On the Road: Bubba Watson's family and training power him on the course
When they travel around the world for golfing tournaments, the Watson family clamors for the beach.
“My 3-year-old loves it when the town has a beach,” Bubba Watson tells SI.com. “We try to rent a place on the beach, whether a hotel or house.”
The two-time Masters champion takes his entire life on the road—including his wife and two kids—when he hits tournaments, creating a different sort of downtime for him than he had in his early days.
“We book things based on what is best for our family,” Watson says. “The culture, the towns—Do you want to go because you like the town? Is it great for the family? You are looking for all these factors.”
That means beaches aplenty for Bubba. But the travel doesn’t end at the sand and surf. “It is all about the surroundings you are in,” Watson says. “If you just worry about golf the whole time it would be stressful. You think about your bad rounds, think about good rounds."
So Watson takes what a tournament’s location gives him. If there's a local beach, he's there. If he's playing a few rounds at a tournament in the mountains, he’s all about fishing or riding horses. In Los Angeles? Watson is quick to take in some basketball at the Staples Center. “I love watching the NBA,” says Watson.
As time has passed, the types of tournaments Watson chooses to play in have also changed. In his rookie year, he would take on any course that was set up to his liking; now, he picks the best options for his game and his family. Watson says having kids cuts out one or two tournaments a year. And with the family coming to 80% of his trips, Watson has plenty to occupy himself with off the course.
Staying fit is another concern that figures into the planning. “I try to avoid candy and sweets when I’m on the road,” he says. “I don’t want the sugar highs and sugar lows.” On the course, Watson brings along turkey and cheese sandwiches with light mayo for between-holes refueling. For dinner, he’s “looking for restaurants you know, foods you know. Foods you know your body works well with.”
But that doesn’t mean he'll eat just anything. “I’m not going to eat too many big steaks,” he says. “I try not to eat any if on the road. [I want] the basic things I know by body can handle and deal with so I can feel the same every morning when I wake up.”
Feeling the same every morning also means looking the same. Watson's on-the-road workouts stay light, just to stay healthy and avoid injuries, not to bulk up. “I don’t want to change my body type,” he says. “I don’t want to gain weight or muscle because I don’t want to change my swing. I try to stay the same I’ve been for years.”
His workouts—inside the house or hotel—include cardio with a jump rope and a lot of band work.
When it comes time for competition, Watson's bag is 100% in his control, as he decides every club, every gadget. “Those are my other babies,” he says about his Ping clubs.
While saying that not every pro does it, Watson always brings a lightweight Oakley rain suit and an umbrella. He has extra gloves in case one rips and he brings rain gloves too. Watson uses athletic tape for his fingers in case of a cut or blister.
A couple of things he’ll never run out of though: Bubba Watson golf tees and ball markers.
“I was bored one day during the winter and I searched the Internet and found a company that makes game tokens,” he says about his custom-made ball markers. So he had them made a couple of years ago. Each copper piece is about the size of a quarter with “Bubba” on the front and back circled in stars.
“I had 10,000 of those made,” he says. “I have about 9,900 left.”
For packing, Watson gets a bit of help from his sponsor, Oakley. “We team up and talk about outfits, what we’re going for,” he says. “Obviously they are looking for what consumers want. When I pick a shirt, leopard print isn’t in for a golf shirt, so that is out. I’m looking for it from a fit perspective, what kind of style I like, what kind of materials I like. They are looking at branding.”
So, together they come up with the four-day plans, with Oakley getting 51% of the final say on the outfits.
Apart from his golf outfits, Watson always brings plenty of workout gear and “lay-around clothes,” such as Oakley shorts, sweats and long-sleeve t-shirts.
For dressing up, though, Watson goes big-time. “A couple pairs of blue jeans because my wife wants me to dress up to go to dinner,” he says with a laugh. “Button-up shirts Oakley makes to look cool. Sunglasses to look cool. You gotta try to look cool. If you’re not cool, you gotta try to look cool.”
Watson has proven fairly cool at the Masters, ball markers and all.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.