WHY I LOVE BUBBA GOLF
Twenty years and 15 miles per hour of clubhead speed ago, my grip-it-and-rip-it style led my favorite golfer, Jack Nicklaus, to say some nice things about my swing in Golf Digest. I'd just won the 1991 PGA Championship. Jack had no idea, but I actually taught myself how to play golf by watching him on television in the 1970s and by reading his Golf Digest series done in cartoons called "Jack Nicklaus' Lesson Tee." That's how I learned the grip, the stance, how to cut it, how to hook it. I'd go down to a baseball field in Dardanelle (Ark.) and try all the shots. So, you bet I was excited to see another self-taught player win the Masters this year. I love how Bubba Watson is all natural and all feel in the way he plays. I also love that there's no holding back. Reminds me of me. His move is absolutely gorgeous, and it's cool to see someone totally different, with a big swing and not trying to shorten it.
I don't think there's anyone in the professional game today -- maybe ever -- who uses as much hand action as Bubba Watson. He can create any shot he wants using his hands and wrists alone. Flip 'em to hit a hook, or open 'em a little to hit a cut. That's what makes him so beautiful to watch. But it's also one of those things you really can't teach. When he gets older, he'll learn like I have that your hand and wrist action deteriorates. But for now, I hope he sticks to his style.
I've only played with Bubba when we were paired together at the Sony Open two years ago, and a couple times I managed to drive it past him. "The old man's still got a little bit in him," he joked. I tell amateurs all the time that the most important part of the swing is from just before impact until just after. For righthanders, it's when the club swings from your right knee to your left knee (left knee to right for Bubba). Nobody ever teaches that! They say right shoulder this, left shoulder that. All that matters is where the clubface is pointing at impact, and Bubba controls that with his hands.
It really doesn't matter what you do going back, and it doesn't matter how you finish. It's all about how your hands swing that clubhead to the ball. When the face gets a little too open at impact, Bubba just moves the ball more forward. When it gets closed, he moves it back. That's about as technical as he gets, and it's how I love to play the game.
-- John Daly with Craig Bestrom