western. Wright was the start of Western basketball teams in ’58 and ’59 averaging 12 points a game in ’58 and 21 points a game in conference play in ’59.
A salute to Bill Wright; it is an honor and a privilege to have him teaching here, and it certainly enhances the great Anacortes athletic reputation.