Michael Thompson's love of reading helps clear his mind off the course
November 17, 2021
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR – The CUT
An inside look at Michael Thompson's passion for cars
Michael Thompson loves to read, and for that, he surely has his mother to thank. She was an English teacher, and he was losing himself in the wonder of books long before he ever wrapped his fingers around the grip of a golf club.
Even now, as he travels around the world making his living on the PGA TOUR, he always has at least one book in his suitcase to help him get his mind off golf. A bound book with words on paper, too – no Kindles or iPads for him.
“No, I like the actual physical book,” Thompson says. “I like turning pages. I don't like staring at a screen for very long, so I try to travel with the actual book.”
Among Thompson’s go-to authors is Clive Cussler. He especially likes the Dirk Pitt series, which he started reading again earlier this year. Pitt is the larger-than-life adventurer and decorated aviator featured in Cussler’s novels from 1976 to 2019.
It probably doesn’t hurt that Pitt’s character has a collection of classic cars, either. Thompson shares that interest with the protagonist -- and Cussler the author, as well -- and even taught himself how to rebuild a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback, as well as other special rides.
One of Thompson’s favorite books of all time is Where the Red Fern Grows. He was an Eagle Scout, and the plot, which centers on a young boy in the Ozarks and his two redbone coonhounds, resonates with him, as does Jack London’s classic,The Call of the Wild.
“I just love the story of being in the woods and a little boy growing up with his dogs and kind of the struggle of life as a kid and hunting and teaching your dog how to do the things you want to do,” he says. “And I always loved being outdoors. I was in the Boy Scouts growing up, so anything kind of mountain-to-cabin just was kind of real romantic to me.”
Historical fiction is another of Thompson’s interests, along with biographies and autobiographies. The two-time PGA TOUR winner is also very process-oriented – remember the rebuilt Ford Mustang? – so he enjoys books that help with setting and accomplishing goals.
“I like reading those as well because they're encouraging and just motivating,” Thompson says.
Lately, though, Thompson has found himself imparting his love of reading to the next generation. His mom has helped, too, sending some of the books she once read to Thompson to her grandson Jace and granddaughter Laurel.
“I have two little kids now, so she's been going through the closet at home and finding all the children's books that we used to read and, and she's given me a bunch of them,” Thompson says. “They have the date of one when we got them either Christmas or birthday gifts.
“… It's just cool to go back and see actually see the physical book and remember like how old I was when I first remember reading it and being read those books. It's just cool.”
Jace likes the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss. But like most little boys, he’s also into lizards and snakes so there’s an amphibian encyclopedia that’s high on his reading list right now, too. And the precocious youngster also has a book that’s teaching him about weather.
“He’s always asking, Daddy, let's read it. Can you read this to me?” Thompson says, smiling broadly. “He's got his favorite ones like there was one that was the green pit viper. He’s just all into snakes right now. … And then he likes reading about the haboobs and weather patterns, the big dust storms.
“It's fun to see him kind of latch onto some of that. And remember the facts and the statistics with regards to all of the characteristics of the different animals and that kind of thing.”
Laurel, on the other hand, is a toddler, so her attention span is limited. “She'll sit there for a little bit, but then she wants to run around and play,” Thompson says with a laugh. “But she'll get into it.”
And when Laurel does, Thompson and his wife Rachel will be ready.
“It’s the fun part of being a parent,” he says.