In a sport dominated by technology, innovation, science and statistics what a refreshing change to see Bubba Watson slip on his second Green Jacket and become a double Masters Champion last night.
There’s no doubt, Bubba is different to almost every modern professional golfer playing the world tours.
He uses a pink driver with a pink shaft, he’s never had a golf lesson and his wedge goes the same distance most people hit a 7-iron.
Bubba Watson – The Elvis of Golf
When he hits the ball the tall left hander looks like Elvis Presley working a microphone and in his spare time he’s in a boy band, “The Golf Boys,” with fellow US PGA Tour players Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane.
Bubba’s car of choice is the iconic “General Lee,” a 1969 Dodge Charger originally used in “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show, which he bought for $110,000.
The average golfer today is exposed to so much powerful and persuasive advertising aiming to sell the secrets to better golf, including longer drives, fewer putts, greater comfort and higher energy levels.
When you book a swing lesson, you are as likely to end up having your launch angle and spin rate analysed on a piece of software and technology once used to track missiles used by the world’s military.
If you’re lucky, your results and stats can be transmitted to an app on your mobile phone or stored in a wrist watch that also tells you how far you are from the nearest hole.
At the push of a button you can share all of this with friends through social networks, or better still a social network created exclusively for golfers.
Bubba Watson – Hometown Boy
Bubba still lives in his hometown of Baghdad, Florida, U.S.A and still knows the people he grew up playing golf with.
He doesn’t really ask anyone to look at his swing, most commentators wince when asked to comment on his action. In an era when drivers are designed to lower the spin and the ball is created to stay straighter and spin less from side to side, Bubba likes to shape it and loves to spin it.
He’s one of the few top golfers comfortable with hitting it both ways and shaping clubs as short as a wedge – think about the incredible hook shot he played from the trees at Augusta’s 10th hole – to win a playoff for his first Masters in 2012.
The 36-year-old is a self-made golfer, a truly unique athlete and a complete exception to the formula for success that any college, sports performance institute or national golf union worldwide is currently preaching.
Bubba is good for golf, because he takes a natural approach to the sport. He reminds golf fans of a bygone golden era when Arnold Palmer had his powerful twirl, Lee Trevino played with a laser fade and Jack Nicklaus stuck with a swing and a style that looked comfier than leather slippers.
Golfers today can take a lot from Bubba’s play. Find your style and swing, one that fits your body and which you can live with and go play. Enjoy your time on the course and get committed to everything you do, if it works great – if it doesn’t keep smiling until it does.
Compare Bubba with former Masters Champion Mike Weir, a fiercely professional and dedicated competitor whose swing looks robotic and whose every move appears contrived.
Mike has disappeared from the world stage and now struggles to keep a tour card. Would he do better if he went in search of his “inner Bubba.”
Another great way to copy Bubba is to let the golf course be your guide. If the hole shapes a certain way that best rewards a shot shape, then play it that way and let your mind create perfect pictures of the ball flying with the camber of the hole.
Bubba sees it, feels it and does it.
He’s one of the few artists left in the world of top professional golf. His green jackets put him in the same unique fraternity as a Phil Mickelson with the appeal and popularity of a Seve or a Palmer.
It was amazing to see the Augusta patrons holding out their hands to high-five Bubba as he walked to the scorer’s hut. He is one of them, an everyday American boy with a special talent.
Today, I see Bubba alongside Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as being two of the most interesting people in the sport, who never cease to entertain and who perfectly combine competition with fun and a healthy perspective on real life outside of the big-money circus of professional golf.