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Bubba thumbnail no text

Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life

A conversation with Professional golfer Bubba Watson and Richard E. Simmons III at The Center Mens Breakfast at The Country Club of Birmingham, August 24, 2022.
Bubba candidly shares the victories and struggles in his life. Watch video on YouTube here

Richard: I want to welcome everybody. My name’s Richard Simmons, I’m the Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership. We go by the simple term “Center” now. And before we get started, I’m going to open us with a word of prayer.

Father, we thank You for this day and just this opportunity to gather, to be together with friends and to fellowship and enjoy a good meal. Lord, we ask that You would bless and anoint our speaker Bubba Watson, that this would be just a real enjoyable time, and also that You might use this to challenge us personally. We thank You for this food that You have provided. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Let me tell you what we’re going to do. Clearly, everybody in this room, it struck me, is interested in golf, because if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here. I don’t think you’d be here to hear Bubba. So, I’m going to start by asking a few questions just about golf and then we’ll move into a second part, which has to do with the subtitle of his book, where he talks about victories and struggles, which is something men love to talk about, their victories. They don’t like to talk about their struggles, and yet, we all struggle. We all are fighting a battle of some kind, and then we’re going to end by talking about his faith. And once he’s finished, then I’m going to take five minutes just to wrap this up. We’ll have you out of here before eight o’clock. All right. So that’s the deal. Real quickly, a lot of people don’t know the context of the shot that you hit. I don’t think they recognize or maybe recognize that you were in a playoff, correct? Just kind of let them know exactly what was going on.

Bubba: Well, first of all, they said that shot was amazing. That six-inch putt that I had to win, that was more nerve-wracking, then my eyes started tearing up and I was like, stop doing that. Just, just make it, you know, so the whole context, I gotta, I’m just, I talk a lot, so, I’m going to tell you all this stuff, but there was a young lady the week before, in 2012, she missed the putt. My favorite golf tournament to watch, now they took it away, but when they jump in, I think Poppy’s Pond. And so, a girl, one of our friends who caddies, she had a putt foot and a half, and she missed it, but we were recording for the caddy, you know, going to show him them winning and we deleted it obviously because she missed. And so now a week goes by and now it’s my turn and I got this little putt, and I was like, hold on a second.

Hold on. I don’t, I want to make sure I make this. And so yeah, so that’s what made that nerve-wracking to me, because now you’re thinking about all the stuff, your life, your mom’s over there, your friends are over there. You’re like, hold on, stop. Just make the putt. And so that’s how it started. But so, if you saw in the video, I hit the shot, I hit the tee shot, my shoulders go down. And at that moment I’m thinking about, I go back to 2010 when Martin Kaymer beat me in a playoff at the PGA championship at Whistling Straits when Dustin Bunker, not a bunker, whatever that was, you know, where he got the two-shot penalty. And so soon as my shoulders go down is because I’m thinking back two years ago, when I lost the playoff for a major championship and because there’s so many things, fans, it could kick into the bushes, it could kick behind a tree. There’s so many things that could happen. So that’s what was racing through my head and walking down, having a great caddy on my bag, he’s in my ear, don’t worry about it. Let’s figure it out. And then Louis Oosthuizen hits a 3-wood trying to draw it. He didn’t draw it. It’s in the first cut of rough. He has about a four iron or a three iron in because he hit it pretty bad off the tee and then when I’m walking down, I’m looking into his lie, how it’s sitting down, thinking about how far it was. So I keep pumping myself up. I keep trying to talk to myself about the positive things and I get down there, I see that the crowd’s already made that path, like the ball needs to go this way because there’s a big tree, and so they had already created the path. And so, now, for me never having a lesson, I’m all visual. So it’s all visual. And when I see that path and then he hits this, whatever three or four iron short of the green, I was like, okay, that’s going to be a tough up and down, but a four gets me to the next hole. So then I get down to that path and I see the path and I’m like, oh I can hit this shot. The lie’s pretty good. It’s on pine straw. I’ve hit a hook many times in my life. Wind’s slightly coming from left to right which is going to help the draw. You know, and it’s probably five, seven miles an hour. And so then just more things, positive thoughts, were coming in my head. I never, once I got to my ball, there was never a negative thought that popped in my head. There was only one shot. Normally in the middle of the fairway, I have a billion shots in my head so I can, you know, I can do whatever I would like, but there, there was only one shot. And so it was all positive. Everything was positive. We had 134 to the front, pin was close to 30 on, so about 163, 164 to the pin. And so, it was a gap wedge 52 degree, with the adrenaline, hooking it, hitting as hard as I could, I knew that we’d get to the front of the green. It was a 135 club. And then, with the adrenaline, hooking it and hitting hard as I could, we thought that it had a chance to get to the center of the green.

