Bubba Watson. He's—different.
If you follow him on Twitter, you know what I'm talking about. He's always posting crazy photos and videos from random events in his life. Then there's last year's boy band spoof with PGA Tour pals Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan—aka the Golf Boys—where he's dancing around barechested and barefoot in denim overalls. Yes, he's that goofy.
But the 2012 Masters Tournament champion has a different approach to the game of golf, too. In an era of high-profile coaches, video camera swing analyses and technical detail to the nth degree, Bubba is the anti-golfer. His form looks like something you wouldn't want to emulate—or should I say try to emulate—if you were learning the game. Because you most likely couldn't.
His father taught him the basics of golf when he was only six-years-old and he took it from there. He never had a swing coach or a teacher around to try to change him. He never wanted one. And judging from his recent success, he doesn't need one.
You want more unusual? Bubba plays with a pink driver. And sometimes, as he did at the Masters this past week, he wears the same outfit everyday. He does so with a purpose, however. His custom-painted pink Ping G20 driver is being used as part of a year-long campaign to raise money for charity. Ping is donating $300 for every drive (up to 300 drives) Bubba hits over 300 yards. (And now you can have one, too.) And the white Travis Mathew brand outfit was worn to raise awareness—and funds—for Fresh Start, a California-based organization providing cosmetic reconstructive surgery for children with physical defects.
That's taking success on the golf course to an entirely different level.
On a recent media tour to talk about his Masters victory, Bubba made a stop at "The Late Show" in New York City where David Letterman asked him how he would describe his style of play. Bubba responded with one word: "Awesome."
There were smiles and laughs. But it's true.
People are learning a lot about Bubba Watson lately. That's what becoming a major championship winner in the world of professional golf does for you. In covering the PGA Tour for the past few years, I can say I knew him when—when he had short hair and just as short a temper as an "up-and-comer" on the Nationwide circuit, the self-proclaimed "proving ground" of the PGA Tour. It's the minor league of professional golf.
Out there, Bubba would throw mini-tantrums and golf clubs. He would yell at television cameramen and anyone who might get in his way when he wasn't fulfilling his own lofty expectations. But that wasn't the real Bubba Watson.
"A few years ago, I was living the wrong way," he explained shortly after receiving the coveted green jacket for his Masters victory. "Every golf shot was controlling how mad I got, how I was on the golf course. But off the golf course, outside the ropes, as soon as I signed my scorecard, I didn't care if I had shot 90 or 60. I was the fun, goofing‑around little kid—joking around with everybody. But on the golf course, I was just going the wrong way because I thought I was good enough to be where I am today. I was so wrapped up in what everybody else was doing. Why is he beating me? Why is this? Why is that? Why can't I make putts? Why can't I make the cut? Why can't I do this?"
The answers came when he put his faith in God first in his life.
"My wife, my caddie, my close friends that were here today watching, they told me I was going the wrong way," Bubba said. "I gave my life to the Lord in 2004 and I knew that If I was going to live my life as a Christian, I couldn't continue to live my life that way. And so I had to change. My caddie said he was going to walk away from me, even though he knew I was a good player. He said he was going to walk away because he didn't want to see a good friend go through that struggle. It hit home. It's a slow process. I've been working hard. This year, it's gotten better and hopefully in the years to come it gets even better."
The results speak for themselves. They are better. Bubba is no longer just a PGA Tour sideshow because he hits the ball farther than anyone else. He's a major championship winner and now the No. 4 ranked golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
But those accolades—and the aforementioned green jacket—they're secondary. His Masters triumph on Sunday was made more meaningful for two other reasons—reasons Bubba recognizes as the most important in his life—his faith and his family.
Just a week earlier, he became a father when together with his wife and best friend Angie, a former WNBA athlete, they adopted a baby boy named Caleb. Bubba now had a family to celebrate not only his Masters win with, but Easter as well.
"This is the day Jesus is risen," Bubba said. "Good Friday was when He was crucified on the cross, and today is Easter where we celebrate that He has risen. For us, that's salvation to go to Heaven. He took all of our sins from us."