Bubba: School Is In Session

DUBLIN, OHIO | Bubba Watson delights in telling people he’s never had an appointment with a swing doctor. He’s never been inclined to have somebody teach him the nuances of a maddening game.
That’s all good and well, and an important part of the Watson mystique. He’s The Natural.
But now we get this from The Masters champion:
“I’ve always thought about having my own school – Bubba School of Golf,” Watson said upon his return to the PGA Tour last week at the Memorial Tournament. “Doing a building, having the facility, make it up nice and then just tell them to hit balls and just practice. That’s all I’d tell them, and then I’d ask for my money.”
(Cue the laugh track).
Previously, the only purpose for buildings in Watson’s development as a golfer was to have tall structures to slice or hook over and around. That’s how he learned the game, instinctively. Put a peg in the ground, find a target and let the plastic balls rip.
For Watson, intuition has always circumvented the manual. So is he serious about Bubba School of Golf? You bet he is.
“I’ve always had a dream to do that,” he said.
What makes that remarkable is that after he won The Masters, Watson said he couldn’t immediately comprehend what he had accomplished on that glorious April day at Augusta National Golf Club because his dreams never went that far. Now we learn that Watson has dreams and, yes, they go farther than he would have us believe.
The Memorial Tournament was only Watson’s second since The Masters and he showed the rust, shooting 75-74 to miss the cut. He tied for 18th at the Zurich Classic in his only other start in seven weeks. Watson took the extended time off to be with his wife, Angie, and infant adopted son, Caleb.
Golf doesn’t need any more psychologists but here’s an unsolicited analysis of Watson’s mind-set over the past two months. He needed time away from golf to digest how dramatically his life – every facet of it from marriage to fatherhood to professional achievement – has changed. What he needed after The Masters was to return to his normal.
“My mind works differently, as we know,” he said.
The demands on his time have become intense and occasionally unwieldy. The few fans who are a quaint attraction for a little-known golfer can become a throng and a major distraction for a star. The cloak of anonymity is gone. Back home in Florida, Watson gathered family and close friends for dinner. Home is a safe haven.
“It was just about celebrating with them and making sure they knew it wasn’t just me winning the jacket, it was them winning, as well,” Watson said. “Getting the key to the city of Milton and then getting the key to the city of Pensacola, throwing out the first pitch for the local team there, the Blue Wahoos. It was fun to go back and do that.”
At the Memorial, Watson and his wife were hosts to “Bubba Bash.”
“We’re trying to raise money for the Bubba and Angie Medical Center in Kenya, 10 artists, Christian artists, just have an outreach, just trying to hopefully be a positive influence on people’s lives,” he said. “I wanted to do something different. I love listening to Christian rap.”
There was food, too. From Waffle House, Watson said. The Blue Wahoos, Waffle House. Just like home. It’s Watson’s way of staying grounded – and it is not meant to shortchange his golf.
“That’s what I’ve been missing,” Watson said. “I miss the game of golf, miss playing, miss competing, miss trying for championships. I just play the game of golf because I love it.
“I love the surprise of the different shots. I hit in the trees a lot, so surprised if I have a gap, (surprised) if I don’t have a gap. Trying to make it through those gaps. If people love it, that’s great. The more fans the better because then I can show off more in some of the wild spots I hit the ball.”
Watson’s historic shot out of the trees and onto the green on the second playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen at Augusta National was one of those out of a wild place. He’s had others. It’s Bubba Golf.
“The first time I met Jack Nicklaus was the Memorial Tournament, at a junior clinic,” Watson said. “I had to hit my driver in front of him, and everybody always saw me as a long hitter. So he’s talking to them, and he’s telling me to hit the ball. I was so scared. I had to hit it good. I had to show off for Jack. How are you going to impress Jack?
“I just kept hitting it hard, and I was hoping it would go out so fast that he couldn’t see it, so I could go, ‘Yeah, it went a long way.’ He had some age, so hopefully his eyes weren’t that good. It’s nice to shake the hand of a legend. (Nicklaus) did a lot for the sport, kept the game going, kept the game interesting, got the game to grow to where it is today and then other guys have taken it to the next level.”
Wonder to what heights the Bubba School of Golf can take the game.


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