[INTERVIEW] UGA’s Alex Davidson Talks Bubba Watson’s 2014 Masters Victory and Second Green Jacket Win
PHOTO: Magnolia Lane, the entryway to Augusta National and the 330-yard stretch that players travel from the gate to the clubhouse (Credit: Lisa Peck)
On Mickelson’s Masters Miss
After shooting 76 in the first round of the Masters, Mickelson managed to come back with birdies on three out of his final five holes. None of his last-minute efforts were quite enough to save him, though. “Lefty” chalked his Masters miss up to lacking the mental acuity that he’s demonstrated so well in previous tournaments. He admitted that his mental game wasn’t up to its usual tournament level, as he found himself in a couple of “bad situations” that caused him to miss this year’s Masters cut by a single shot.
You do have to admit that Mickelson was in good (if quite surprising) company. Just take a look at other big names who missed the Masters cut this year – Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Luke Donald are all names making up the prestigious group of golfers who didn’t advance at Augusta this year.
Ultimately, what Mickelson lacked in a steady mental game, Bubba Watson made up for. Lefty acknowledged that he wasn’t sharp during the first round of the Masters and wasn’t able to overcome the big numbers as a result. Watson, however, was able to employ “Bubba Golf” to take first place in this year’s Masters.
On the Real Meaning of “Bubba Golf”
Bubba claimed his second Masters title in three years using a unique approach to the game, which he calls “Bubba Golf”. Watson says he’s never had a lesson and that his success comes from doing everything “his way”. Bubba Golf is exactly that, Watson’s one-of-a-kind approach that is unpredictable, instinctive and works. Watching him play, it’s plain to see that Bubba doesn’t get too technical about his game, or too caught up in his own thoughts – he goes out there and he simply plays.
Although he may never have had a technical coach (let alone a mental coach), Watson has a lot to teach us amateur golfers about a winning mindset. During the build-up to his big win, Bubba explained that after a good round in this year’s Masters he simply got away from it all—he wouldn’t even turn on the TV—in order to maintain his “zone”. He also commented that his cheering fans didn’t manage to get his attention, as he tried not to focus on the crowd at all to avoid getting overly excited or energised.
In a nutshell? Bubba is totally in the present when he golfs.
The idea of enjoying the game as much as Bubba does and not getting in your own way with negative thought patterns or nerves, well that’s something us amateur golfers can and should aspire to achieve in our own games.
On the Unusual Traditions of the Augusta National
My favourite tradition at the Masters is the Champions’ Dinner, which consists of a meal chosen by the year’s previous winner – this year’s was chosen by 2013 Masters winner, Adam Scott (check out a sneak peek of the menu here…) and was Aussie barbeque themed. But, past menus have included stranger choices including wild boar and elk (chosen by Mike Weir in 2004), as well as cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes (served up by Tiger Woods following his first-ever Masters win in 1998).
Another great Masters tradition is the all-out ban of electronics on the course. Imagine how peaceful it must be to release yourself completely from the attachment to your cellphone, tablet and other devices. While most people could likely guess that cellphones are banned from the course, a lot of people don’t realise that more unusual items like cameras, folding chairs (with arm-rests), alcohol, beverage containers and ladders are all on the list of items that you can’t bring with you to Augusta.
On Mental Game Tips from the Pros
What pro players including names like Watson, Woods, Palmer, Nicklaus and Player—all of whom have claimed the Masters jacket more than once each—teach us is that determination is a force to be reckoned with. The mental grit it takes to stand up to the pressure of being a former champion and come out on top two, three or four times over is the mark of unwavering focus and a truly strong mental game.
Spieth may have accepted defeat over the weekend, but his spirit was fantastic and he’s certainly one to watch. His spirit and determination won’t be broken and, if he can demonstrate that maturity at such a young age (don’t forget he’s only 20), then he’s almost certain to rebound and come back and surprise us next year.
Mickelson, on the other hand serves this year as a reminder of the consequences of nerves getting the best of him in a couple of “bad situations”. This year, I think it’s safe to say that the cracks in Mickelson’s game quickly became canyons, despite his last minute rebound.
The team here at UGA are often asked how to translate lessons from the pros into the weekend golfer’s game. Well, that’s the very reason that we’ve created this infographic demonstrating the importance of timing in the mental game of golf. We also share three quick-fire mental tips from the pros. All of that can be found at http://www.UltimategGolfAdvantage.com/infographic-why-your-mental-golf-game-matters/
About Alex Davidson:
Alex founded UGA to cut through the marketing “noise” of the golf industry and offer serious golfers a place to find genuine advice, insight and commentary.
Alex has authored a guide to mastering the mental game of golf, entitled “Think to Win”. More information about this guide (now available for Kindle) can be found at www.ThinkToWinBook.com
Alex can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org