AKWESASNE, Ontario – Athletic achievements are common in the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, though no one expected Indian country’s top female amateur golfer to come from an area where the golf season is only a few months long.
Victoria Thompson is a shy, quiet 21-year-old, who has been as surprised as anyone that her hobby has taken her to the levels it has. After all, she didn’t pick up the sport of golf until she was 15, and by 2008, at the age of 20, she had won the gold medal in women’s golf at the North American Indigenous Games.
Thompson was raised on hockey, as many Akwesasne girls are. Although golf courses can be found in the towns surrounding the reservation, it’s not as popular a sport with Mohawk children. When Thompson was 13, her father, Timothy, opened a driving range behind his house. Despite having access to golf in her backyard, she still didn’t have an interest in playing a course until two years later when she began playing as a summer hobby.
When Thompson was 17, a woman she had been golfing regularly with thought she should compete in an upcoming tournament in Florida for Native Americans. She was accepted into the National Native American Junior Golf Championship at the last minute and flew to Orlando to compete.
“It was 95 degree weather and we had to walk and carry our bags,” Thompson recalled, laughing. It was her first time competing at any national level and in those conditions.
So she was taken by surprise when she won first place in her division.
It was the first time she thought anything of her hobby, and after that there was no stopping her. She began competing in every tournament she could throughout Ontario, and it was clear that her Florida win wasn’t a fluke. Thompson placed first or second in nearly every tournament she competed in.
In 2007, Thompson broke two records in the city of Cornwall, neighbor to Akwesasne. At the end of the season she was the Cornwall Golf and Country Club’s champion, and not only was she the youngest person to ever achieve that title in its 100-plus year history, she was the first Native American.
That year she achieved the same honor at the Malone Country Club in another town bordering Akwesasne.
In 2008, she did it again, and is the two-year reigning women’s champion of both golf clubs.
Thompson’s career high came in the summer of 2008 in British Columbia, where she represented Akwesasne at the North American Indigenous Games. There, she made her first hole-in-one, an achievement every golfer dreams of.
“I didn’t even know I got it until some guy watching started jumping up and down screaming.” Thompson had another hole-in-one three weeks later in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Thompson has no idea what has made her such a talented golfer, but her fans have said she exhibits a great amount of patience on the course and that she doesn’t let one bad shot throw off her entire round. She said she practices “a lot.”
In the beginning, she said she golfed once or twice a week. Now, she is on the course every day and takes regular trips south throughout the winter so she can play year-round. She admits it has become an addiction.
While in Florida, Thompson has attended the academy of the former No. 1 internationally-ranked female golfer Annika Sorenstam. Now, she continues to get lessons from Annika’s sister, Charlotta. Thompson has proven that her ability comes naturally, but the Sorenstam sisters have given her helpful tips and pointers. They changed Thompson’s swing, noticeably improving her game.
Although she’s achieved many of her amateur goals already, Thompson said she’s still hoping to win some more major amateur tournaments before she decides if going pro is something she’d like to do.
Whatever she decides, Thompson knows she wants golf to be a part of her life.