The reasons I rooted for Bubba Watson on Sunday were numerous, and included:
- the pink driver
- lefties unite!
- I felt bad after he choked away the 2010 PGA Championship - the last time his dad saw him play golf before dying of cancer
- "Oh, Oh, Oh"
- his last name is easier to pronounce than Oosthuizen
- he and his wife just adopted a baby two weeks ago
Bubba won the 2012 Masters in spectacular fashion, with a stunning second shot (140 yard snap-hook wedge from the pine trees) on the second playoff hole. He was a wreck after he won, bawling in the arms of his caddy and mother on the #10 green as ole Oostie waited patiently for the post-match handshake.
This morning, I found a new reason to like The Bubba -- it seems he has never taken a golf lesson. Though the veracity of this claim can be debated, it does add a bit of intrigue to the narrative. Furthermore, it makes me wonder if Bubba's autonomous learners approach to golf is part of what makes him so colorful and quirky, or if it's indicative of how 21st century young adults learn their craft.
Most golfers employ several swing coaches throughout their career. Many of them have been playing since they were old enough to walk; products of over-bearing (wealthy) parents, local golf pros, summer-long instructional camps, and national academies. Every golfer has received hours of instruction - formal and informal - on the how to master the myriad technical aspects of the game.
Is he naturally gifted, and therefore can eschew any sort of formal training? Did he lock himself in a room and watch thousands of hours of old golf footage and go out and mimic the swings of the great golfers? Did he just practice more/harder than anyone else? Did he actually take "lessons" by playing a lot of rounds with golfers that gave him pointers?
My guess is that there are a bunch of Bubba's sprouting up in companies around the world. Scruffy-looking young people with no formal training who possess the potential to transform the way business is done. If I had a stake in institutional hierarchy and the preservation of formalized education, I'd be nervous every time a young punk like Bubba Watson (or Mark Zuckerberg / Steve Jobs, for that matter) ascends the ranks. When these people succeed, it renders formalized structures a little less important...a little less powerful...a little less essential.