Many people are disagreeing with Bubba Watson’s decision to forgo the long drive competition on the 10th hole at the PGA Championship. Watson hit a 3-iron, and said in the pre-tournament press conference, “There’s no reason to make something up in the middle of the practice round like that. That’s just me. Like it or not, that’s just who I am. That’s just what I think.”
Before I analyze Watson’s comments, here is the description of the competition from PGA.com:
“During a practice round on Tuesday, Aug. 5, all players will be offered the opportunity to hit one tee shot from the No. 10 Tee. The ball will have to come to rest in the fairway to be eligible to win the Long Drive Competition.
Awards will be given to the top three finishers with winners receiving a money clip inspired by the one that Jack Nicklaus received in the first of his two consecutive PGA Championship Driving Contest titles in 1963. That year, Nicklaus, using a persimmon driver and wound golf ball, hit a winning drive of 341 yards, 17 inches.”
There is also a charitable aspect to the competition, courtesy of PGA.com:
“Additionally, through PGA REACH, the charitable arm of the PGA of America, the top three finishers will be provided charitable donations of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 respectively, with the funds split equally between the players’ designated charity and the American Lake Veterans Golf Course. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the American Lake Veterans Golf Course is the nation’s only golf course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans.”
Watson went on to say that he will hit a driver on the 10th hole during the tournament rounds. “Yeah, it will be driver every day. I was just trying to prove a point that nobody cared about.”
Bubba has every right to refuse to participate in the competition. He is an ultra competitive athlete who wants to win the PGA Championship. He also hasn’t played his best golf since early June, so he has his game face on when it comes to preparation. For these reasons, I give Watson a pass for skipping this event to focus on winning the golf tournament.
I can also see the other side because it is just one tee shot for the fans and charity. Golf needs to add excitement, and the long drive is one of the biggest draws in golf. We all want to see these guys hit the ball 330, 340, and 350 yards because the average Joe can’t do that. In the end, the guys on TOUR are providing a form of entertainment, and bringing back the long drive competition is a fun way to add buzz to a Tuesday practice round.
What do you think? Did Bubba overreact, or should we give him a pass?
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)