The pandemic caused many lapsed golfers to pick up their clubs again, but our favorite returning player might be Joseph Maguire, a high school freshman from Port Washington, N.Y. Joseph is autistic, and this past year has been especially lonely and difficult for him with less access to teachers, coaches and friends. Although Joseph didn’t exactly fall in love with golf when first introduced eight years ago, this summer he discovered it was a very fun way to stay physically and socially active outdoors—and bond with his dad.
A month before the pandemic shut down normal life in the United States, the foundation Autism Speaks announced it was making 2020 the ‘Year of Kindness’ for people with autism, through 1 million acts of kindness big and small. A mission that has been made harder, but perhaps also more crucial by the events of a terrible year. One such act, in which Golf Digest proudly participated, was organizing a lesson for Joseph with his favorite golfer, Jordan Spieth. Jordan’s younger sister, Ellie, was born with a neurological disorder, and she has been a driving force in his efforts with the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation.
Both parties wish the lesson could’ve been in person, but like so many in 2020, they made due over video. So Joseph hit balls in a simulator at Five Iron Golf in Manhattan while Jordan instructed from Dallas.
Actually, it’s a pretty cool world we’re living in.