Beware Of Genius

Masters champion Bubba Watson waves after receiving the traditional green jacket following the final round. (Mike Blake, Reuters/Action Images)
Masters champion Bubba Watson waves after receiving the traditional green jacket following the final round. (Mike Blake, Reuters/Action Images)

Maybe if we all put on 3D glasses we could better understand what Bubba Watson sees in his own mind before he does what he does with his clubs.

Not to worry. Enjoy Watson for what he is – a human golf video game – while he’s still in his prime.


What we need to worry about is what the Lords of the Masters may now start to think they understand.

The reason Watson doesn’t win every week is the same reason James Joyce suffered writer’s block; Edgar Allen Poe went mad and Hemingway committed suicide.

You can’t summon up genius on command.

But the rest of us can acknowledge and appreciate it when we see it.

(By the way, I am not suggesting here that Watson’s rare and raw talents are going to drive him to drink, distraction or a decision to take his life).

Self-taught Bubba Watson has a genius for the game of golf.

And “genius” is a word we always need to be careful with when conferring it in sports.

Ballesteros had a genius for the game of golf. Gretzky had it in hockey. Pete Maravich had it in basketball. Bobby Fischer had it in chess. Roberto Clemente had it in baseball. So, too, for a brief period did Sandy Koufax.

Those are just a few. There aren’t many more. The list is short.

Former world No. 1 Nick Price once said this of Ballesteros: “Most tour pros can find 100 different ways to shoot 66. Seve could find 1,000.”

Lee Trevino once said Ballesteros could “get up and down from a moving cement mixer.”

The drive that Bubba Watson hit on the par-5 13th at Augusta National on Sunday was positively Bunyanesque. It traveled 366 yards and left him with a little wedge into the green.

“I will never,” co-runner-up Jordan Spieth said, “forget that drive.”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Watson’s displays Sunday at Augusta National eventually wore down Spieth and the rest of the field.

Let’s just hope the Masters Competition Committee does forget it what they saw Sunday.

If, on the other hand, the Masters mahouts believe the sky is falling when a player hits a soft wedge for his second on 13, they are liable to try to fix what they think is a problem.

Except it isn’t a problem.

What will be a problem will be if they react by making the holes longer and the green complexes firmer, faster and close to impossible.

That will mean fewer roars on Sunday in and around Amen Corner.

Which is something Alister MacKenzie, the man who designed Augusta National, never would have wanted.

MacKenzie, by the way, was a genius, too.

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