Phyllis Semple, Class of 2023
By Mike Dudurich • November 2, 2023
She was the proud mother of a daughter who became known as the queen of women’s amateur golf in the United States.
And when she wasn’t following and reveling in the exploits of that daughter, Carol Semple Thompson, Phyllis Semple made quite a name for herself on golf courses near and far.
She has been recognized at all levels of the game and tonight receives the ultimate recognition, induction into the West Penn Golf Association Hall of Fame.
Phyllis Semple didn’t get interested in golf until she met her future husband, Harton “Bud” Semple at age 19.
One thing led to another – marriage, children and that introduction to golf that took hold in a big way.
“It was hard for her, especially early,” Semple Thompson, who registered her first major victory against her mom in the WGAWP Championship in 1965 at age 16 when she defeated her mother at Sewickley Heights, said. “She had five kids and once she got into golf, she practiced a lot. And obviously that paid off.”
In a big way, one could argue.
Her accomplishments were no doubt impressive as she was doing them, but looking back, they take on an even brighter shine.
• She was the Women’s Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania’s Player of the Decade for the 1950s and 1960s.
• She won the WGAWP Championship six times: at Longue Vue (1954), at Edgewood (1955), at Fox Chapel (1957), at Edgewood (1958), at Chartiers (1961) and at Green Oaks (1963).
• She was runner-up in that championship in 1956, 1964, 1965 and 1969.
• She won the PA Championship in 1964 at Merion and was runner-up three times: 1955, 1962 and 1963.
• She also won the Pa. State Golf Association Senior Championship.
• She played in numerous U.S, Women’s Amateurs and qualified for match play 11 times, including making it to the quarterfinals in 1964.
• She finished third in the 1971 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur.
• She won a U.S. Senior Championship.
• She won a North and South Senior Championship.
• She was captain of the Women’s U.S. World Amateur Team in Portugal in 1976.
• Off the golf course, she was president of the Pennsylvania State Golf Association, was on the board of the Women’s Eastern Golf Association and Women’s Western Golf Association.
• She was a member of the USGA’s Women’s Committee for 15 years and on the USGA’s Museum Committee for 10 years.
• In recognition of her golf achievements, the WGAWP made her an honorary member in 1975.
If those aren’t the credentials of a Hall of Famer, I’m not sure what are.
Someone mentioned at some point during her career, “Phyllis is very good at golf.”
Those sort of understatements don’t come along routinely, but she wasn’t a routine lady by any measurement.
She loved playing, competing and yes, winning.
But she also loved watching her daughter playing, competing and winning.
“She walked, rode a scooter and a cart when that was allowed,” Semple Thompson remembered. “She was so interested in my career.”
After her final win in the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, this one at Mid-Pines in Pinehurst, she and her mom had one of those unforgettable mother-daughter moments.
“She was able to ride in the cart with me, which was special, and I was so happy with the win,” Semple Thompson remembered. “We got in the car and she congratulated me again and then said, ‘You need to get a lesson. There are a couple things you could work on. …’”
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and nearly 37,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.