So again, it was never, I was never, you know, a lot of times you go to the negative place, and for some reason, at that moment I was, I was in the right frame of mind, even though I was in the trees, the right frame of mind and then to get it that close to the hole, what, 12 feet or so, that was the toughest two putt from 12 feet I’ve ever had in my life. But yeah, so the context was, I mean it was just, I was down at a moment and then, you know, having a great caddy on the bag, walking down and seeing his shots, it just started elevating me in a positive way.

Richard: Well, that leads to, I think, a good question. You kind of basically, you developed your swing on your own. You don’t have someone that instructs you. How do you recognize what adjustments that you need to make?

Bubba: Yeah, it’s, it’s a good question. So, for me personally, it’s never, it’s going to, your book was on humility, so I probably shouldn’t say this, but I, you know, the physical part, the physical part has never been a struggle for me. I can hit shots. I mean, I could hit one, you know, I can make it curve, do all these things with my hands. And the problem for me though is, man, I start thinking about how great breakfast was or what basketball game is on TV or what football game is on TV. And then I hit my shot. And so I’m just not there mentally. As my book shows, I have mental problems, but you know, so I, when I’m in the middle of the fairway, there’s a, like I said, there’s a billion shots I could hit. So, I’m always thinking, and sometimes I lose sight of what I’m supposed to be doing. So, when I play bad, it’s always, I can look back when I, when you dig deep in your heart and in your gut, you know that it wasn’t a technique flaw. It was, there was other things going on and I, that’s for me. Now there probably is a technique flaw, but for the most part, 99%, it’s, it’s all mental that I was focused on something else or focused on the negative.

Richard: Well, there are a lot of fathers here with young sons and daughters and one of the things that I found interesting in the book is that when you were a kid, you’d go out and just play with one club. And in the book, you said it turbocharged your development and your shot creativity. Can you tell us about that?

Bubba: Yeah. So, in 1984, there was a guy named Hiram Cook, a left-handed pro golfer at Tanglewood in Milton, Florida. And my dad took me, my mom said, you have to take your son to play golf. I was six years old. Luckily again, God’s timing, God’s plan. There was a left-handed golfer, that’s the head pro, they didn’t really make left-handed golf clubs at that time. It was just harder to come by. So he gave me a nine iron. My dad cut it down to my size and I just hit golf balls. And then, as I grew up and kept playing, years down the road, I was 10 years old, and Mr. Cook had two kids and he would play his wife, his two kids and me, one club. And so, I just, that was interesting to me, and I finally started asking him why as I got older, and he said, because you’re learning every shot. It’s not about a technique. It’s about learning to chip with a seven iron. I’m learning to hit a bunker shot with a seven iron. I’m learning to play smart. You’re learning strategy of a golf course, to keep away from bunker or water hazard or penalty area, whatever they call it now. And so, that’s what I did. And so, when I grew up, even when I went to junior college first, I mean, I played with the guys with the driver. I played with every club in my bag except putter, because I didn’t want to mess up my putter, but so I played with every club in my bag at some point in my life where I could practice with every shot.

Richard: That’s cool. I got a kick out of this. Bubba’s wife is very athletic. She apparently was a basketball player and I think really good. And you share in the book how that when she might be struggling with her free throws, she would go out and shoot free throws for hours and she could really never understand why when you might be struggling with your game, why you didn’t go out to the practice tee and just pound balls for hours. And I share that because what is your kind of philosophy on practice?

Bubba: So, I practiced, I love playing golf, but, at a golf tournament, you know, you were just out there for five hours or whatever, and so, for me, if you’re playing bad, why do you want to keep practicing bad stuff? And if you’re playing, if you’re playing really, this is what my dad taught me, not if it’s right or wrong, but this is what he taught me. And so, if you’re playing really good, why do you want to go waste it on the range? And so, when I get done, I’m done, so, good or bad, we’re off, we’re, we’re leaving the course. It’s worked for me. So, it worked out good.

Richard: But it really, when it comes to practice, really is your style just to go out and play?

Bubba: Yeah. Because I, you know, on the range, we’re all, we can all hit it in a big field. Right? And so, and then if you hit a bad shot, guess what? You get another ball, you get like a Mulligan, right? You get to hit another one until you like it right? On the range. And so, I want to go out, you’re hitting at my course or the courses I play at, I try to hit driver everywhere. And so, I can practice drivers. That’s 14 drivers. Then you got your irons, you got chipping, you got putting, so you’re already doing practicing on 18 holes. It’s just more condensed. And so that’s the way I do.

