The most striking feature of Jordan Spieth’s game, according to his longtime coach

Before he was a three-time major champion and the world’s top-ranked player, Jordan Spieth was a junior golfer, looking to get better, like so many others.

Spieth went to see Cameron McCormick for the first time when Spieth was just 12 years old. The two have been working together ever since, and on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, McCormick described what struck him the most about Spieth during that initial meeting.

Jordan Spieth smiles
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“It wasn’t his power, it wasn’t his stature, and it wasn’t the beauty that he brought to the game, in terms of that macro, stand-back, take-a-look-at-this golf swing,” McCormick said, referencing Adam Scott and young Rory McIlroy as examples of pure, aesthetically beautiful golf swings that observers immediately covet.

“It wasn’t the golf swing. It’s what he did with the golf swing. It’s what he took, which was this gnarly kind of tree that’s growing off in different directions, branches going everywhere. Funky as it was, idiosyncratic as it was, but the impressive control that he had of a golf ball, and just as much the confidence that he had in what he was doing. Seemingly so that no matter what I told him — if I had chosen at that point in time to tell him, as I think a rookie coach might do, well, there’s some problems here that we’ve gotta solve, we gotta start with your grip and then go with your setup, start with the first move in the backswing, and take this kind of forward-looking approach at correcting his golf swing, I don’t think he would have — he certainly wouldn’t have appreciated it.

“But the psychological skills that he brought, and the identity and self confidence he brought to that first session, he would have given me the middle finger and said, ‘You’re out of your mind. I do what I do and I’m really good at it,’ and gone the other direction.”

Cameron McCormick with junior players
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In addition to great ball control and an unwavering confidence in his abilities, McCormick said there was one other specific thing that really stood out to him about Spieth.

“He had this great desire, this almost insatiable thirst, to want to get better,” McCormick said. That was what was most unique about Jordan Spieth. He took all of that to the golf course on that first day that I spent with him, and he demonstrated that it wasn’t just talk, he could walk the walk as well. He wasn’t just talking about it, he was being about it. That’s what was special about him, and that’s what I look for in other kids.”

For more from McCormick, including why he thinks some talented young players regress in college, and how Spieth managed to shake off his nearly four-year slump, check out the full interview below. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on