Years of playing, mentoring and enjoying the game of golf have landed Donna Thompson a spot in the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame.
Thompson, born Donna Margaret Patton in Winnipeg, was inducted on Sept. 30 as an honoured member in the athlete category.
Thompson is a fixture here on the Sunshine Coast and a beloved member of the Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club.
She recalls receiving a phone call from a childhood friend last spring about the pending nomination.
“She asked if she could nominate me, and before I knew it, I received a call saying I had been accepted,” Thompson said. “It is quite an honour. I would never have dreamed that something like this could happen to me.”
As she did some research on the Hall of Fame, she soon discovered that many of the women she played with and won championships with in the late ‘50s were already Hall of Fame members.
“That certainly validated to me that I belonged in the group,” she said.
Thompson was born and raised in Winnipeg. She played lots of sports growing up and was a pretty good basketball player. She took up golf in the summer when she was 13 years old.
“My dad was a pretty good player. We had a nine-hole course a few blocks from where we lived and that summer, the girls and I wanted something to do. It was either tennis or golf. We chose golf,” Thompson recalled. “The next summer it was just me playing golf, so I played with all the boys. I just got hooked. I loved the game, I loved the challenge, and I loved the competition.”
She occupied a prominent position on the Manitoba golf scene through the 1950s before moving west to Vancouver and continuing her golfing success.
As a junior, she teamed with Jo-Ann Percy as the Manitoba team at the national championships in 1955, winning low net honours. She won the provincial junior championship in 1956 and 1958. She won the Manitoba amateur honours in 1957, 1958 and 1959. She was the City and District champion in four straight years, 1956 through 1959. She was also named University of Manitoba Athlete of the Year in 1956 and 1957 for excelling in golf and basketball.
As Donna Collett from 1958 to 1973 and as Donna Thompson from 1975, she continued to have success in the west, playing on the B.C. amateur team in 1965 and on B.C. senior teams eight times from 1990 through 2004, winning national team low gross honours in 2004.
She won the B.C. senior championship in 1996, 1997 and 2004 and claimed the Vancouver District 2 championship in 1990, 1994 and 1996.
She won the club championship at Marine Drive eight times from 1967 through 1983 and the club championship at Sunshine Coast 12 times from 1995 through 2011.
She won the Sunshine Coast Sea Cavalcade 11 times and Sunshine Coast Ladies Challenge Low Net Tournaments once as well as the gross prize four times.
She was also active in golf administration in B.C., serving on the match and house committees and as women’s president at Marine Drive; on the board of trustees of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and BC Golf House and Museum; women’s rules chair for Vancouver District 2; BC Ladies’ Rules chair for two years; and board member, women’s captain, women’s rules chair, women’s handicap chair and on the Ladies’ Challenge Committee for 13 years at Sunshine Coast.
On the national scene she was ranked 10th senior woman in 1990 and fourth senior woman in 1991.
“It has been a lot of hard work, but also very rewarding,” she said. “I got to see the whole country playing golf. In those early days we travelled by train. I met a lot of good people and some great women who have become life-long friends.”
Thompson said she was very much looking forward to seeing some old friends back in Winnipeg for the ceremony.
“I want to thank everyone responsible for the nomination and especially the Manitoba Golf Association,” she said. “Even in those early days they had some great programs and a great junior program. It’s going to be great going back and seeing some friends, some of the women that I played with. It all started for me in Manitoba, so it’s kind of going full circle to go back and receive this honour. It’s a very nice to be recognized this way.”