Richard: I gotcha. You also said that until you turn professional, that you carried your bag most of the time and that, and I got a kick out of this, that you said that when you were starting, if they didn’t require you to have a caddy, you probably would’ve just carried your bag. But I love so much of what’s in the book about your caddy, your relationship with your caddy, Teddy. Tell us about that relationship. And also, I’m kind of curious, how important is your caddy to you when you’re playing?

Bubba: Yes. For me, 2006, I went halfway through the year, Ben Crane, I met him in Bible study, and he said, man, I know you’ve been looking for a caddy, a professional caddy that’s been out here and I have this guy named Ted Scott. And he said, but he can’t work for nine weeks. And I was like, well, that doesn’t help me, like, nine weeks from now, I don’t even know what I’ll be doing. And so, he said that he was about to have his first child and he wanted to be home. And so, I call up Teddy and tell him that I don’t care about his adding skills, I don’t care about anything that he knows about the golf game. I wanted a man of Christ because I wanted, I wanted a guy that’s trying to do the same things I’m trying to do in my life. And so, I could lean on him, problems I have in life, problems I have mentally on the golf course, so that’s really what I was looking for. And so, nine weeks go by, and so Teddy, like I said earlier, in 2012, he’s in my ear, just talking to me, giving me positive thoughts, giving me positive insight. Fifteen years, he was on my bag. And then, you know, I had a wrist problem last year. Now, I’ve got a knee problem. Three months ago, had surgery. And so, you know, it came to the end of it where I said, man, you need to go help some other young kid that could, that you could influence like you did me for 15 years and help them, guide them. And luckily, got on Scheffler’s bag, Scottie Scheffler, who we played together last year in New Orleans team event. So yeah, I mean, it worked out. God’s timing is good because he’s way better than I am, so he’s made more money with Scottie than he has with me. But so, no, a caddy is very important. At that time, you know, at the time that I’m thinking of this is, I grew up carrying my own bag in college, junior golf. And so you’re like, why do I need somebody? I made it, you know, I’ve kept improving. But then when it gets down to the real stuff, the real challenge, the real nerves that where you have to pay for your own bills, that’s when the caddy really comes in and the right one in your ear and the right perspective can truly help.

Richard: Cool. I want to move to the second issue that I had mentioned, and the subtitle of your book is “victories and struggles in the course of life” and, you know, great athletes, great businessmen, we love to tell about our victories but generally, we don’t want to be very forthcoming about our struggles and I’ve written extensively about this, that so many men think that a real man doesn’t struggle, a real man doesn’t get depressed, a real man doesn’t cry, and all of this, this is some of the great, to me, the great lies of life that men buy into. Why don’t you give, would you give me maybe some thoughts on that?

Bubba: Yes, for sure. My, so my dad, he was drafted, he got drafted into Vietnam, served over at Vietnam, Special Forces Green Beret captain. And so obviously, you know, in our day and age, he’s a man, right? Like, he’s got shrapnel, he had shrapnel, on his right here, he pulled it out, shrapnel on his back. So, when he passed away in 2010, I have the piece of grenade shrapnel from his back. You know, in that time they couldn’t, didn’t have the medical equipment to take it out by his kidney. So we got it when he passed away. But so he’s a man. Like that’s how, my vision of a man, he’s tough as nails. There’s nothing going to scare him. And that’s a lie because there was a lot of things that scared him, but that’s where I grew up. And, and that’s how I grew up and thinking, that’s how you should be. And then, like in the book says, in 2015ish is where I started losing weight. And I was around, I’m around, you know, on a good day, 195ish. And so, I started, I went all the way down to 162. And I remember that going to doctors, I’ve been to doctors, I was checking my heart, checking all these things, and I had nothing wrong with me. And well, I had something wrong with me, but medically, I didn’t have anything that they could see on a monitor. And so, it was anxiety. It was, I was trying to become, I was trying to live up to a Master’s Champion. I was trying to live up to top 10 player in the world. I was trying to live up to be this great husband. I was trying to live up to be this great dad, trying to do all these things and smile to a group of people like you all. And really, I was more scared of losing world ranking points, FedEx points. I was, my whole life was wrapped around golf, and it was, I went to a place where I let my job dictate how I was. And so, in my head I would smile to everybody, but in my head, I had all these thoughts going on and I kept losing weight. Had anxiety, had chest problems, had stomach problems, obviously, mental problems. And then the Olympics came up. Olympics. I had a chance to make the Olympics. I did make the Olympics, but it was just gradually, I kept losing weight. I kept; I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do all these things. I didn’t, every time I ate a bite of food, it would hurt. And finally, the last time I checked my weight, it was 162.

