Lexi Thompson Is Retiring from Full-Time Golf at Just 29 Years Old

Lexi Thompson announced her retirement from golfing at just 29 years old. Is she making the right choice?

Jamie Lerner - Author

May 30 2024, Published 4:52 p.m. ET

Lexi Thompson at the Mizuho Americas Open
Source: Getty Images

When we think about retirement, we often think of people in their 60s throwing parties and celebrating the next phases of their lives as retired people, perhaps grandparents. But someone as young as 29 years old will rarely announce their retirement. Even in high-contact sports, athletes typically play until their mid to late thirties, and golfers will easily play into their 40s or 50s. But not Lexi Thompson.

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Lexi Thompson broke a record as the youngest golfer to qualify for the Women’s U.S. Open in 2007 when she was just 12 years old (although Lucy Li broke that in 2014), which means that Lexi is competing in her 18th U.S. Open at just 29 years old with two Olympic Games under her belt. It’s only natural that after almost her entire life in golf, she’d want to try something different. So why did she retire?

Lexi Thompson at the U.S. Women's Open
Source: Getty Images
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Lexi Thompson announced her retirement from golf in a heartfelt video on Instagram.

In a combination of an Instagram post and press conference, Lexi Thompson announced that she’d be retiring from golf after this season, technically her 18th season as a professional golfer. The poetry of retiring after 18 years—18 is the number of holes on a golf course—is not lost on us or on Lexi. Perhaps she told herself that after 18 years, no matter what, she’d find something else to do with her life.

Luckily, because she’s not even 30 years old yet, Lexi has plenty of life left ahead of her to do something different. She could go to school and get a degree — she could do anything! Up until this point, she’s had 11 LPGA Tour wins, two Ladies European Tour wins, an LPGA of Japan Tour win, and a 2011 win in the TPC February Shootout. Plus, she competed on the U.S. Olympic team twice. With millions of dollars and several wins, she’s announced that it’s time to retire.

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“Golf. What can I say after all these years? You have played such an important role for the majority of my life. You welcomed me into your world at such a young age, and for that, I am grateful,” she voiced in her Instagram post as if reading a letter written to the sport. “Though our relationship has been complicated at times, you’ve taught me resilience, patience, and the power of perseverance.

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“You’ve shown me the highs and lows of competition, the thrill of victory, and the lessons learned in defeat … Although this has been an amazing journey, it hasn't always been an easy one. Since I was 12 years old, my life as a golfer has been a whirlwind of constant attention, scrutiny, and pressure. The cameras are always on, capturing every swing and every moment on and off the golf course.

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She added, "Social media never sleeps, with comments and criticisms flooding in from around the world," she added. "It can be exhausting to maintain a smile on the outside while grappling with struggles on the inside." But she’s done so gracefully for over 18 years and now, Lexi is ready to step back from being a full-time golfer.

Lexi also announced her decision in a press conference two days after PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray’s parents announced that he died by suicide. "I think we all have our own [mental health] struggles, especially out here," Lexi said in the press conference.

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"Unfortunately in golf, you lose more than you win, so it's an ongoing battle to continue to put yourself out there in front of the cameras and continuing to work hard and maybe not seeing the results you want and getting criticized for it. So it's hard. I will say, yes, I've struggled with it. I don't think there's somebody out here that hasn't. It's just a matter of how well you hide it, which is very sad."

Clearly, Lexi’s mental health played a role in her decision to step back, as did her desire to “branch out” and do something different. When asked if her recent hand injury played a role in her decision, she explained that it was more about wanting to do something different and new with her life. Lexi is ready to live and we are in full support of her!

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