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The Enigmatic Mr. Watson



Growing up in Connecticut, I attended first Greater Hartford Open, then the Buick Championship, now the Travelers Championship most every summer.

Of all the tournaments I watched at TPC River Highlands, the only one I saw to its Sunday evening conclusion was in 2010, when Bubba Watson vanquished Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in a playoff after coming from six shots behind Justin Rose’s 54-hole lead. Watson was overcome with emotion when he accepted his first PGA Tour trophy. Tears streamed down his face as he leaned on wife Angie and he dedicated the victory to his father, who was back in Florida in failing health. As he addressed the cheering crowd, it was easy to sense that it was entirely his.

This past Sunday at TPC River Highlands’ 16th hole, where he had secured his maiden victory three years ago, an evidently very different Bubba Watson faltered. Leading the tournament at the time, Watson’s tee shot — a nine iron — came up short in the pond that guards the green of the 178-yard par 3. Watson, incredulous, threw up his hands and glared at caddie Ted Scott. Scott has seemed to serve a more active role in Watson’s life than most caddies—the tall Floridian has credited Scott in the past with helping build a more positive on-course demeanor.

After rinsing his tee shot, Watson proceeded to the drop area, conferred with Scott and hit a half-wedge shot that careened over the green.

“So you’re telling me that’s the right yardage,” seethed Watson, all condescension.

Viewers, especially those who have caddied before, cringed at the awkwardness of what had just happened. Watson ultimately made triple-bogey on the hole and finished a disappointing fourth place, two shots behind eventual winner Ken Duke.

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Watson and Scott have publicly made up (thanks, Twitter), laughing off the exchange as something that happened in the heat of competition. But nevertheless, the incident is bound to lose Watson some fans.

Image-wise, Watson’s last three years have been eventful, and not always in a positive way. He won the 2012 Masters in spectacular fashion, yes, but the prior summer, during a trip to play in the European Tour’s French Open, he was reportedly uncooperative with media requests during the week, made some comments that belied little engagement with the culture and promptly missed the cut in the event. The ordeal left European golf fans and media with the impression of Watson as a stereotypical “cowboy American” — culturally clueless and borderline boorish.

Early in 2012, Watson purchased an orange 1969 Dodge Charger, a “General Lee” of “The Dukes of Hazzard” fame for more than $100,000. For some, the extravagance smacked of the same indelicacy Watson exhibited in France but for most, it was merely “Bubba being Bubba.”

In 2013, Watson has had mixed success on the golf course while continuing to build his own personal brand off it, to the extent that some have wondered which side of his life has taken the lead. With new clothing sponsor Oakley, Watson made literal waves in April by appearing in a video that showed off a futuristic mode of golf course transportation: a hovercraft.

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The stunt generated almost as much buzz as Watson’s two appearances in the pro-golf faux boy-band The Golf Boys’ videos and only added to Watson’s visibility.

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Do not take this as a condemnation of Watson, though, for all its mention of his public foibles. Quite the opposite, in fact: his fun-loving public attitude and down-home roots make him an everyman figure the game has not seen since John Daly — the type of figure golf needs.

He also happens to be one of the longest-hitting and most creative players of the game today, which adds to his appeal by backing up the sizzle with considerable substance. But moments like Sunday’s, when he laid his own ill-execution at the feet of his caddie, available to all who were watching the telecast, are frustrating to all golf fans — this one included — who want the best to be true of Watson.

Here’s hoping Sunday’s behavior was an aberration, rather than an accurate glimpse at the real Bubba Watson.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.



  1. D-mac

    Jun 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Bubba is an emotional mess! Witness his wins always end in the floodgates opening up. Then, when he hits a bad shot, he blames his caddy. Yea, maybe it’s the swing…with more movement than a sumo wrestler after an all-nighter at a Mexican restaurant. Dude, get some help!

  2. MLH44

    Jun 27, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I believe Brad hit the nail on the head. They are playing for a “W” worth $300-$500,000. They are in the heat of competition and emotions are red lined. Bubba wanted to pull an 8iron, but Scott convinced him to use a 9iorn. If the 9iron lands 5 feet from the hole, Scott is a hero. As we know it did not therefore Scott was held accountable, unfortunately, publicly. Give Bubba a break, cause although he was the one pulling the trigger, Scott was the one that handed Bubba the gun. Add to the mix HD mics and HD cameras all over the place and what we heard/saw was probably more common than most of us would like to think. It’s golf at it’s highest level and if they can move on so should we.

  3. Brad

    Jun 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    @t Not a legend? Name one player in the top 50 in the world that has no swing coach, no putting coach, no short game coach, and no long game coach that has won a major? Many can be taught and programmed to do the right things but only legends CREATE greatness …fyi: you can’t.

  4. SC

    Jun 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Bubba is a one-hit wonder. The Masters will be it for him, as he is unwilling to adapt his game to the golf course he is playing. Take for example the Olympic Club last year, when he wouldn’t give up his driver, even hitting it off the deck a few times. That’s not how great golfers play the game. Also, anyone that buys a car with a Confederate flag painted on the top of it deserves no respect.

  5. wtfci

    Jun 26, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Based on this argument, you can string together disconnected events to make any person look like a monster.

    What Bubba does really well is to get people talking about golf that wouldn’t be talking about it. He gets people watching golf that wouldn’t be watching it. The TPC event was the first event after the US Open. This event gets almost no coverage. The attendance at the event was underperforming. Bubba’s falter in the last three holes was a great story that was told to people that wouldn’t have heard anything about it if he pared the 16th hole in the final round.

  6. Rich

    Jun 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    The Boss is always right? Right!

