The world of golf got it’s underwear in a bunch again Sunday after the sports’ favorite counter-culturalist, Bubba Watson, took home his second green jacket at the 2014 Masters. His celebration at a local Waffle House afterward with friends and family is significant not because the menu is cheap and cheesy but for the juxtaposition created when compared with the games’ purists.
Champ dinner @WaffleHouse! #hashbrowns #covered pic.twitter.com/rXuaHtXqj5 — bubba watson (@bubbawatson) April 14, 2014
Much has been said about Bubba’s style, lack thereof, or the brazen way he approaches the centuries-old game. While the pundits and purists poke fun at him for everything from his pink driver to his prickly competitive instincts, there’s no doubt he drives golf fans into two camps: the lovers and the haters.
To the two-time Masters Champion with the horrendous swing mechanics and noisy feet, all I can say is: “go on Bubba, eat your hash browns”.
For every Bubba Watson-like character with a PGA card, there could be thousands of kids out there who grew discouraged, disillusioned, or even gave up the game because someone drilled into their heads the idea that: “you’re doing it wrong”.
In most cases, every kid forced to endure re-education on a golf course was taught by coaches or parents who never got very far in the game themselves. Watching Bubba blubber into the arms of his caddy on the 72nd hole, after gutting it out against the younger Jordan Spieth, calls to mind the notion that sometimes the best compass is the one in your head.
The error in the environment is the constant tendency to look down upon, to criticize, and to even stiff-arm positive results because they weren’t crafted within a scientific laboratory like the driving range. There’s an element of art in every sport that should never be reduced to science.
Good coaching, even average coaching, can’t be under-rated when it is undertaken with passion and desire to teach. To pass on tidbits learned over time is a tradition that fits nicely within the atmosphere at Augusta and the legend that surrounds it. The expectation to absorb it all, however, shouldn’t be absolute.
Golf’s purists and traditionalists want to see the type of perfection that only a masterpiece like a Monet can seemingly convey. They wet their appetites over the perfect swing, the position of the player’s feet, etc. Commentators talk about head position, wrist action, backswing and everything else that furthers conversation and fills up dead air during telecasts.
None of them though would ever imagine using a 52 degree gap wedge, to strike a 45 yard hook, on a Hail Mary from 62 feet back in the trees, to win the Masters. None of them would ever aim for the green with a 3-stroke lead, but would rather lay up before the water hazard, when a second green jacket was still in doubt.
Watson’s art lies not in his obvious lack of mechanics, but in the risks he takes on the course. It’s in the creativity and individuality with which he approaches the game. If he’d ever surrendered to the nay-sayers and taken a lesson, his game likely would have fallen apart.
Not everyone is Tiger Woods, the sport’s sculpted Adonis, trained since two, to deliver the perfect swing, and the stellar sense of golf logic he further honed at Stanford.
Artists don’t take lessons. Nor should they.
What the purists will never understand, however, is that hash browns from the Waffle House serve as the perfect metaphor for Bubba Watson’s game: scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered and capped… and most of all, country.
As the rest of the golf world wonders what made him a two-time Masters champion, those of us who “get it” should sit back and let the man eat his hash browns.
Thanks for reading! “Testiclees” is a freelance writer, based in Seattle, who lives out his real-life under the fictitious name of Scott Gentry. Readers can view his blog The Testee Awards, interact with him @testeeawards on Twitter, email at [email protected] or “like” on Facebook.
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