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