Despite turning 41-years-old at the end of the year, Tyler Wright has had a Hall of Fame worthy amateur golf career. The Regina product is one of three inductees that will be enshrined into the Saskatchewan Hall later this month in Saskatoon.
Wright was an active child living in the Queen City playing sports 12 months of the year including golf, a pastime he picked up from his grandpa Louie who lived a few doors down the street. Grandpa Louie made Wright a set of clubs from some of his dad’s clubs and he’d hit balls in the backyard or alley when he was about six or seven years old. When Wright was nine he attended a junior clinic at the Regent Par 3 course that included a couple rounds at the Royal Regina Golf Club (RRGC) under the tutelage of Joe Trudell. As they say, the rest is history. Wright got his first membership at the Royal when he was 10 and played an estimated 25 to 30 rounds. From the next year through high school he averaged well over 100 rounds per summer. In 1990 he won his first organized tournament and the fire simply burned brighter for him.
“I don’t know if there was ever a conscious moment where I thought I was going to be good at this game until much later,” Wright explained to Golf Saskatchewan. “I started just loving the game and then I started playing tournaments. I won in my eyes, my first significant tournament, the James Tire Junior Invitational was the name of it, it was at the Wascana Country Club. It was provincial class golf course and tournament. I managed to beat Luke Sheard coming down the stretch, I shot 90-90. That was kind of the beginning of when I thought, you know what? I could be pretty good at this game.”
Junior success continued to follow Wright, he won the gold medal at the 1993 Saskatchewan Summer Games and his team won the under-13 gold medal. He began to win his age group around Regina in events and club championships, but his first provincial tournament turned out to be a real ‘watershed’ moment and turning point in his young career in Yorkton.
“It was the first time where I went, well I’m capable of this but if I don’t put the work in,” Wright admitted. “I think that spring I was spending a little more time hanging out with my grade 8 friends and getting ready for that high school transition. Once I came back from that I realized that if I want to do this it’s going to have to be a more of a full commitment.”
He went on to win the Regina High School Championship in 1995, the City Junior Championship in 1997 and the provincial high school gold medal in 1996. Wright also made the Saskatchewan juvenile team in 1995. His provincial high school victory caught the eyes of several American colleges and he chose to attend Idaho State University on a Div. 1 scholarship. Along with the scholarship he was awarded the Leddy-Heywood Scholarship on two occasions. The substantial financial bursary was given to students that excelled at sport and other aspects of high school life. Wright contributed his time playing golf to that accomplishment.
“It’s not meant to be a cliché that golf is a gentleman’s sport. You learn a lot of life lessons, learning to manage yourself in an individual sport like golf is a completely different experience than managing yourself on a team. You have people to pick you up or a coach to take care of you, you have several supports, in golf’s case you don’t have those supports. You must learn to be self confident, to be resilient, when you are struggling on a course, we all know this. When you play you are going to have a bad shot or bad holes, how you respond to that directly correlates with life,” Wright said.
Wright redirected his college career to the University of Regina and played basketball for the Cougars for five seasons while still playing competitive golf in the summers. He is a five-time member of the Saskatchewan Willingdon Cup team (2001, 2005, 14, 15, and 17). He finished in seventh at the Canadian Mid-Amateur Championship in 2015, at that point the highest ever finish for a Saskatchewanian at the mid-am. He bettered that with a fifth-place finish at the Wascana in 2017. A lengthy list of wins kept piling up in and around Regina as well including just this year when he won the second provincial Mid-Master’s (40+) title at the RRGC. Wright was already selected for the Hall before that win given his success. When he heard the news from SGHOF secretary Brian Lee, he was speechless.
“You wish to leave a legacy in all walks of life,” he said. “In this case leaving a legacy in a sense for my family, friends, and children making the Hall is hard to put into words. I dreamed of winning golf tournaments and fortunately the legacy has resulted with me being honoured with this induction, it’s very special. When Brian called me it was absolute elation,” he beamed.
Wright will be enshrined along with fellow Wascana member and mentor Randy Gilewich and Gary Brandon on Sept. 21 at the Riverside Country Club. He said going in with those two and joining the prestigious list of past inductees is remarkable.
“There is so many of them that have supported me and sent their congratulations,” he said. “Guys that you emulate, you want to be like. You probably want to compete with them in tournaments and beat them in tournaments, to be in the Hall with them is very special. Those individuals will forever be people I aspire to be like on and off the golf course.”
Wright was able to win his most recent event this summer with his daughters Scarlett and Indyana at his side along with his wife Jennifer. His father, Larry was his caddy and his mother walked the grounds of the Royal showing her support. Wright said their support has been immeasurable through out his career and life and any future wins is more about them than his own selfishness.
“I don’t think it’s as much about modelling the winning, of course I want to win, of course I will set those goals, of course I’m going to play provincial tournaments and represent Golf Saskatchewan at national tournaments. I think it’s the process to get there that needs to be modelled. The practice I put in I think is something that I think is of the most value to children. It’s what I valued as a young kid,” he said.
Wright is currently the vice-principal at O’Neill High School in Regina. He was inducted into the Regina Sports Hall of Fame alongside his father in 1995.
Tickets for the gala in Saskatoon are on sale now and available here.
You can hear much more from Wright who spoke with Golf Saskatchewan’s Clark Stork following the announcement.