  7. Brett

    Jun 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    agreed^^^They play the game for money unlike most of us. what if the caddy was wrong? and i find this a non issue because certain people have been caught muttering far worse after a shot multiple times and dont get criticized for it. this is a non story.

  8. Brad

    Jun 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    This is very common in any working relationship. Read something this morning that put it in perspective. It said Bubba basically lost from $300,000-500,000 with that one bad hole. I know who cares when pros make so much right? No, like the great saying ” Don’t hate the player hate the game”. If my business partner and I made a joint decision that his call was correct and it lost us $300-500,000 I have a feeling I would give him some s@#t while still being fully aware of my responsibility in the situation. Don’t forget the fact that Ted said Bubba wanted to pull an 8 and he convinced him to hit the 9. All sounds like a great sunday on the PGA TOUR. Give Bubba a break…he’s a living legend.

  9. Patrick

    Jun 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    The problem is that this isn’t an isolated incident from Bubba. In fact, I’ve never seen a player more willing to blame his caddy that he. Multiple times on live television coverage I’ve seen it happen, and the commentators just ignore. It really makes Bubba look bad, and I’ve never been a fan as a result.

  10. C Masty

    Jun 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Scott threatened to drop the bag a few years back if Bubba didn’t change his on course attitude. One of the true testaments and reasons I play golf is because real players of the game learn to overcome on course adversity and play through. This was just Bubba showing his true colors. History does tend to repeat itself.

    • Tony R

      Jun 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      It wasn’t that big of a deal. I wish people would stop and think what these professionals are playing for. It’s not a 2 dollar Nassau at your munie.

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Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy



Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

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PGA Tour Pro and Parkland Alum Nick Thompson is Part of the Solution



The tragic shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida moved the entire nation in a deep and profound way. The tragic events touched many lives, including PGA Tour Professional Nick Thompson, who attended Stoneman Douglas for four years and was born and raised just minutes from there.

On our 19th Hole podcast, Thompson described in detail just how connected he is to the area and to Douglas High School.

“That’s my alma mater. I graduated in ’01. My wife Christen and I graduated in ’01. I was born and raised in Parkland…actually Coral Springs, which is a neighboring city. Stoneman Douglas actually is just barely in Parkland but it’s pretty much right on the border. I would probably guess there are more kids from Coral Springs that go to Stoneman Douglas than in Parkland. So I spent 29 years in Coral Springs before moving to Palm Beach Gardens where I live now, but I was born and raised there. I spent four years of high school there and it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Thompson’s siblings, LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson and pro Curtis, did not attend Douglas High School.

His reaction to the news was immediate and visceral.

“I was in shock,” said Thompson. “I just really couldn’t believe it because Coral Springs and Parkland are both wonderful communities that are middle to upper class and literally, like boring suburbia. There’s not much going on in either city and it’s kind of hard to believe that it could happen there. It makes you think almost if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. I think that’s one of the reasons why it has really gotten to a lot of people.”

Thompson knew personally some of the names that have become familiar to the nation as a result of the shooting, including Coach Aaron Feis, who died trying to save the lives of students.

“I went to high school with Aaron Feis,” said Thompson. “He was two years older than me, and I knew of him…we had a fair amount of mutual friends.”

And while the events have provoked much conversation on many sides, Thompson was moved to action.

“We started by my wife and I, the night that it happened, after we put our kids to bed, we decided that we needed to do something,” Thompson said. “The first thing we decided was we were going to do ribbons for the players, caddies, and wives. We did a double ribbon of maroon and silver, the school colors, pin them together and wrote MSD on the maroon section. We had the media official put them out on the first tee, so all the players were wearing them. It’s been great.”

“I got together with the media guys and Ken Kennerly, the tournament director of The Honda Classic and they have been amazing. The amount of players that had the ribbons on, I was just watching the coverage to see, is incredible. I actually spoke to Tiger today and thanked him for wearing the ribbon. We really appreciate it, told him I went to high school there. I mean the only thing he could say was that he was sorry, it’s an unfortunate scenario and he was happy to wear the ribbon, do whatever he could.”

Thompson is quick to note the help that he has received in his efforts.

“It’s not just me. My wife has been just as instrumental in getting this done as me. I just, fortunately, have the connection with the PGA Tour to move it in the right direction even faster. I have the luxury of having a larger platform that can get my words out and everything we’re trying to do faster than most people. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart so it was just literally perfect with The Honda Classic coming in town.”

Thompson has also been involved in fundraising that goes to help the survivors and victims’ families. GoFundMe accounts supported by Thompson and the PGA Tour have raised in excess of 2.1 million dollars in just a week.

“One of the most important uses for this money is counseling for victims, for these kids who witnessed this horrific event, or have one degree of separation,” Thompson said. “Counseling for kids who lost a friend or a classmate, who need counseling and to help them with their PTSD essentially. I think that’s one of the most important things is helping all these kids deal with what has happened.”

Thompson acknowledged the fact that the entire Parkland family is activated to help in the healing. As for his efforts, it’s the product of his recognition of just how fortunate his life has been and a heart for service.

“Golf has given so much to me that it was the perfect time to give back even more than I already have. It’s the best we can do. We’re just trying to make a difference. ”

Listen to the entire interview on a special edition of The 19th Hole with Michael Williams on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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TG2: What irons did Knudson finally get fit into?



GolfWRX equipment expert Brian Knudson gets his first ever iron fitting. He dishes about his favorite irons, some irons that didn’t work for him, and he discusses the wide array of shafts that he tried. And then, he reveals what irons and shafts he got fit into. His irons of choice may surprise you.

Check out the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!


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