An Open Letter to Jordan Spieth

14 03 2016


(Thanks so much for spreading this letter far and wide. Read an update and invitation here!)

Hi, Jordan.

I should probably confess right out of the gate that I’m not really a golf aficionado. I’ve never played the game (except the miniature version, and that poorly), and I only watch it on TV because my sweet, 85-year-old daddy loves it, and I love him.

To my untrained eye, golf consists of men in colorful pants whacking small white balls with long metal sticks, vying to see who can plunk their ball in a series of holes using the fewest number of whacks. All the while, a team of volume-challenged commentators share their analysis of the whole process in the sort of hushed tones one might use if a baby were sleeping nearby. Go, team!

I admit I don’t know much about golf, but there are a few things I do know. I know it requires finely tuned physical skills, extreme precision in both strategy and execution, and the mental calmness and acuity of a Jedi master.

I also know that you are an exceptionally good golfer. Anyone who has given the sport even a passing glance lately knows that. But that’s not what interests me most about you.

I may not be a golf aficionado, but I’m intensely interested in what makes people tick. I’m fascinated by human nature and character development and the fact that some people make this world more beautiful by the way they engage with their fellow men, while others seem only interested in achieving their own ends at any expense.

So, whenever the announcers whisper about you, I listen. And I love it when they puzzle over your maturity — how nothing seems to rattle you, and how your interview answers are uniformly gracious and unassuming. They obviously admire you, but in some ways, you’re a mystery to them.

It makes me smile. Because I think I understand at least part of the reason behind that mystery.

I think it’s your sister, Ellie.


Norman, Oklahoma--05/19/12--Jordan Spieth of Texas gets a hug from his sister, Ellie, 10 after the final round of the Southwest Regional Championship at Jimmie Austin Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma.--(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)

Jordan and Ellie Spieth

You see, Jordan, I have a son with special needs. His name is Jacob. And though plenty of people will tell us that Ellie and Jacob contribute nothing to society, we know better.

We know that people with special needs serve immensely important purposes. They are our best teachers of compassion, models of unflinching loyalty, and overcomers of countless challenges, often without complaint. Their joy is infectious, and their gratitude abundant, even for the simplest gifts. They love unconditionally, and they inspire us to do the same. And they ground us in what matters most.

I believe your secret is that you know life ultimately doesn’t revolve around you, or golf, or how you rank against anyone else.

Oh sure, you take your sport seriously, and obviously you work very hard to be your very best. But at the end of the day, your fans aren’t the ones hugging you and gazing at you with adoring eyes, whether you won or lost.

Ellie is.


Chicken hats? You are more awesome than I realized.


Jordan, Ellie, and Steven Spieth

So, why am I writing this letter to you?

I’m glad you asked. Because I have a dream. You and I are from the same home town, and there are some people here I’d love for you and Ellie to know.



YLCapernaum2North Texas Young Life Capernaum

Young Life Capernaum is a ministry that serves teens and young adults with special needs. It’s an international organization, but each local branch is responsible for its own club meetings, outreaches, and fund raising.

I serve on a committee that meets monthly to discuss the club’s needs, and as we’ve been looking for ways to spread the word about what we do, I’ve been dreaming big.

Dallas is an affluent city with lots of beautiful, generous souls living in it, but most of them don’t even know Young Life Capernaum exists. What if we were to host a golf tournament, inviting local golfers to form teams, play some golf, and then attend a reception where someone who’s really, really well known and respected in the golf world (hint: this would be you) would also be present? Do you have any idea how many people in this area would LOVE to pay a small entrance fee benefiting a worthy organization for the chance to have fun and hobnob with the world’s number one golfer? (hint: a lot)

But that’s not all. In my dream, your sister Ellie would be the star of this event. We would call it the First Annual (remember, I’m dreaming big) Ellie Spieth Golf Tournament, and she would get to introduce her beloved brother to all our Young Life Capernaum friends, who would be invited to attend a mini putting clinic, coached by that same really, really well known and respected number one golfer. (You.)

