‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (2024)

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (1)

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Jordan Spieth aims to give back to golf's youth

04:02 - Source: CNN

CNN

Hundreds of pairs of eyes tracking him as he walks to the next tee, Jordan Spieth is not playing well, and he knows it.

Once upon a time, an internal monologue of insecurity – ‘Man, I’m stinking today’ – would have been the soundtrack to the American’s march past the masses. These days, though, it’s an entirely different voice – one that leads him to pause at the ropes and make the day of one enraptured young fan.

“I throw a few more golf balls out than I ever have … Not only does it make them happy, but it makes me happy,” Spieth told CNN Sport’s Patrick Snell.

“It’s cool to see a kid smile. I’m like, ‘Man, if my son was out here, he wouldn’t care what that guy did on the previous hole or tournament. He just knows who he is for whatever reason and he wants a high five.’”

Make no mistake, Spieth is as hungry as ever to continue populating his trophy cabinet, but fatherhood and Father Time have recalibrated the three-time major champion’s outlook.

At 30 years old, Spieth is far from a veteran. Yet 11 years, 276 events and 13 wins into his PGA Tour career, the former world No. 1 already experienced and witnessed more than many golfers will in a lifetime.

Sporting immortality still beckons, with Spieth just one PGA Championship victory away from becoming only the sixth player in history to clinch all four professional majors, but the Texan is eyeing a legacy that can be measured in more than just silverware.

“You start to realize that the trophies and all that, it’s great and it happens, but they are a blip in time,” he said. “That you can make somebody feel good, how you make somebody feel, is significantly more important than how you entertain them once.

“It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re in the middle of competition, but the more [you play], you can recognize it’s just a game and the impact we have can be way more important than that entertainment when we pass by on that one hole.”

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (2)

Spieth, pictured in action at the 2023 Players Championship, is on a mission to give fans lasting memories.

Back to the start

Spieth’s latest effort to deliver such an impact takes the form of the “Crush It! Cup” – a youth golf tournament and fundraiser staged at the place where his journey began.

On September 16, Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas will play host to a competition of 36 junior golfers who will have earned their place on the field based on their efforts in a two-month long Golf Marathon Fundraiser.

The campaign will run across 26 states at 150 golf clubs owned by Invited, the largest owner and operator of private membership clubs in the US that partnered with Spieth in 2022.

Spieth will host a golf clinic for the top 100 fundraisers before playing alongside each young golfer for one hole at Brookhaven – coincidentally both his and Invited’s first club. As the sun sets, he will take a seat beside the flames to anchor a Fireside chat with competitors.

The host is expecting some “crazy” questions, many stemming from Netflix’s fly-on-the-wall golf docuseries “Full Swing,” but is just as interested in what he can take from those asking them.

“These kids, you watch them – their focus, their desire – they’re so nice and then the second it’s their turn to hit, they – the competitive nature sinks in,” Spieth said.

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (3)

Kids in Invited's Crush it! Junior Golf program took part in an event at Hasentree Country Club in Wake Forest, North Carolina, in May.

“I’m really excited to just watch kids be kids. We just kind of lose sight of it professionally sometimes. We get involved in more of the business and technical sides of things and it’s really fun to just be around a bunch of kids playing golf.

“It reminds us why we love the game and we should never forget that.”

Money raised will head to the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, which was built to raise awareness of and fund four key “pillars”: junior golf, military veterans, pediatric cancer and children with special needs.

Spieth launched the endeavor as a 19-year-old rookie in large part due to his younger sister Ellie, who has autism. More than a decade on, his sibling continues to inspire.

“It’s a love, a support, a perspective that a lot of other people don’t necessarily have,” Spieth said.

“I’ve always said that we’re blessed because we get to watch her. It’s raw emotion and her joy is just pure joy – there’s no faking. It’s fun to watch her be and it’s fun to support her as she’s always been there to support us.”

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (4)

The siblings together ahead of the 2017 PGA Championship.

‘He’s doing more for the game of golf than any professional golfer is doing’

While Spieth is confident that junior golf is becoming increasingly diverse, he believes “quite a bit” of work is still left to be done at the grassroots level of the sport in terms of inclusivity.

Poetically, the biggest driver for change may lie outside the traditional channels. While Spieth is pleased with the efforts his foundation is making – such as supporting the PGA Junior League, First Tee and other nonprofits – he is left awestruck by the influence of NBA icon Steph Curry.

An avid – and rather talented – golfer himself, Golden State Warriors star Curry launched his “Underrated Golf Tour” in 2022, offering an all-expenses paid competitive opportunity for underrepresented young players.

Ahead of last month’s US Open, the four-time NBA champion was presented with the Charlie Sifford Award, a prize – named after the PGA Tour’s first Black player – bestowed by the World Golf Hall of Fame that honors those advancing diversity in golf.

For Spieth, there could not have been a more worthy recipient.

“He’s doing more for the game of golf than any professional golfer is doing,” Spieth insists.
“It’s absolutely remarkable.”

“We’re trying to help where we can, but some people like Steph have bigger platforms and it’s really cool with the stuff he’s doing. As much as we try to help, he’s got the opportunity and he’s acting on it tenfold.”

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (5)

Curry has been lauded for his efforts both on and off the golf course.

As the major season culminates with the Open Championship in Scotland on July 18, Spieth’s sights are firmly trained on more major glory. Yet should the 2017 champion not get his hands on a second Claret Jug, he will take some comfort if he hears one of his favorite soundbites from beyond the ropes at Royal Troon.

“Kids coming up and saying, ‘I didn’t play the game of golf ‘til I watched you and then I wanted to take it up.’ It’s really neat when you hear that,” Spieth said.

“Because I love the game, and I know that the game is a really good pathway into creating good human beings going forward.

“I never really got into it for that. I just loved it myself and I loved competing and so I just wanted to keep doing it. You don’t really realize until later on that, if you do it the right way, it can have that kind of impact and bring somebody else into the game.”

‘Trophies are a blip in time … how you make somebody feel is more important’: Jordan Spieth launches junior golf tournament | CNN (2024)

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