So now we’re, from 2015, Olympics happened in 2016 and then I was seventh in the world in 2016, and I didn’t make the Ryder Cup team. And so, Davis Love asked me to be vice-captain. And that was probably my greatest, that’s a different topic, but that was my greatest thing that I’ve ever done. But so I fall at 62. I finally, I checked my weight. I’m at 162, skinniest I’ve ever remembered, fell to my knees and I said, Lord, just take me. I said, I don’t want my wife to see this. This is where I cry. I don’t want my wife to see this. And then I don’t want my kids to see this. My two kids are adopted, and I was like, I can’t be the person they need. And so, I fell to my knees, and I said, take me, and when I said, take me, I wasn’t, I wasn’t saying like, I want to die. I wasn’t thinking, having bad thoughts, I was just at a point where I didn’t know what to do, where to turn.

And then it hit me as soon as I said it, as soon as I heard take me, I went, what are you doing? If you have 30 seconds to live, if you knew that, or you had five minutes to live, why are you here? Why aren’t you in there with your wife? Why aren’t you in there with your kids? Here’s the cry. And so, and so, that’s what got me, got me. I was on my knees, leaning on my bed, I can vividly remember it. And so, I said to myself, what are we doing? If I have five minutes, if I have 10 minutes, 30 minutes, have a day, go in there. And so, I went in there and told her everything. And I said, first thing I said is, I’m sorry for who I am, just explained it all to her. And I told her that I’m not my dad. And I think my dad probably wishes he was different or was different. And just said, we need to communicate.

And so, yeah, so the dark moments, it helped me get out, but it was like in my head, it was so silly. It was so simple and so silly what I was saying. And I was so focused on trying to be this golfer, trying to get the TV to say how great I was as a person. But that golf, me three putting doesn’t mean who I am as a person. And it took me, you know, the Lord takes you in these struggles or these great events and these things and you learn from, hopefully you learn from that. And I learned from that. And since that day, I’ve been trying to help people. That’s why we wrote the book during the pandemic, because I wanted, at least if it’s not helping anybody around the world, it’s going to help me just to voice it, to get it off my chest. And so that’s where that started.

Richard: That’s great. I appreciate that. Appreciate those words. I do. I want to come back to, I want to come back to your first Masters victory. This is really fascinating. And you had just won the Masters and Graham McDowell had won the US Open two years before and sometime after the victory, I don’t know if it was the same day or whatever, but his caddy approached Teddy and said, these are his words, “Get ready for a year and a half of hell.” What did he mean by that? And how did that play out for you?

Bubba: Because usually that means you’re going to struggle at golf and, and your caddy’s going to have to suffer with you. And so, and the reason why that is, and like I said, in 2012, my dreams never went this far. That was my line when I sat down in the media center, I’ve never dreamed this far. And what that means is when you are 12 years old and you’re making the putt to win the Master’s or throwing the pass to win the Super Bowl, that’s where your dream stops. You don’t think about days like this, where you get to talk to a group of people, you don’t think about, you know, people throwing ideas at you and businesses and sponsorships and all these things. And so, Graham McDowell, he got in touch with me, and he said, you gotta learn the word “no”. And I was like, what does that mean? You know, I mean, I’m going to top of the world, I’m a Masters champion. And then I realized months go by, six months go by, a year go by, and we were like, man, I need to learn the word “No”. And because there’s so many things. People around the world want you to come. And I went to places I never dreamed of around the world. I went to events I never dreamed of, I’ve been a part of some things that I never dreamed of, and yeah, it was, and that’s, you know, that’s one of my things, 2013 was probably one of my worst years with me and Teddy and on the golf course. Because again, it goes back to that thought where you think a Master champion, well, next week’s going to be easy. That’s not the Master’s. I can win that one. And then, then you don’t and then you do this and then you, then it just starts going down, down, down because you, you lose focus of what got you to where you were, and you take your eyes off of it fast.

Richard: You know, in the book of Proverbs, it talks about a person that’s a real friend, a person that really loves you, is willing to confront you, is willing to, I think the word that’s used is reprove you. I don’t think we realize some of the, one of the greatest ways that we can love somebody is to shoot straight with them and tell them, you know, you need to know this. And in the book, you talk about Ben Crane and how he really did that in your life. Who is Ben Crane and how did how did his words impact you?

