The mere mention of The Masters is as stale as a 10 day old slice of Little Caesars Pizza sitting on a table in a college dorm room, but there is something about Bubba’s second win in three years that keeps nagging me.
We know that Bubba is a man with quirks galore. This has been covered from every angle imaginable.
A few examples:
- He owns the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard fame
- He has a hovercraft golf cart
- He has a penchant for crying during a mundane press conference
- He hits a pink driver
- He buttons his shirt to the top button
- He is married to a Canadian former pro hoop player who dwarfs the man
- He celebrated his latest Masters triumph with his wife and pastor at a local Waffle House
For some reason, he reminds me of a cross between a character out of Dan Jenkin’s fantastic novel, “Dead Solid Perfect,” and a Christian version of Big Earn McCracken. I would pay to see his antics during a off camera mid week pro am event. By all accounts he’s a deeply religious man who doesn’t partake in 19th hole revelry, but I still see a complete wild man.
Regardless of who Bubba the man is, what fascinates me is how he got to where he is today. He’s a genuine natural phenomenon. A grip it and rip it muni man to the core who never once had a lesson yet is capable of winning on golf’s grandest stage. He’s a low budget kid from small town Bagdad, Florida who grew up learning the game by hitting Whiffle balls with a 5 iron.
This type of success isn’t supposed to happen anymore. It’s extremely rare in this day of IMG academies, personal coaches, trainers, nonstop camps, tournaments and clinics for a natural to slip through the cracks unscathed and reach the pinnacle of sport. Seeing Bubba bend that stupefying shot on the 10th hole at Augusta in 2012 is akin to witnessing an Amur Tiger hunt in the wild. It’s rare. It’s wonderful.
And welcoming! I miss the days of artistic originality in athletes. What ever happened to George Gervin’s finger-roll, Rod Carew’s batting stance, Walter Payton’s high-steppin or Jamaal Wilkes’s release? Today they would have had those habits drilled out of them by the age of 12. This culture of kids only focusing on one sport year round may make the average players better than past generations, but it may also serve to stifle the creativity and evolution of a natural.
Marveling over Bubba conjures up thoughts of my favorite natural, Joe Montana. Joe had an uncanny ability to rapidly process information, improvise, and see angles before they actually developed. He was not your prototypical combine QB at 6’2” and 200lbs dressed in pads. He was more of an artist who did what came naturally in the flow. A bit like Bubba demonstrated a few weeks back. A Regular Guy Superhero if you will. It’s hard to imagine walking in the shoes of a LeBron or Blake Griffin because they are so athletically superior, but most can relate to walking around in a Bubba-esque body. If only I could crush a 325 yard drive through an opening the size of my kitchen.