Victoria University is deeply saddened by the loss of alumnus and golfing great Peter Thomson, who died today aged 88.
In 2010, Mr Thomson was inducted into VU’s Sport of Fame, joining other world-class athletes including Olympians, basketballer Andrew Gaze (2002); rower Mike McKay (2003); and sailor and former Western Bulldogs CEO, Campbell Rose (2006).
He also received an honourary degree from VU in 2006, and is one of the University’s 90 Legends.
Mr Thomson is widely recognised as among Australia’s best golfers, with more than 80 professional wins. He also made outstanding contributions to the sport in Australia as president of the Australian PGA for more than 30 years.
Growing up in West Brunswick, Mr Thomson completed a Diploma of Applied Chemistry in 1945 at nearby Footscray Technical School, VU’s original predecessor institution.
He worked for a short time as an industrial chemist, but golf was his true passion. His neighbourhood golf course at Royal Park first recognised his talent, changing its age rules to allow the then-13-year-old to join. In 1945, Mr Thomson became Victoria Golf Club’s club champion, aged only 16.
Professional at 20
By the time he was 20, he was playing professional golf. Between 1954 and 1965, Mr Thomson won the British Open five times against a field of the world’s best players including Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. He also won 26 championships in Europe, 19 in Australia and 11 in Asia. In the 1980s, he won the US Senior PGA Tour nine times and his final tournament victory, the British Seniors PGA in 1988.
Mr Thomson was also a golf course designer and an avid golf writer, contributing to The Age’s golf pages for more than 50 years. He served as president of the Australian Professional Golfers Association from 1962 to 1994, and was admitted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988. He was non-playing captain of Australia’s victorious international team in the 1998 President’s Cup.
Mr Thomson was recognised for his services to golf by both the United Kingdom and Australia, becoming a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1979, and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2001. He was an inaugural Inductee into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and was elevated to Legend status in 2001.