Bubba: Ben Crane, I mean, you know, strong believer helps lead Bible study on tour, first person I met when I got on in 2006, when I became a rookie on tour. Some things happened with my other caddy where he didn’t show up to work one day. And so, Ben was there and said, hey, why don’t you come stay with me? And so, I stayed at his house in Dallas, because of Dallas, Byron Nelson, I had to withdraw. And so, he started talking to me and that’s when we found out, that’s when I found out about Teddy. And then, years later, it might have been in 2013 or, or 2014 where Ben crane pulled me aside, I remember it was at Cherry Hills in Colorado, I think it is, and so, he pulled me aside and said, hey man, I think you’re going the wrong way. I think you’re, you need to focus, refocus what you’re doing. That’s great that you won these tournaments. It’s great you’re doing this, but you need to refocus what you’re doing. I don’t think you’re on the right path as a brother in Christ and so, you know, I’m a slow learner, so it took me a while, but I took the words and I said, man, what are you talking about? What am I doing wrong? And you know, you kind of, I’m stubborn. And so, it took me a while and then I caught on and then same thing that Teddy’s been saying, same thing my wife has been saying. And then, you learn from that, and it takes a few voices to get to me and luckily Ben was one to step out and say something to me.

Richard: You know, I really appreciate in the book that you talk about your faith as a Christian and after winning the Masters and having that year and a half from hell, you said that you wanted 2014 to be a year of rejoicing. And this is right out of your book. You said that Jesus was your Biblical role model that you wanted Him to be first in your life. Tell us about your spiritual journey.

Bubba: Wow. I’m still learning. Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty. But it’s, you know, it’s knowing that I’m trying to get on the right path. And, and with 2013, you know, after when the tour used to have a winter break, we would, me and my team around me would sit down and be like, okay, what are we going to do next year? Starting in January. And Teddy was involved in that, Ted Scott. And so, we came up with this idea of rejoicing, we’re going to rejoice, no matter what the shot looks like, no matter what rain comes at us at life, we’re going to rejoice. And so, you get on the right path, and you do that, but you know, then you fall back down. And so, my spiritual journey has been ups and downs, just like the book says, but you know, I got baptized in, I didn’t grow up in the church, so I got baptized with my wife the day after Christmas in 2004. It was the first time she’d been baptized as well. So we got married September 1st, 2004 and got baptized together. And man, like I said, I’m a slow learner. And so I stepped, I kept doing, you know, things that I shouldn’t be doing and learned from it. And I just kept growing slowly. And Teddy, the people around me knew it. They could see it, but at the same time, there were some things that we needed to get better at or be aware of. And different people in my life have helped me see that. And so, even today, even, even at my lowest point in 2016, 2017, you know, we’re learning from that, and I still have some bad days, like anybody would, but yeah, we’re trying to just keep growing and, you know, putting Christ first. If we’re being a light for Christ on and off the course, now my kids are going to start getting closer to YouTube, so they might be able to see me. So, I don’t need to put any more good videos out there for them to see me getting mad at a three putt.

Richard: Somebody did ask me this question, you know, since the Christian faith really is a relationship with Christ and you know, we pray and we talk, someone asked do you think Bubba prays on the golf course when he is in a tournament? I’m curious to know what your response for that would be.

Bubba: Yes. I pray, me and Teddy would pray before and it depends on who I was playing with, we might even pray with that player. Like Webb Simpson is a good friend of mine and we would pray, and it was never a prayer about good golf. I could care less if I shoot a hundred, I could care less if I shoot 60 it’s about who I was or what I was doing at that moment. You know, me and Teddy would sit, and we heard a bird, like at Augusta, we can hear birds every once in a while. And so we would, we’d be like, okay, I heard a bird, I heard a bird. So we were just thinking about how blessed that a bird can go around and have food. And so we were thinking about that. And so, every once in a while, we would sit and have a little moment. But I’ve never prayed to play good golf. I’ve never prayed to win. I’ve never, none of that. It was always about who I am, and my character and let people see that. And if I was doing that, I knew that I was going to be in the right frame of mind and hopefully help me play better and that I could make a cut, but it was never about that.

Richard: One of my favorite parts of the book, in fact, I even get got kind of emotional reading it, was one of your final chapters, the chapter was “Reflections on the Ryder Cup”. And I think that chapter reveals a lot about who you are today as a man and as a Christian and it’s a very powerful story. Would you mind maybe sharing that with these guys?

