LostGolfBalls.com BLOG

Information and tips on everything golf ball related from the largest recycler of used golf balls in the world

All Posts

Lexi Thompson in women's golf



When Lexi Thompson (Maxfli Tour) announced a couple weeks ago her intention to retire at the end of 2024, it became news in the golf world but barely caused a significant ripple in the global sports world.

Which is a shame because it should have for so many reasons, including why she is leaving the game at such a young age.

Thompson has done a lot in her career, though she is only 29, which seems rather young for any athlete to retire. She established herself as a prodigy at the age of 12 becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. Three years later, she turned pro and signed lucrative sponsorship deals with global brands. She was considered the next Michelle Wie, a young, tall and good-looking American with so much talent and poise.

Shortly thereafter, Thompson became the youngest player at that time to win an LPGA event. At age 19, she became the second-youngest player to win a major – the Kraft Nabisco Championship, now known as the Chevron Championship – and placed second in three others. Overall, she has won 15 pro

tournaments, 11 on the LPGA Tour. In 2017, she won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the LPGA Tour, and the Race to the CME Globe for the most points earned in tournament that season. She won at least one tournament every year between 2013-2019. She has represented the USA in six Solheim Cups and two Olympic Games.

“While it is never easy to say goodbye, it is indeed time,” she announced on her Instagram page with a letter and video.

“I’m excited to enjoy the remainder of the year as there are still goals to accomplish. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life – time with family, friends and my trusted companion Leo (her dog).

“I will always look for ways to contribute to the sport and inspire the next generation of golfers and, of course, I look forward to a little time for myself.”

Thompson’s legacy to the sport must be viewed in the context of far more than just what she did on the course. It’s also about her openness in describing the loneliness and pressure she faced, well before

professional sports totally understood mental health and happiness and provided resources to achieve both. Think about when she had a win taken away in 2017 in the ANA Inspiration when she was docked four strokes for improper ball placement (by an inch) and incorrectly signing her scorecard. The infraction was picked up by someone watching on TV and forwarded via email to the LPGA fan website during the final round. Thus, her scorecard for the previous day was incorrect. She showed remarkable poise when informed during the final round of the infraction. She lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu (Titleist Pro V1) but won the hearts of fellow players and fans.

What her retirement signifies is an athlete’s career is on borrowed time. It could end because of age, health, passion or results, or a combination of some or all of them. There are numerous stories of athletes who rose to prominence in their teens and retired 15-20 years later. Many times the sport they loved and craved so much in their youth loses its appeal as they became adults and developed other interests or are not as motivated compared to their younger days. That’s life.

From the outside, it seems as if these people live glorious lives and are richly rewarded. For some that is true, but certainly not for all. In the case of women’s professional golf, and I’ve written this before, the prize money is low, certainly in comparison to women’s pro tennis, where the winners compete for the same prize money as the men in majors.

Women’s golf has seen some noticeable gains in the last few years through increased sponsorship. That’s great.

Thompson has had a rich career, literally and figuratively, having won more than $14 million, about $800,000 a year on average, and that doesn’t include endorsement money. This year she has won less than $130,000 and has only one top-10 finish, a tie for third in the Ford Championship presented by KCC, in seven tournaments. She has missed the cut in five of them, including the last four. Last year in 18 tournaments, she finished with top-10 finishes, but missed eight cuts. In 2022, she had four second-place finishes in 18 tournaments, missing the cut four times.

Clearly, she is not getting the results, and sometimes that happens when you are a child prodigy and you peak, and then others catch up to you. Nowadays players on the LPGA Tour have benefitted from quality coaching, equipment and infrastructure to help achieve optimal results.

Good luck to Lexi Thompson as she moves forward toward the end of her career and moves on to something new.

Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

Related Posts