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Why you should support Jordan Speith at Royal Birkdale

JS

“You may have heard Zach say in his press conference about Jordan: ‘He is a phenomenal golfer, but he is a much better person.’ Here is a story that not a lot of people outside eastern Iowa know, and it tells you a lot about both men.

Zach conducts a charity golf event every summer on the Monday before the John Deere tournament in the Quad Cities. He holds the event at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids, where he learned to play golf and where his parents are still members. Zach brings about a dozen golf professionals with him and invites a bunch of former athletes and coaches (e.g., Chuck Long, Dallas Clark, Kurt Warner) well-known to Iowans. Anyone can donate money to participate in a draft to pick the pro or celebrity with whom you then play. There also are silent and live auctions (Zach auctions a round of golf with him at Augusta; this goes for tens of thousands) on Sunday night during a banquet. At the end of the entire event, Zach writes a check to match all of the money generated by the auctions and the draft. Zach’s foundation distributes the money to public and private elementary and middle schools in the Cedar Rapids metro area. He also donated a lot of money to various charitable entities that were involved in relief and recovery efforts that are still occurring since the 2008 flood.

So when Zach says in his press conference that golf creates opportunities, he is not talking about opportunities for him to make money; he’s talking about opportunities to give money. He has been beyond generous and has never forgotten where he is from and where he received his start.

But the real story here is about Jordan Spieth. Zach invited Jordan to attend his 2014 event, and Jordan accepted. This was the year after Jordan beat Zach in a play-off to win the Deere, which was Jordan’s first win on the Tour. Jordan was a hot golfer (finished second in the Masters) and rising star in 2014, but he was not yet incandescent. Jordan attended Zach’s event, enjoyed himself, and told Zach that he wanted to return in 2015.

Turn the page to 2015: Jordan wins the Masters and wins the US Open. Jordan is one of the biggest stories in sports, and the conversation in the national media is whether Jordan should skip out of his commitment to play in the Deere (during the week immediately before The Open) so that he can leave early for Scotland and get acclimated. He has never seen the Old Course, let alone played it. Jordan announces that he is keeping his commitment to play in the Deere. Some people applaud him for that, and some question the wisdom of his decision.

What does not get mentioned in the national media is that Jordan also keeps his commitment to Zach. So, on Monday, July 6, two-consecutive-majors-winner Jordan Spieth is walking around Elmcrest Country Club in shorts and playing golf with four friends of mine who donated an obscene amount of money to get first position in the draft. Maybe it’s just me, but the notion that a 21-year-old young man from Texas who is trying to win the third of three majors in a row has kept his commitment to play in a charity golf tournament just 9 days before the next major starts on another continent, when that charity event benefits absolutely no one that he knows, is pretty remarkable.”

Paul Wenke
President
Sterling Development Group, LTD

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