The Tao of Bubba Watson April 10 2012

With a seemingly impossible shot off the pine straw, Bubba Watson set himself up to win the Masters on Sunday. After he sank the winning putt in a playoff, he stood on the green, hugged his caddy, hugged his mom and wept and wept. As has been widely reported, Watson and his wife just adopted a baby boy a few weeks before the Masters started. He’s had quite a run in 2012. As The Washington Post noted, he even bought a copy of the General Lee from his favorite TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” back in January. It was the culmination of a deal he had made with his wife after winning his first tournament.

Bubba seems like a guy who enjoys and savors life. He’s a stark contrast with Tiger Woods,  who as he berates himself and is kicking clubs around the course, doesn’t appear to be having much fun. What accounts for the difference in these two guys? I think an answer can be found in Watson’s post-victory press conference. It offers food for thought for leaders or anyone else who think the answer to life’s challenges is to keep grinding and grinding.

When asked how he felt about just winning the Masters,  Watson said he was happy, of course, but went on to say this: “The thing is, golf is not my everything. I’m not going to go home if I would have lost today, I’m not going to go home and pout. I’m going to think about the great times I had, the chance I had to win; I won, I get to go home and think about that. But tomorrow, there’s going to be a new tournament and y’all are going to write about other people. Y’all are going to forget about me tomorrow, you know what I’m saying. I’m going to have to keep living my life and do everything.”

That sounds like the philosophy of a guy who has figured out that there’s more than life to work. There’s as much joy to be had in a new baby or driving a hot rod as there is in winning a major. It’s all about perspective. It’s the kind of perspective that’s reflected in Bubba’s on course mantra, “If I’ve got a swing, I’ve got a shot.” The Tao, or way, of Bubba Watson is to take your best shot but not get too attached to a particular outcome.

As for Tiger, I think former pro golfer and current analyst, David Feherty offered an interesting take in an interview with Dan Patrick this week. His belief is that Woods is suffering from the “classic addict’s malaise — confusing fun with happiness.” Feherty is extremely open about the fact that he himself is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. He knows something about addiction.

Work is fun when you win. But, as Feherty says, fun is not the same thing as happiness. No one wins all the time. If winning is the only thing that matters, what are you left with when you don’t? The question that Bubba Watson seems to have answered is “What do you have in your life that makes you happy when you don’t win?”

It’s a good question for pro golfers and a good question for leaders. What is it for you?

12 Responses to “The Tao of Bubba Watson”

  1. Mary says:

    I really enjoyed this post Scott!

  2. Keith Townsend says:

    great post Scott – -I never saw Bubba Watson play before or heard him speak. I was watching the Masters and saw his post match interview and could see the true joy and gratefulness in his speech and body language. What a great story!

  3. Kathy says:

    Insightful perspective and blog post. The first time I can ever say I wish I'd watched a golf tournament. My dad was an avid golfer and would have been moved to tears by Bubba Watson's journey. Thanks for sharing the way you did.

  4. Brian says:

    Thanks for sharing this Scott – as someone who has been more on the Tiger side of the happiness continuum, I'm realizing very quickly that I need to adapt more of Bubba's perspective. It's not easy, but it is necessary.

  5. leoholahan says:

    It certainly appears that Mr. Bubba Watson has the makings of a champion role model for young people as well as golfers. That's a good thing!

  6. Phil Simon says:

    Excellent post and perspective. What does Tiger have in his life other than golf?

  7. steve says:

    Bubba epitomizes all that could be right with sports in today's world. Woods epitomizes a lot of what is wrong.
    Bubba also epitomizes the mentality of most of the Disc Golf world, of which he is a proud member! Thanks, Bubba, and go get 'em!

  8. David Young says:

    Between watching one of the best Sunday Master's days in a while and then Feherty's interview with Bubba, I am assured that all is right in the world…for now!

  9. Joe says:

    I agree that Bubba has a great perspective, but I believe the comparison to Tiger is unfair. Tiger has more scrutiny and pressure that virtually any other athlete on the planet. If he doesn't win, everyone jumps to the conclusion that he's "lost it". Doesn't matter if he's 2nd or 40th. The galleries that follow him dwarf every other golfer, except for contenders on Sunday. It's true that Tiger could benefit from relaxing a little, but expectations for him are way beyond Bubba, Phil, or any other golfer on the tour…

  10. Thanks for sharing your ideas in the post Scott Eblin, Yes is it really important lesson shows a perspective that leaders often overlook, on the pursuit of happiness, we believe that it is only success but is´t more than that.

  11. Bob says:

    I recall a few years ago when Bubba was kicking and throwing clubs. Bubba's was so critical of himself that his temper would flair to the point that his Caddie wanted to quit. Bubba has found Love, Religion and now Money. All is right with the world. Did you notice the $550,000.00 watch that he wears. Yes $550,000.00.

  12. Jana says:

    As a parent whose children have grown up with golf in the era of Tiger & Bubba, it is good to see that my kids are so proud to say that Bubba lived in our neighborhood and they have met him several times at our home Stonebrook course….he has helped with our kids clinics and is an all round A+ gentleman. I love that Bubba is grounded in his faith, genuinely enjoys the sport even on the bad days, and is true to his roots!! Way to to Bubba!!! Your Stonebrook Village family loves you, Angie and the new baby. Enjoy life because it is just getting started!!!!
    Jana

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