In June of this year the USGA opened the Mickey Wright Room at the USGA Museum in Far HIlls, New Jersey to honor the greatest female player the game has ever known. Previously only three other golfers have been honored with a gallery full of their personal memorabilia-Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and Arnold Palmer. Mickey Wright now joins this elite group and deservedly so.
Mickey Wright won 82 times over her career including 13 major championships. She is the only woman to have ever held all four major titles at one time. She won 10 times in both 1961 and 1962, 13 times in 1963-still the record, and 11 times in 1964. That is 44 tournament titles in four years. Ben Hogan once said she had the finest swing ever in the game. Her domination of the game in her prime was well, Tiger-like.
The gallery exhibit includes over 200 personal artifacts donated by Mickey Wright. They include her worn 1955 bullseye putter with which she won 81 of her 82 titles. Her 1963 Wilson Staff irons she used in all but one of her victories from 1963 on are part of the display. Scrapbooks, trophies, signed magazine articles, family film footage of her hitting balls at age 11, even the contestant badge from the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open where Mickey played as a young amateur with Babe Zaharias are part of the collection.
One of my favorite items donated was a yellow mat that Wright used to shag balls off the her patio onto the 14th fairway of the golf course where she lives. Rhonda Glenn, a USGA historian and long time friend said, “I sat on her patio and watched her….it was a treat…I used to watch Hogan practice when I was a little girl, at Seminole. There was this crack when he hit the ball. I never heard it again until Mickey was hitting balls.”
By creating this gallery in a room next to Arnie’s, the USGA will help educate a golfing populace that knows little of her accomplishments and all she did for women’s golf. Mickey Wright said in an interview, “This is a here and now and forever feeling that honors not just me, but the history of women’s golf. This is also for all the women who came before me…..It is a tribute to their tenancity in making women’s golf a legitimate, recognized national sport”.
In 2010 Mickey Wright was given the Bob Jones Award in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. It is the highest award that the USGA hands out. With the opening of the Mickey Wright Room in Far Hills the USGA furthers that recognition and places her among the all time greats of the game.
If you have never been to the USGA Museum in Far Hills you owe yourself this pleasure-it is a very special place. You now have one more wonderful reason to make the journey.