Friday, July 8, 2011

Blaming Jordan Spieth

I turned 40 today.

I don't feel any older ... but that's probably because I've been feeling old for a while now.

I blame Jordan Spieth.

Jordan Spieth, '09 U.S. Junior Am Champ
I've been covering Jordan -- the teenager from Dallas who won the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, finished in the top-20 in the PGA Tour's 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship and who made a run at a top-25 finish again there this year -- for more than three years now. I first saw him play at a 2009 AJGA event at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.

He was 14 or 15 years old back then, and he had serious game. Skinny as a rail but flexible as rubber, he pounded the ball 280+ and seemed to have almost complete control of his irons. Plus he made nearly every putt he looked at that weekend.

It wasn't his golf game that stuck with me in the weeks that followed, however. What really impressed me that first time I covered him was his composure. He lost in a playoff that year, so he had to be upset about it.

A couple minutes after the playoff ended, he sat on stone wall near the 18th green at the beautiful Jack Nicklaus Course at Carlton Woods and answered questions from a couple reporters. He was polite, thoughtful and very humble. He congratulated the kid who beat him and said he'd only work harder to win next year. (He finished 2nd again in 2010 but closed out his AJGA career by winning the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods in Feburary of this year.)

Not too long after that first interview, I saw him again and asked him to start writing a bi-monthly junior golf column for DFW Links and Houston Links magazines. We did that column together for two years, and it always was fun for me to talk with him, pick his brain and push him to write introspectively about his life, golf, school and whatever else was on his mind.

Spieth gained rock star status at the 2010 Nelson Championship
What bugged me about him -- and still does -- was that he always called me "Mr. Button" when we talked.

That REALLY made me feel old. I hated it, and I still do.

I really don't blame Jordan (well, maybe a little bit). He's such a well-mannered kid, and he is just trying to be respectful ... to his elders. It's an admirable quality. I get that. I just don't like the implication. Which is: I'm old.

It's easy to see he was raised by great parents. His mom, Chris, and father, Shawn, are shining examples of how to raise any child, regardless of atheltic talent.

Still, the fact that Jordan always refers me to Mr. Button ticks me off. I'd tell him time and again to call me Mark, and he would say, "Yes, sir."

Then the next time I saw him, it was: "Hey, Mr. Button."

Mr. Button is my dad.

All of this came back to mind yesterday when I was editing Texas Golf Association president Rob Addington's monthly column for our magazines. Rob wrote about the HP Byron Nelson Junior (which Jordan won three straight times from 2008-2010), and he commented how golf produces such well-mannered, respectful kids who turn into responsible young adults. Rob wrote that he, too, was bugged by the fact that those juniors call him "Mr. Addington" and not "Rob."

So it was nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels old today.

(Sorry, Mr. Addington, errr, I mean, Rob.)

Thanks for reading. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

- Mark Button, Texas Links Magazines


  1. Dude, really...he is very well mannered and leave it at that...he does turn older the same day I do (July 27), except he turns 19 and I turn 40...suck it up you have a long way to go;) Mr. Button... It's respect brother and you deserve it.