PONTA VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — There is no point in talking physics with a guy named Bubba. So it
should come as no surprise that Bubba Watson, the PGA Tour’s leader in
average driving distance, doesn’t have a clue about what makes his driver
"I don’t know what my launch angle is or my spin rate," he said Tuesday while on the
range at TPC Sawgrass. "You know, the Ping guys out there at
the factory know. They say my numbers are good."
Indeed, Watson’s numbers are good. And Donald Trump knows a few things
about self promotion.
The 29-year-old Watson regularly swings his Ping G10 at more than 120 miles
per hour. His ball speed often tops 190 miles per hour, and he routinely produces drives longer than his 310-yard average. In the second
round of the Buick Invitational this season he nearly put his tee shot
on the fourth hole into orbit, whacking the ball 391 yards.
But stunningly, Watson considers himself a touch player. Keeping
his orb under control is the main concern. "When it comes to my driver,
the priority is if I can maneuver the shots, if I can hit them in
certain ways that I want to hit them. Right now, I want to hit
everything with a cut."
For the left-handed Watson, that means he needs a driver that allows him
to easily hit shots that fade from right to left. Tour pros who are
naturally long tend to hit a fade because it stops quickly, unlike a draw, which tends to roll after it lands. That makes it easier to hit fairways.
Chance Cozby, Ping’s director of tour operations, says Watson’s sense
of touch makes him a low maintenance ambassador for the company. "I’d
almost say that Bubba is one of the easier guys out there to fit.
Because he has such good feel, he knows what he likes and knows what he
However, there are still three things that makes Bubba’s bat unique:
1. His shaft is old. Watson has used the same
shaft — a pink Grafolloy BiMatrx — since 2002 and has no
intention of changing. When Ping releases a new driver, their fitters
optimize a new head to work in conjunction with Watson’s preferred
shaft. It’s like a driver insisting that an automobile manufacturer put
the sleekest new chassis around his favorite engine.
2. It’s a tree. Under the left hand of Watson’s cord grip are 12 wraps of tape; under the right hand are 10 wraps. Holding the club is like gripping an oak.
3. It doesn’t see a lot of use. Watson is wary of breaking his game
driver, so he avoids hitting a lot of balls with it on the range. "I
carry one back-up driver with me at all tournaments because, you know,
it could break at any time." Watson’s Weapon of Choice: Ping G10 (7˚)
44 1/2 inches, Grafolly BiMatrx X-Stiff shaft, 77 grams, tipped 1/2 inch
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)