If you were to catch this vision, I have no doubt all the other pieces would fall into place. Date, venue, caterers, golfers, prize donations, you name it. We really just need two things to make this happen.

You and Ellie.

Thanks for reading this, Jordan. (Assuming you ever actually read it, but I’ve already said I’m operating in dream mode on this one, so I’m running with it.) If you’re willing to even consider what this might look like, you can reach the Young Life Capernaum office at 214-862-5544. (Additional contact info here.) We’d be beyond delighted to hear from you.

And, no matter what you decide about this, I want to thank you with all my heart for loving your sweet sister in front of a watching world. Long after you’ve hung up your clubs, you can know for certain that you made a difference where it mattered most.

With deep gratitude for you,


Me and Jacob



20 responses

14 03 2016
ro elliott

I love this… And I will pray this finds its way to Jordon… My mom and dad are both golf enthusiast … My mom is 91 and still plays golf. I too love how Jordon carries himself in his high profile position… And yes… I agree Ellie has been part of that grounding. Blessings on you adventure!!!!

17 03 2016

Thanks so much, Ro. Your prayers and friendship are a sweet gift! xo

14 03 2016
Sandra Heska King

Oh my goodness. I’m praying this dream comes true!

17 03 2016

Thank you, Sandra! xo

14 03 2016

I see your heart again, Jeanne, and it’s a beautiful thing! Can’t help but say that I, too, am praying this dream comes true. 🙂

17 03 2016

Thanks, Tatia! Love you.

14 03 2016
Dayna (Nelson) Nardozza

I KNOW this lovely woman, who evidently has grown even more wonderful since high school!! I come from a long line of golfers, and I still love to watch the game, but now only on tv. It sounds like a fabulous idea for ALL concerned, and I pray this dream becomes a reality and everyone involved benefits by sharing their abilities and learning from this incredible group of young men and women, boys and girls!!! Our own special needs students have taught US so much!!! I treasure each one and the gifts of patience and understanding they provide!!

17 03 2016

Dayna!!! How wonderful to hear from you! I have so many fun and funny memories of you from junior high and high school! Where are you now, and what’s going on in your life? I’d love to hear your story. You can reach me by email at jeanne.damoff @ So much love to you!

14 03 2016

Have you seen this page on his website, Jeanne? I think he just might be inclined to hear your case about this.
(You can click on the part that says something like “more about special needs youth” and it shows more things he’s done.)

17 03 2016

Thanks for sharing this, Tara. I hadn’t seen Jordan’s website or looked into his foundation before you sent it. What a beautiful work he is already doing! The more I learn about him, the more I admire the way he is navigating all this success and celebrity at such a young age. He and his whole family are truly remarkable and inspiring. I pray God leads and protects them as they live with grace in a bright spotlight. Amazing.

14 03 2016
Brandy Lidbeck

Yay! Such a great dream…and not unrealistic either! I shared it on his FB page and tweeted it to him! Would love to see this happen!

17 03 2016

Thank you, Brandy! 🙂

14 03 2016
Linda Chontos

Oh Jeanne – I so hope and pray this dream comes true. God can do this!

17 03 2016

Thank you, Linda! Love you, sister.

15 03 2016
Jacque Watkins

Beautiful…joining in praying for this dream to materialize!!❤️

17 03 2016

Thanks so much, Jacque! I’m so deeply grateful for the way this dream has captured people’s imaginations and helped spread the word about Young Life Capernaum. In my mind it’s already a win. Thanks for praying!

16 03 2016
Gail Senn

I will pray for this to start something BIG, to win lives for Christ…… Please Lord, let this get to Jordan, and prick his heart💕

17 03 2016

Thank you, Gail! I appreciate you and your prayers.

17 03 2016
Barbara Lambert

This is a wonderful idea. No, I did not know about this organization but I do have a very special granddaughter. I hope this event becomes a reality. I also am a fan of Jordan’s but even more of Ellie’s.
Barbara Lambert

17 03 2016

Thank you, Barbara! Young Life Capernaum is a beautiful ministry. If your granddaughter is a teen, you should look into clubs in your area! Blessings on her, on you, and your whole family.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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