Help from the Heartland: Alice Buckley having faith in Jordan Spieth
Like most astute golf observers, Alice Buckley is also concerned about defending Open champion Jordan Spieth’s dormant performance on the golf course. The 97-year-old third cousin to Spieth, Mrs. Buckley has never met her famous relative, but hopes to or at least speak by phone. She makes it clear she doesn’t want to interfere with his life.
I met Alice during a visit last year—after Spieth’s Open victory—with my in-laws Bill and Mary Ellen Hynd in East Moline, Ill. The Hynds are in the same retirement facility, Park Vista, with Mrs. Buckley. Alice’s mother, Maude, was a sister in Muscatine, Iowa, to Spieth’s great-grandmother, Hazel, who would marry a Spieth. Jordan’s grandfather, Don, who lives in Bethlehem, Pa., is from Muscatine and played golf as a youth, including for Muscatine High School.
In a visit with my wife, Mary, and me last week during the John Deere Classic, Mrs. Buckley spoke with concern about the state of Spieth’s game, and her motherly instinct kicked in when she said she thought he looked thinner. She’s hoping a return to the championship he won will give him a spark.
Seeing Alice is always a delight. To observe someone her age so engaged in life is remarkable. Born Alice Brei on March 13, 1921, in Muscatine, which is 40 miles west of the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River, she was the oldest of 15 children. Her life today consists of a focus on reading (she’s engulfed in the Winston Graham “Poldark” books now) and creating incredible needlepoint works of art. She makes greeting cards using needlepoint and thread in calligraphy style. The designs on the cover are exquisite, and Mary Ellen would often send them to us as encouragement after a job loss. Alice plays the organ and will regale residents on Fridays during happy hour with her skill at the keyboard. She first realized she was related to Jordan Spieth when he made his debut in the John Deere in 2013.
She said she'll be watching the Open from her room, likely encouraging Spieth while working on her crafts. She has a wonderfully resilient, confident outlook on life. When I asked her what her favorite season of the year was, she said, “Whatever season of the year it happens to be.”