Bubba is proof that the essence of golf is making shots, not swings

Bubba Watson's homemade swing produced this shot out of the pines that eventually won him the Masters.
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Bubba Watson’s win at the Masters was a victory for the homemade swings of self-taught players like Watson and Tommy Gainey over the teacher-made swings of players like Adam Scott and Charles Howell III.

These are actually two extreme positions. Bubba might say he has no need for a teacher, but virtually every great player had one. On the other hand, some teachers are so mechanical that they turn the player into a robot. The ideal remains the one outlined by John Duncan Dunn in his 1931 book, Natural Golf: “All cures are 95 percent natural and 5 percent golf instructor, but in most cases the 95 percent will not function without the 5 percent.” Yes, you need a teacher, but you also need to keep the individual personality of your swing. If your teacher has one cure-all for all of his or her students, start looking for a new teacher.

The success that Bubba has enjoyed on Tour is a good reminder that the essence of golf is making good shots, not making beautiful swings. Before technology came to golf instruction, there were a lot of funny swings producing great shots. Now we have great swings producing a lot of funny shots.

You don’t need a $25,000 machine to tell you when you hit a good shot. When I grew up, we didn’t have practice facilities or driving ranges. Your most prized possession was your shag bag, and you took it to a field and picked a target. You had two goals: (1) Don’t lose any balls; (2) Hit close to your target so you didn’t have to chase balls all over the place. The demise of the shag bag was a real loss, because today people practice making swings, not making shots.

You don’t need a beautiful golf swing. You need a consistent golf swing that you can rely on to produce good shots. If you’re trying to make swings against someone
who’s trying to make shots, you’ll lose. Just ask Bubba.

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