Bubba: I’d love to. So again, I said earlier, I was seventh in the world. It’s 2016. I’m struggling mentally, physically, and I’m seventh in the world, and some of those people aren’t, you know, they’re European. So really, I’m probably top three or top two American, and I’m still not on the Ryder Cup team because of the way things played out points wise and different things. And I called Davis, or he called me first and he said, hey man, I’m going to go with Ryan Moore. I said, man, he’s top 10 at all Fedex Cups playoffs. There was four at that time. And I said, he’s top 10. He almost beat Rory. Yeah, you gotta pick him. And I was, it was the last pick and I said, you gotta pick him, no big deal. And I said, but man, if there’s a way I can help y’all, I would love to. And he said, let me call you back. And I said, all right. And so I’m sitting in my office at my house Sunday night after Eastlake. And he calls me back, my wife’s in the kitchen and he calls me back and he said, okay, I got a cart for you. And what that means in our world is you’re a vice-captain. If he had a cart for you, that means you’re a vice captain. He didn’t say vice-captain. He just said, I got a cart for you. And I said, I’ll be there. I said, when do you want me there? And then about that time, my wife comes, it’s little glass doors. And so, my wife looks at me through the glass doors and she said, she said, well? And I was like, I said, no. And just shook my head, no. And she’s like, and then she just, she storms off. And so, I said, Davis, I said, Captain Davis, I said, Captain, can I call you right back? And he said, yes. And I said, all right. So, then I go in the kitchen, and I said, I’m going to be vice-captain. She said, no, you’re not. And I said, yes, I am. And she said, we’re not doing it. And I said, what? I said, cliche. I said, what would Jesus do? And then she goes, what do you mean? And I said, well, there’s 12 golfers and there’s 12 disciples. She goes, okay, what time do we have to be there? And I said, I said, you know, and then, so now I get back on the phone with Davis and I said, look, but we’re crying. Davis is crying, I’m crying. And I told him, I said, I can’t wait to be there. And he said, you know, they don’t know. They don’t know where my heart is. They don’t know, the players, the vice-captains and Davis, I’m just sharing it to them over the phone. And I said, man, I can’t wait to get there. And so, then I go and explain to my wife how I want to help people. I just, you know, where I was at in my life. I want to just help people. I want to, I want to be a force to help people.

And so, we show up, the first person I see, he tells me to show up at two o’clock, they’re going to announce at two o’clock that I’m a vice-captain. So, he didn’t want anybody in the world to see me show up. So, we land around two o’clock, get to the hotel around 2:15, first person I see, a car right behind me is Ryan Moore. And Ryan Moore, it’s hard to get to know Ryan Moore, but I’ve known Ryan Moore, we bought houses together out in Arizona right down the street from each other. We became members of Estancia Country Club in Scottsdale. So, I have known Ryan Moore since 2007. So, I know him quite well. And he’s deer in headlights. He doesn’t have, he doesn’t talk to many people. He’s real shy and him and his wife are there, and they have their bags. And I said, hey, man, let me grab your bags. Let me show you what to do. And so, I went in there and showed him, try on all your clothes. Here’s the person that’s going to make sure they fit right? You go over there and tell her what you need longer, shorter pants, whatever. So that was the first person I saw. And so that was another light in my head that God’s plan was so much better than what I could imagine. Obviously, I want to play golf. And then the next person I see was Jim Furyk. And Jim Furyk says said, why are you here? He goes, you’re seventh in the world. There’s no chance I would be here if I was seventh in the world. I said, I want to help, man. I’m more passionate about this than anything else. And I was the last one. I don’t drink alcohol, but I was the last one to leave the room, a team room, big old room like this, last one to leave the room, first one to wake up, and Davis put on the wrong clothes a lot. So, I had to, Davis that’s the wrong shirt, man, you gotta get a new shirt, and Davis would text me at three in the morning, be like, hey man, what do you think about this? And I’m like, yeah, man, it’s perfect. I made sure that I had my phone. So, I was doing everything I possibly could do to help them to be their best and forget winning, just be their best and show the game of golf in a fun spirit. And so, it was a dream come true. It was something I’ll never forget that I, and I learned a lot, a lot about myself. I learned a lot about myself. And again, those are small things that helped me start. It takes a process, but start getting out of that 2016, 2017, I went to lowest point 2018. At the end of 2017, I started coming out of my own struggles and that one of the things, key things that helped me, that Davis trusted me enough. And at the end of the week, they all were very appreciative, but they saw the real Bubba.

Richard: And, as I recall, the United States had not won the Ryder Cup for a period of time. Is that correct?

Bubba: Yes.

Richard: Tell about what happened and the results and then, I mean, cause it was very powerful what you said.

Bubba: You know, at the end of it, well, first of all, I realized that we lost every time I was on the team and as vice-captain, we won. So, I said, I should be honorary vice-captain every year. You know, and there were some people there, there’s some people that I’ve got to meet, like Brooks Koepka, Brooks Koepka was playing in Europe. Then he just came over to United States and started playing. So, I didn’t know Brooks Koepka really, and then that week I got to meet him and, and I’m not going to say who, but there’s a lot of people that cried, pretty much 99% of the people in that room cried because on Saturday nights we, we talked as a team, just the team in there, no workers, nobody just teams and wives and caddies. No, caddies aren’t even in there, it’s just players and wives and vice-captains. And so, we got to talk and, and share, and I got to share the Gospel to all those people in that room. I got to share about the 12 disciples and what this means to me and what golf means to me. And that golf was so far down on my list at that moment. And still is, and it was a beautiful moment where I got to share. And then they won.

