Jordan Spieth: Thoughts on Golf & Leadership at The Masters


Jordan Spieth, winner of the 2015 Masters Golf Tournament, demonstrates great leadership principles on and off the course.

It's been a long, long time since anyone saw anything like Jordan Spieth. At the ripe, old age of 21, he blasted his way right through The Masters and an army of much older, much more experienced, and much, much more famous golfers. He seized the lead on day one and never looked back. The greatest golfers in the world could barely keep his tail lights in view. No one ever ever passed him even momentarily. In fact, no one ever caught up with him, not even for a single round. Spieth became the first player in nearly half a century to lead all four rounds. Only Tiger Woods won The Masters at a younger age (by only a few months) and not since WWII has any kept his opponents at such a distance for the entire tournament.

Whew! That's a mouthful and it actually doesn't even begin to tell the whole story of his record-setting tournament. He set more records than I wish to record here but among them:

  • Best 36-Hole Score (130)
  • Best 54-Hole Score (200)
  • Most Number of Birdies (28)
  • Best Opening Round Ever By A Champion (64)


What about leadership? Here are some thoughts on how to translate this exciting "newcomer's" story into leadership principles.

1) There is no end to newcomers. True veteran leaders welcome them and encourage them. Crusty old curmudgeons who give the cold shoulder to bright young stars are filled with envy and the fear that when another's star shines brightly, theirs is somehow dimmed. That is a poverty view and unworthy of true leaders.  Here's a great quote from Rory Mcllroy: "It was great to see and great for the game."

2) Humility becometh a great leader. After his fabulous showing at Augusta, Spieth was asked about the possibility of a new golf rivalry between him and Mcllroy. Spieth replied with admirable grace. "He has four majors. That's something I can only dream about. As to a rivalry, right now, I don't know."

Mcllroy was not so humble. Here's a not so great quote from Mcllroy: "I'm still the world's greatest golfer." Great leaders wait for others make statements such as that. The rush to tout one’s own greatness is embarrassingly immature and unworthy of a great leader.

3) Speaking of maturity, here's a final leadership lesson from the exciting young Spieth. He handled himself as well as his golf with mature skill that was enjoyable to watch. In interviews he managed to avoid Mcllroy's awkward self-exaltation. The one statement he made which made me wince a bit was this: "This is as good as it gets in our sport. This was the greatest week of my life. This was the ultimate goal of my golf life."

I understand what he was saying. It is a dream come true, I'm sure, to win The Masters. Having said that, I hope the young champion will quickly set new goals, personal and professional, which will motivate him to improve and keep charging. The world has watched with dismay, in life, leadership, entertainment, the ministry and in sports, as youngsters reach such a mountain top too early and flopped. I'm sure that won't be the case for young Spieth but soon I hope to hear him say, "The Masters was a great experience: the best SO FAR. But I've tournaments ahead, so to win some I will not, as I hope to improve my game at each level."

At every success and at each setback, the great leaders all say the same thing: the best is yet to come.

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