Busting Bubba's Bubble

The Masters champ may not have dropped any cash, but he's likely received some advice
May 21, 2012

So Bubba Watson says that he has never taken a golf lesson. I admire Bubba's enormous talent, his desire to improve and his work ethic. And I was impressed by his Masters victory, but has he really never taken a golf lesson?

Most of us define a golf lesson as a period of time during which a pro meets with a student for the purpose of teaching said student the art of playing the game. The student is provided with information that, hopefully, improves said student's ability to play. At the end the student will pay the teacher a fee.

By that definition I haven't taken a lesson in 20 years. But I have had many PGA professionals give me advice on how to improve my swing or my short game or even provide insight into how to play a certain hole or course when preparing for a tournament.

In fact, while covering tournaments, I've seen players give each other tips and advice dozens of times. I saw Seve Ballesteros advising José María Olaàbal on how best to play Augusta National, which must have been some good advice because Ollie won the Masters. Twice!

One of the mystifying elements of professional golf is a player's willingness to provide advice to a competitor. Can you imagine Tom Coughlin advising Bill Belichick on how to beat the Giants in the Super Bowl? I can't either. Yet in golf that happens every week. It must: Simply put, the game is too hard to figure out alone.

Now, back to Bubba. Is it outrageous to assume that he has sought advice about his game? He did play high school golf, in junior college at Faulkner State and then at Georgia. At each stop there were teammates and coaches. Watson played three years on the Nationwide tour before joining the PGA Tour, where he has been for seven years.

So maybe we shouldn't ask Bubba if he has ever had a lesson. Instead, we should ask if he has ever received advice on his game from another professional. I bet the answer is a loud Yes.

Becoming proficient at golf takes hours of practice and knowledgeable guidance—from a father, friend, competitor or coach. As one of my math teachers taught me about the transitive property, if A = B and B = C, then A = C. In other words, if we can agree that advice is coaching and coaching is teaching, then we can assume that while he may never have paid, Bubba has certainly taken a golf lesson.

Michael Breed appears weekly as host of The Golf Fix on Golf Channel.

SI GOLF RANKING

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RANK PLAYER (FIRST-PLACE VOTES) POINTS LST. WK.
1. Rory McIlroy (9) 140 1
2. Bubba Watson (1) 120 2
3. Luke Donald (4) 100 5
4. Phil Mickelson (1) 87 4
5. Rickie Fowler 83 7
5. Matt Kuchar 83
7. Lee Westwood 71 3
8. Hunter Mahan 43 8
9. Louis Oosthuizen 42 6
10. Ben Curtis 17

For expanded rankings, go to Golf.com/ranking

GOLF MAGAZINE TOP 100 TEACHERS POLL

Even though Augusta National breaks the Tour's rule on diversified membership, do you agree with Tim Finchem that the tournament is "too important" to exclude from the Tour?

YES 80%

NO. 20%

PHOTOANDREW BOYERS/ZUMAPRESS.COMGET REAL Watson chats with assistant captain Paul Goydos (left) during Ryder Cup practice in 2010.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)