Simon Kelner: Why golf needs someone like Blubbing Bubba

Kelner's view

Share

We are told that big girls don't cry, but we know that master golfers do. Bubba Watson's uncontrollable sobbing when he holed the putt that won him the US Masters was quite something. First his caddy, and then his mother, offered a strong shoulder for Bubba to blub on, the emotional release of victory after four days of toiling proving too much for him.

It was hard to work out what to make of this scene, a grown man in floods of tears after winning a golf tournament. On the one hand, you could say that this open display of human feelings was a welcome contrast to the disciplined, rule-bound game he was playing, and the buttoned-up nature of the Augusta club, where the event was taking place.

However, you could also say this: grow up, Bubba, it's only a blinking game of golf. Sure, it means a lot of money – first prize in the Masters gets you a cheque for the best part of a million quid – but, as he's a professional golfer, you'd have to assume that Bubba has a bob or two.

There is the place in history, of course, and they take all that very seriously at Augusta, invoking the ghosts of champions past at every point, and ensuring that all their traditions – like the wearing of a green jacket for the winner (touching) and the non-acceptance of women members (antediluvian and indefensible) – are strictly observed. It seems incredible that Augusta is still allowed to get away with this gender apartheid, but then many golf clubs seem to operate a belief system that should have passed away long ago.

A friend of mine belongs to a club where, until recently, women members were not allowed to sit on the verandah which overlooks the 18th green, while there are some clubs in the Home Counties where the dogs of male members appear to have more rights on the course than women.

It is no wonder, therefore, that golf is a game that lacks universal appeal, and that it needs someone like Bubba, a complete natural who never had a lesson in his life, and swings with a thrashing motion that defies description and – almost – gravity, to make the game more approachable.

And the sport's straight-laced authorities must feel highly relieved that the new champion is a family man who has recently adopted a child and has a propensity to break down in tears rather than someone whose idea of family life comprised enjoying the hospitality of lap dancers while escaping in a car from a wife brandishing a five-iron.

Bubba comes from Bagdad (the one in Florida, not Iraq), a small town where he's undoubtedly the biggest thing to have happened – the Bubba of Suburbia, if you like – and, as a member of golf's religious fraternity, he would certainly appear to be a more suitable poster boy for the sport than Tiger Woods. And, of course, those tears he shed on the final green, on a still evening in Georgia, were not self-indulgent. He will perhaps have been thinking about his new son, or, more likely, of his father who died of cancer two years ago. For true sportsmen, the moment of triumph is when the things that really matter in life are put into context.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game