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

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits