Rosemary Thompson, a decorated player who won the 1992 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, died on Feb. 1 at the age of 76 in Four Hills, N.M. The cause of death is unknown.
In her adopted home state of New Mexico, Thompson had few peers when it came to her golf exploits. She claimed the Southwestern Golf Association Championship and New Mexico Senior Women’s Championship 13 times apiece. She also won the Albuquerque Women’s City Championship a record 10 times and the Four Hills Country Club women’s championship a remarkable 27 times.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Thompson broke 18 course records from 1972-1997, including a 63 in 1992 on Four Hills Country Club’s women’s red course that still stands today. She also registered 13 holes-in-one.
But her biggest accomplishment came at Tucson (Ariz.) Country Club in the 1992 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. Thompson held off three-time champion Anne Sander by three strokes. Her 54-hole total of 220 – the Senior Women’s Amateur was a 54-hole event at the time – was the lowest winning score in the championship’s stroke-play era (1962-1996).
Thompson also represented New Mexico in the inaugural USGA Women’s State Team Championship in 1995 and again in 1997.
“She was obviously a very accomplished amateur golfer,” Dr. Tom DeCoster, a U.S. Junior Amateur Championship Committee member and Sun Country Amateur Golf Association board member, told the Albuquerque Journal. “Very friendly, confident and a strong competitor. She was gracious in defeat, but that was not frequent. She definitely preferred to win and usually did.”
Thompson was born in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, but honed her game by taking a boat to a club in Montreal. She then attended the University of New Mexico after “she discovered bridge and flunked out of a college in Canada,” Thompson told the Texas Golf Association. Following college, she moved to Amarillo, Texas, in 1972 and began winning statewide events. In 1976, she captured the Women’s Texas Golf Association’s Women’s Publinx, the Women’s West Texas (her third in four years), her third Amarillo City Championship and third club championship.
Two years later, she moved back to New Mexico, where she continued her golf dominance.
Thompson amassed 21 Sun Country Amateur Golf Association titles, including four New Mexico Women’s Amateurs, and was named the SCAGA Golfer of the Year (men and women) in 1985 and 1992. Golf World magazine also named her the Amateur Senior Women’s National Golfer of the Year in 1992.
She has been inducted into the sports halls of fame in Albuquerque, Amarillo/Panhandle of Texas and Cornwall.
A breast cancer survivor, Thompson had endured some health issues in recent years, according to good friend Diane Houston.
“I learned a lot from her, “Houston told the Journal. “She was an outstanding individual on and off the golf course. She was the most competitive person I ever met in my life. I say that in a good way. I played a lot of golf with her. I will miss her.”
Memorial services have yet to be planned and in lieu of flowers, the family has asked donations be made in Thompson’s honor to the National Breast Cancer Organization or the USGA (USGA Foundation, 77 Liberty Corner Road, Liberty Corner, N.J. 07938).
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.