Bubba Watson: Teed Off
By Jayne Thurber-Smith
In an era when PGA pros are lining up to take advice from golf gurus Sean Foley, Hank Haney or Butch Harmon, Bubba Watson is listening to no one. No one other than his caddie, that is. A few years ago Bubba’s anger was getting so out of control on the course that his caddy Ted Scott asked him to calm down or he would quit.
“I knew I was acting immature between the ropes,” Bubba admits. “I was having fun off the golf course but not happy on the course. I knew Teddy was right, and what he said hit home. I had to come up with a new mindset. For him to say that to me, knowing he might lose the income from working for me…that meant a lot for him to step up and say something.”
A good caddie is important in golf, and to Bubba a Christian caddie is priceless, and he never considered letting Ted go.
“My caddy, my trainer Andrew Fisher, my wife Angie – they are all Christians,” he says. “I want my team to all believe in the same thing.”
Bubba knew he couldn’t get control of his anger on his own.
“I would get so frustrated, because I have this competitive fire going on the course,” he says. “We all have setbacks but God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. So I read my Bible and get key thoughts like ‘don’t worry about this shot you’ve blown off the first tee, you have 17 more holes to improve, 6 months to improve.’ The Bible is my mental coach now. After discussions with different pastors I’ve figured out what works best for me.”
Bubba’s tantrums have been replaced by what many have termed “Bubba Golf.” Tom Edrington from the Bleacher Report defined this mentality as “go for it, play to win, forget about all this mechanics stuff and just play some golf.” Golf announcer Nick Faldo says “Bubba just sees a shot and manufactures it. Nothing technical.” Sports Illustrated has called him “golf’s ultimate feel player.” Bubba agrees with them and adds:
“When I play ‘Bubba Golf’ I don't worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s just me being goofy and creative, havin’ fun.”
Bubba has sometimes been criticized for being too creative, trying to do too much with the ball and mostly by golf’s elite for having no professional training. He’s always received acclaim for his long drives and in his rookie year led the PGA Tour in driving distance (319.6 yards), but critics speculated that he didn’t have all of the other components necessary to win a golf tournament. He has silenced them by winning the Travellers Championship in 2010, the Farmers Insurance Open in January of 2011 and the Zurich Classic a few months later. Bubba believed in himself when the critics didn’t.
“I listened to my parents, wife, friends and the Bible instead of them,” he said. “The Bible says if you’re trying to be Christ-like, it doesn’t matter what others say, you don’t need to worry about that. I knew if it was God’s plan for me to be on the PGA tour He would help me do it. It’s been working out so far and it will until He has a different plan for me. I just need to believe in Him.”
Since bursting onto the PGA stage in 2006 being the number one golfer wasn’t the number one goal for Bubba as it is for so many other players. Back then he told a reporter: “My dream has always been to impress the fans and give back to charities."
He has held true to his dream and never fails to impress his fans, including more than 185,000 of them who follow him daily on Twitter. His Twitter profile reads “Christian, Husband, Pro Golfer who enjoys giving back to help others grow in life!” The charities he gives back to include Birdies for the Brave, The First Tee of Northwest Florida and the Ronald McDonald House of Pensacola, FL.
Along with fulfilling his dream of taking care of his fans and his charities, Bubba now has the bonus of being in the running to win the 2011 Fedex Cup. He says the winning paychecks help tremendously with funding the causes close to his heart.
“Winning is awesome,” he says. “A pastor friend of mine wanted to start a nondenominational church and I was able to help him out with that when I came into a lot of prize money really quick! It’s an honor to help the organizations I want to be a part of, so coming first in tournaments in January and then May helped me have more money so I can keep helping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive and want to beat everyone but the most important thing is being able to help those in need.”
Bubba helps out Birdies for the Brave not just for the many sacrifices our military makes on a daily basis but also because his late father Gerry was a Green Beret. Bubba recalls how Gerry was responsible for his nickname, because he was born such a big baby that Bubba reminded his dad of football player Bubba Smith.
His dad was the only one to give Bubba any golf instruction and he had the pleasure of seeing Bubba’s first win last June at the Travellers Championship. Bubba tearfully dedicated the win to Gerry, who unfortunately passed away from throat cancer a few months later.
Bubba is grateful to his dad for many things and grateful to his heavenly Father for everything. He comments that the top 1,000 golfers in the world are good golfers, they just haven’t had their break yet. When asked what attributed to his big break in golf he softly replies:
“Knowing that God has a purpose for me. No matter what, He has a purpose, and for some reason He has chosen golf for me. There are so many great Bible verses that mean a lot to me and they all have behind them the message ‘Jesus loves me.’”
Courtesy of Faith and Friends magazine
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