And then when I got interviewed right there on the green, it’s my first interview. I didn’t do any interviews because I told them it wasn’t about me. I’m not going to interview, the seventh in the world, I’m not going to do any of that stuff. So I didn’t interview. And on the green, when they won, I got interviewed, and I said, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done in golf. I said, winning the Masters twice, getting my tour card, which was my first goal was getting my tour card. And I said, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. And Davis, you know, there’s a few people, Brandt Snedeker went three and oh, I think, and I followed his singles match. He said, Bubba, you cannot leave me. I need your help. And so I walked with him and I called Teddy. We had an earpiece; Teddy was driving my cart. I said, Teddy, Ryan Moore. Because I, that my two groups on the singles was Ryan Moore and Snedeker. So that’s who I was bumping back and forth. And on the fourth hole, Snedeker was already two down. He hits it to like, I just show up to him and he goes, where have you been? I’m two down. And I was like, man, I gotta help this other guy, man. Y’all are so needy, and so, he hits it to like six feet, makes a birdy, it’s par three. And he makes a birdy, and he goes, so we’re walking. I mean, we’ve got 150 yards to the next hole. They kind of chopped up the golf course a little bit at Hazeltine, and he said, he said you are not leaving me. So I was like, okay, gimme a second. So, I walk away from him, and I get my earpiece and I said, captain, I’m sorry, I gotta do this. But Snedeker needs me. And he just won his first hole. I think I can help him. And he said, perfect, whatever you feel is best for the team, you do it. So I said, okay, so now I call Teddy, who’s driving the cart. He’s in front of us. He’s already at the tee and we’re walking. I said, Teddy, do me a favor. You go up to the next group. You’re going to be by yourself. Ryan Moore needs his family. If you put his mom and dad on that cart and his wife as well, so now there’s four people on this cart, I said, when you put those three people on that cart, Ryan Moore will win. And he goes, everybody’s like, how do you know that? And I said, because he, his family is most important. And I said, when you put his dad there, when you know his dad is inside the ropes and he can see him, there’s going to be a change. And he battled with Lee Westwood, I think it was Lee Westwood, maybe. So, it went down to last hole and he won that hole or whatever, but yeah, I said, that’s going to change his whole mindset. And so that’s what we did. We changed at that moment, you know, instead of me going back and forth. And that was just because I knew these people, I know how they interact. And that’s the part that I love more than anything is trying to help people, instead of me sweat over a three-footer, I’d rather them sweat over it. But, and so, you know, at the end of it, meeting Brooks Koepka, we’ve, you know, you’re not supposed to know this, but we’ve FaceTimed many times when we’re off the golf course and trying to shed light on him and love on him and there’s many people around the golf community that I’ve helped, not helped, that is the wrong word. I’ve tried to guide in the right way. And that’s more fun to me, you know, in the locker room, they won’t acknowledge that I’ve talked to them off the course, but it’s been a blast and a fun time and obviously that week they won, and it was just a, it was a thrill of a lifetime to be part of that.

Richard: That’s cool. That’s good. All right. You’re forty-three years old.

Bubba: Yes.

Richard: Correct. And you’ve had a lot of amazing experiences. You’ve had a lot of struggles. What wisdom would you impart to these men as we kind of shut this down? What wisdom would you give to them for as, as a man, but also as a Christian?

Bubba: I think it’s the same, you know, learning from my dad, what I saw and he communicated in a way to my mom and that it didn’t matter how mad they were at each other or how mad they weren’t or how happy they were, when he left to wherever he went to go, just go to the grocery store, just go buy six pack of beer, or whatever it was, he always kissed her goodbye. And when he came back, no matter how mad they were or how happy they were, he kissed her hello. Like, that’s what I always saw. So I always saw the love connection. Always saw that no matter what they did, this is what they did. And, but he was very tough. So, he didn’t talk about his feelings. He didn’t talk about things. And so, with my lowest point, I realized that communication, I mean, September 1st will be 18 years I’ve been married. And so, the person next to you, you have to communicate. As a man, you don’t want to do that because you don’t want your wife to know that you’re just as weak as she is. Right? Like because we go off of like, we’re tough. We’re men, we’re this, we’re that. And, and then, on the same topic, you have to have a core group and that group could be two people. It could be three people. I mean, you might be lucky enough to have 10 close friends. I don’t have 10 close friends, but that close enough where you can communicate whatever you’re feeling, because more than likely you’re going through the same thing I’m going through. And so you have to have, you have to have trust in that person. They have to have trust in you. And one thing I am learning to do, which is hard for me, is to ask, how are you doing? Tell me about you instead of about Bubba. You know, get off of me. Let’s talk about you for a little bit. And that’s one thing I’ve learned writing this book, but also communicating with my team because some of my team, I’ve known Randall since I was 12. Randall played golf, Randall was valedictorian. And, whatever they do in college, he was real smart in college as well. I just know valedictorian, that’s the highest word I know. I was…and so, Randall’s my right-hand man and business partner and all the things that I do. And so, he’s the brains, I’m just the good looks. And so, you know, but there’s things in the book that Randall because you know, we, I actually had to read a book, my own book, and proofread it to make sure all that the things were correct. And Randall learned things about me, right? Because I don’t even share with Randall. I don’t share because I’m scared that he might judge me and he might say like, oh man, this guy’s not as cool as I thought. He’s weak. He’s this, he’s that. And so that’s the thing you have to learn as a man is more than likely we’re going through the same things. Right? We have kids, we have a wife, we have jobs, we have this, we have people. So that’s the thing we have to, we have to be open about is being able to share. And I’m not saying share to the world, you don’t have to write a book about it like I did, but it’s a core group, a handful of people, or two people that you can truly share with and bump ideas off of.

