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As an elite amateur, I can relate to how Lexi feels

Many were shocked by Lexi’s retirement announcement, but elite Amateur Hannah Holden completely understands her reasons…

 

Lexi Thompson shocked us all this week by announcing she would be retiring from professional golf at the end of this season. The 29-year-old “is looking forward to what life has in store” away from professional golf.

As she makes her 18th US women’s open appearance, it can be easy to forget how long she has been in the limelight and underestimate the toll that takes.

Lexi’s Retirement

Lexi Thompson‘s mental health battles have made the news before, especially when she took a month off after she withdrew from the 2018 AIG Women’s Open after admitting to “not feeling herself.”

I can never claim to be anywhere near the calibre of golfer Lexi Thompson is, but I can relate to her recent struggles and shift of mindset.

Golf can be a lonely sport.

Performing at a high level in golf requires dedicated training and practice hours. However, not everyone wants to beat balls or day, go to the gym at 5 a.m., or spend their weekends at training camps.

Loving golf and choosing to do those things have given me some of the best opportunities in life. But it also comes at a cost: many hours of training on your own, missed social occasions, and the loss of friends who don’t understand the path you are on.

Add in the fact LPGA Tour players are literally flying around the world week in, week out, it is very hard to have a home base and see family and friends.

lexi's retirement

Georgia Hall alluded to this in an AIG Women’s Open press conference last week when asked why there aren’t more British golfers playing on the LPGA Tour.

“They don’t want to live out of a suitcase. I think a lot of people don’t realise that that’s half the battle, not just playing golf. It’s actually getting there and getting there on Sunday or Monday.”

“It’s quite a lonely life, and I think some players understandably don’t want to do that. They would rather be happier doing something else, which is absolutely fine, obviously, but I think that’s why.”

You aren’t your only critic.

In golf, more than any other sport, working hard isn’t always good enough to perform well. Performance and scoring dips up and down, and even the best players on form don’t perform the same daily. When you get into a dip of form, pulling yourself out can be very hard.

Being kind to yourself is hard when you aren’t playing how you know you can. It is even harder when you face external criticism for this.

In 2021, at a County team event, our captain publicly criticised me for not playing well enough. I had just completed four months of rehab on an injured forearm to prepare for this event, and this unfair outburst dented my confidence way more than I would like to admit. What followed was seasons of uncomfortableness on the golf course, where I was much harsher on my performance and scoring than ever before.

Lexi is such a big household name that she faces criticism for poor play, poor shots, and mistakes much more than some other players. It is easy to see how, over time, that can seriously take its toll. Especially when you aren’t playing your best.

lexi's retirement

What am I without golf?

To be good at golf, it has to become your identity. Because you spend so much time immersed in training and competing, it can sometimes be hard to define yourself off the golf course or have a normal life.

It can also be hard to understand your worth out of that field. What am I offering if I’m not good at golf?

In a press conference at the 2024 US Women’s Open, Lexi said, “There are more things to life” than the rigorous routine of the LPGA Tour. It can be easy to question what you are missing out on when you devoted all your time, effort and money to one thing. Would being a ‘regular’ person give me more happiness?

Lexi: “In golf, you lose more than you win”

In a tournament, all that matters is your score. There are no do-overs like you get in practice. You get bad breaks from good shots and good breaks from bad shots. You can play amazingly and not win. It is endlessly difficult, and much like life never fair.

Sometimes, I feel like I am walking around with my score spray painted across my chest. A good score means everything is right in the world. A bad score means everything is wrong.

I am not the number on my scorecard, but often it feels like it. I completely understand why Lexi feels like it is time for a break from that. 

What do you think about Lexi’s retirement announcement? Let us know on X!

Hannah Holden

hannah holden

Hannah Holden is the Equipment and Instruction Editor here at National Club Golfer. If you’re looking to improve your game, by changing your golf swing or upgrading your golf equipment she’ll have the answers.

As well as writing lots of features and reviews you can find her on our YouTube channel giving you insights on the latest rules, clubs and tips to improve your golf game.

Hannah is a member at Alwoodley golf club. You will either find her here or driving up and down the country playing in a variety of elite amateur events.

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