As she walked off the 18th green at Congressional Country Club, Jenny Suh Thompson closed her yardage book for the final time in this week’s Women’s PGA Championship and was greeted by the smiling face of her son, Oliver.
“I probably should have looked at him a little more and be like, ‘This doesn’t matter,’ ” she said, gesturing to the course before nodding at the same picture of Oliver on her phone’s lock screen. “This matters.”
Family was a recurring theme this week for Suh Thompson, who grew up playing junior golf at Fairfax National Golf Club. The Northern Virginia native now works as a PGA teaching professional and membership director at the Dye Preserve in Jupiter, Fla.
As a senior at Chantilly High in 2002, she won the Virginia AAA boys’ state title; there was not a high school girls’ tournament at the time. She was named The Washington Post’s All-Met golfer of the year in 2003.
“To be the kid that wasn’t allowed to play with the guys because they were so much better, and now the guys are in the gallery, it’s this eerie but cool feeling,” she said.
Suh Thompson played two years at Furman and finished her collegiate career at Alabama. From 2011 to 2015, she played on the LPGA Tour before electing to step back from professional golf.
With encouragement from her husband, Kurt Thompson, she set her sights on qualifying for this Women’s PGA, knowing it would be something of a homecoming. A sixth-place finish at the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in February earned Suh Thompson a spot in the field in Bethesda.
She has no intention of trying to play professionally full time again, but Kurt, who also works at the Dye Preserve as the director of golf, knows she isn’t completely ready to give up experiences such as this week at Congressional.
“Jenny still has some fire in there,” Kurt said. “To be able to come home and play at this venue close to home for her, it meant a lot to her.”
While she was disappointed to miss the weekend — a first-round 79 sealed her fate — Suh Thompson, 36, still treasures every chance to play storied Congressional.
“Growing up, when I had an opportunity to play Congo, I jumped on it, no matter what I had going on that day, and it’s still the same feeling,” she said.
On Friday, Suh Thompson was greeted on the course by some familiar faces. As she walked to the 15th tee box, she was met by the father of a childhood friend, a man Suh Thompson said she hadn’t seen in decades.
“You got married!” he said. Suh Thompson laughed. “And had a baby!”
This week also marked the first time her husband was able to see her play in a major, which he described as a thrilling but anxious experience. Kurt walked and watched silently, periodically taking videos during his wife’s round.
“I know she wanted to play better,” he said. “But she had some great shots the last two days, which, when you’ve only played a couple rounds of golf in almost a year, that’s okay. We’ll take that.”
Among those great shots was a tight approach shot on the 14th and birdies on the par-5 16th in both rounds. The week got her thinking to when the Women’s PGA returns to Bethesda in 2027.
“Let’s see if I can hang with the girls still,” she said. “I’ll try. I’ll keep trying every year. We’ll see how it goes.”
In 2027, Oliver will be old enough to walk with her — and may already be refining his own golf swing.
“In a couple of years, maybe he can be out here walking and be like, ‘Mom, why’d you do that?’ ” Suh Thompson said with a laugh. “I’ll be like: ‘I don’t know. I don’t know why I hit that shot!’ ”
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