Richard: That’s right. Well, I will say that I commend you on writing the book. One of the things that I’ve learned is that you never know where the written word will go. You don’t know whose hands it’ll, I mean, there’re going to be four or 500 people that’ll take this book home and read it and there’s so much good in it. And there’s so much that I think that God will use in people’s lives. So, I commend you on writing the book. It’s a great read and I really thank you for being here. This has been a great event. You do a great interview. You really do. And I wish if we had more time, I’m sure a lot of these guys would love to, to hear, hear more. But anyway, let’s give Bubba a big hand.

All right. Real quickly. I want to just take five minutes just to kind of pull this together. I would ask you to think about this question as, as he was talking, as I was thinking about the book have you ever thought about why you’re here? What is your reason for life? What is your reason for your earthly existence?

Now, a while back USA Today did a poll and they asked this question that if you had the ability or given the opportunity to ask God one question and you’d be guaranteed an answer, what would you ask Him? And they got a lot of different answers, as you can imagine. But interestingly, the number one response was, if I could ask God any question and get an answer, I would ask Him, why am I here? And I think the reason that is so significant and so important for modern men is that it involves the issue of purpose. You know, what is my purpose in life? Why am I here? You know, the world and I’ve written extensively, the world has a very difficult time coming up with an answer. What is the purpose of life? And yet the Bible gives a very clear answer to the question. And the answer is God put us here to be in relationship with Christ. And that’s why when you ask someone, what is a Christian? You get all kind of responses. A Christian believes this, a Christian does this. A Christian is a member of a church. But the simplest definition that I know that I think is really spot on is a Christian, is someone who has a personal relationship with Christ. And so, as we depart this morning, I would ask you this question. Do you know Him? Do you have a real relationship with Him? And I think that for me, one of the reasons, this is so important, particularly for men living in this crazy modern world that we live in is something that the apostle Paul said and Colossians 2:10, he says, in this relationship with Christ, we are made complete. And so, I asked you to think about that. Are you complete as a man? Do you have true peace in your life? Are you fulfilled? Does your life make sense in this crazy world we live in? And how are you dealing with, and this is the biggest issue that we see in men’s lives, how are you dealing with the fear in your life? How are you dealing with the fear in your life? And finally, are you prepared for life when it comes to an end? And it will come to an end. Jesus came to help us deal with these issues. And I share this because I would invite you to go through The Investigative Study. I found it’s helped more men and so many of you have been through it and will say that it’s been life changing. So, if this is something that you were really interested in doing, if you’re interested in pursuing some of this, put it on the card, you can send it to us in the mail, or you can leave it on the table. But this has been a wonderful morning. Bubba that was just terrific. Thank you. Let me close in prayer.

Father, thank You for this day. We’re grateful for Bubba Watson and his life and his transparency, his willingness just to share his life and his heart. We thank You also Lord for Your son, Jesus, Who makes such a difference in a person’s life. Now I pray Your blessing on these men as we leave and go out into the world, do our jobs, be with our families, do what we do. And we just thank You in advance in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

Growing up in the small-town of Bagdad outside of Pensacola, Florida, Bubba Watson dreamed of being a champion golfer, and he has more than fulfilled that dream with twelve wins on the PGA Tour, including two Masters. A man of faith, he loves spending time with his wife, Angie, their two children, Caleb and Dakota, and his friends.
Bubba is also a big supporter of his hometown, where he is part owner of the AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team, a car dealership, a candy store, and a driving range. But his family’s support of the Studer Family Children’s Hospital and the opportunity to help improve the community provides him the greatest satisfaction.
Bubba Watson’s book Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life can be found on Amazon.


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