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The Real Importance of the Spieth Thank-you Note That Went Viral

This past weekend, the golf world was rocked by an extraordinary display as 21-year old Jordan Spieth captured the 2015 Masters title at Augusta, Georgia. What he accomplished is record setting: Since the inception of the tournament, he is the only golfer in the history of the tournament to climb to nineteen strokes under par at The Masters. Unfortunately for him he bogeyed the final hole of the tournament and had to settle for tying Tiger Woods’ record of eighteen under for the final tournament score. Still, it’s an incredible accomplishment as he and Tiger are the only golfers to make it to the minus eighteen plateau, much less actually finish with a final score of eighteen under par.

As amazing as his performance at The Masters was, the story that keeps coming to the fore is about what a truly nice guy he is. He is the epitome of the athlete who not only can perform at the highest levels but also exemplifies the person others genuinely like. Phil Mickelson said it best right after the round when he was asked for his perspective on Spieth: “He’s obviously a tremendous player, but he’s just a tremendous individual, too. He’s really been a lot of fun to have on the past Ryders Cup and Presidents Cup teams. He’s just a quality individual. I think it’s hard not to like, not to pull for the guy.”

That’s high praise from one competitor about another competitor in any sport. What makes Spieth who he is goes well beyond the time he’s been a PGA professional. It’s part of him, part of his upbringing, part of the values his parents have instilled in him. Evidence of this surfaced with a thank-you note he wrote in high school. He had been awarded a scholarship as a junior in high school at Dallas Jesuit. While much has been written about his dream of winning The Masters that he mentions in the note, what is really impressive is that he wrote the note—not a perfunctory thank you, but a genuine, heart-felt thank you that addressed the importance of academics as well as golf in his teenage world. That note was written not because it would go viral one day, it was written to express gratitude for an opportunity.

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Thank-you notes matter because they reflect back on you as someone who knows how to show appreciation for a gift or a favor, or an opportunity. It is such a simple device, yet they help us to build relationships in ways we may not even imagine when we write them. Spieth wrote his note to thank the people who made the scholarship possible, not because he or his note would be famous one day. We should all take a lesson from Spieth on how to write a thank-you note that demonstrates genuine appreciation in the moment.

If you have a business etiquette question, please email it to [email protected]

Post’s newest book, The Unwritten Rules of Golf, Morrow, will be available on April 28.

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers’ questions in The Boston Sunday Globe’s weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business” and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book “Essential Manners For Men” was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of “Essential Manners for Couples,” “Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf,” and co-author of “A Wedding Like No Other.” Post is Emily Post’s great-grandson. His media appearances include “CBS Sunday Morning,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and “Fox News.” Follow Post: @PeterLPost.

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