Cherry Hills Country Club oozes with history: 10 USGA championships, including three U.S. Opens and this week’s third U.S. Amateur. Denver Country Club, about 5 miles from Cherry Hills, has hosted a Curtis Cup and a U.S. Junior Amateur. But even closer to Cherry Hills – less than 2 miles away – is Wellshire Golf Course, a city-owned facility and the site of momentous golf history in 1959.
Wellshire hosted two U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships, and the second one was captured by William “Bill” Wright, who became the first Black champion in USGA history at age 23 with his 3-and-2 triumph over Frank Campbell on July 18, 1959. Wright learned the game at Jefferson Park in his hometown of Seattle, Wash.
Wright competed in Colorado again later that summer in the 1959 U.S. Amateur at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, where he played a practice round with Jack Nicklaus, Charles “Chick” Evans and Deane Beman. Nicklaus won that U.S. Amateur to launch his legendary career. Wright, who went on to become a golf instructor and competed in one U.S. Open and five U.S. Senior Opens, died on Feb. 21, 2021, at age 84 in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles.