Carol Semple Thompson after winning the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Championship at Allegheny Country Club

Carol Semple Thompson gains special exemption into U.S. Senior Women's Open
By Mike Dudurich • July 9, 2024

Carol Semple Thompson.

Say the name in golf circles and you’ll most likely get a response that includes “the greatest women’s amateur ever.”

The numbers that the Sewickley native has amassed over her career make a very strong case for that moniker. And it only made sense that the United States Golf Association would give the gracious lady a special exemption into the 6th U.S. Senior Women’s Open which will be held Aug. 1-4 at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

At age 75, she plays mostly recreational golf with friends and doesn’t meet the qualifications to play in the big national events, but her career accomplishments certainly warrant being included in the field.

She is tied for second in most women’s USGA championships won (7), just behind one of her good friends, JoAnne Gunderson Carner. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Thompson has played in the most USGA championships with 121.

Without a doubt, she’ll add the ultimate touch of class to the field of 120 expected to compete.

“Whether I got an exemption or not really didn’t weigh on me at all,” Thompson said. “My game is not where I’d like it to be, and I’ve not been happy with my scores. I am grinding, sort of, to be as ready as I can be. I’ll just be trying not to grind too hard.”

Thompson could have requested a special exemption into the U.S. Senior Women’s Open from the USGA, but never considered it.

“If I would have done that and they’d have given me one, I feel like I would be taking a spot from a younger, more deserving player and I wouldn’t do that,” Thompson said. “I had an inkling this might happen, but that’s all it was, an inkling. It was great when it came, though.”

Thompson said that after the C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational finished last Tuesday, she took a ride around Fox Chapel GC to get a look at how the newest version of the course looks to players.

“So many holes out there are challenging but extremely beautiful,” she said. “And 22 years ago, I didn’t think it was too long. But I’m not as long as I used to be, and the course is definitely longer. So, that makes things a bit more difficult.”

As she spoke about the upcoming competition, Thompson reminisced about what she remembers about Fox Chapel from her younger days.

“I probably played there almost every year in inter-club matches,” she said. “It seems like they had a fair number of local events there each year, too. And the Women’s Western national championship was held there in 1978.”

Her most shining moment, no doubt, at FCGC came in 2002 in the waning moments of the Curtis Cup competition.

Playing in the final group of the day, Thompson’s approach shot into the 18th green found the front edge and left her with a 27-foot uphill putt. She zeroed in on the leg of a spectator as an aim point and drilled the ball into the cup to clinch the win for the United States.

There couldn’t have been a more appropriate way for the event to have ended. It was Thompson’s 12th appearance as a player, and she would captain the team two times.

This will be Thompson’s fourth start in the U.S. Women’s Senior Open.

For media inquiries, please contact WPGA Director of Communications Josh Rowntree.

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 34,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.