Up and Down by Bubba Watson: Book Review

I first learned about Bubba Watson’s new book after reading about his split with long-time caddy, Ted Scott. A 15-year partnership that ended not soon after this year’s victorious U.S. Ryder Cup, had me a bit puzzled.

So, I started investigating a bit more on his social media feeds and then his website to see if there were any indications the “break-up” was imminent. I knew the pair were not only steady partners on the golf course but good friends as well.

I discovered his website had been updated and a new link for an upcoming book placed in the menu. So, I submitted my email to check-out a couple free chapters. Written with Don Yaeger (co-author of Jack Nicklaus II’s Best Seat in the House), it goes on sale at the beginning of November (2021).

Watson has been a fixture on the PGA Tour since 2006, winning 12 times including two Masters wins. In his rookie years, he was a bit of a lightening rod with his boldness/brashness on the course and often getting negative press for comments made that were (sometimes) misconstrued / twisted.

As a professing Christian and father of two adopted children, Watson has been quoted as saying he wants to continually better himself – both on and off the course. The past few years, his openness about mental health struggles—that saw him drop weight and lose some of his length and touch on the course—have endeared him to more fans.

I’ve been a long-time follower of Bubba’s ever since he started doing comedic videos on his social media channel and ending them with his trademark “You’re welcome” saying. He was responsive and seemed to enjoy playing to fans.

quick pre-view of up and down (so far)

While I’ve only had the opportunity to review a couple chapters of his book – it didn’t take me long to read them. I’m interested in the lives these touring pros lead – and since it was Bubba, I had personal interest. Having gone through similar life experiences (being a Christian, losing a father at a young age to cancer and dealing with anxiety), I was curious to read about how he’s weathered the storms while being a public figure.

Watson is typically an open book and great interview in-person – and this book seems to strike a similar tone. He shares about his recent battles with anxiety, losing weight and the fear he experienced about whether he may end up like his father – dying young and leaving a family behind.

He also writes about playing with Tiger and how those early rounds with the game’s best player spurred him on to greater self-belief.

Known as a mostly self-taught player who shapes shots every which way and bombs it at will, I’m interested to read more of Up and Down when it becomes available early November (2021).

Thoughts after reading the book (UPDATE)

I received my copy of Up and Down for my birthday and it arrived on its release date (November 2). I quickly dived in and had it read within 5 days.

Like many sports autobiographies / biographies today, it’s a very digestible book to read for the short-attention spanned. I imagine that Watson likes it that it turned out that way too.

All in all, I found the book enjoyable to read and learned a few things about a man that many have maligned for his behavior or what he’s said on / off the course. The book is certainly an attempt to “make things right” and explain that he’s trying and wants to do better.

Watson starts off the book diving straight into his recent struggles with weight loss that led him to understand he was putting a lot of pressure on himself and suffering from anxiety. In a sense, it was a low-point for him and (more or less) a breakdown. He basically cried out to God for help — something which Watson explains is hard for him to do.

The book then takes the reader through his early life, getting into golf, the importance of his father to Watson and his progress in the game. He once shot a 62 in a junior tournament that caused him to dream big and believe in himself.

Watson’s father was a strong figure in his life, encouraging him to be a leader and not a follower. While a common teaching from parent to child, Watson may have taken this to some extremes in different arenas, causing friction / alienation later on in his life because of this “take charge” M.O.

One amusing bit about his growing up is how his father told Watson, he’d have to excel in sports because he wasn’t very smart. And, from the sounds of it, he didn’t take this as an insult, but processed it as “I’d better try hard at golf.” And he did — telling everyone who would listen he was going to be a pro golfer.

Watson also shares about his two adoptions, and his two Master’s victories. Taking the reader behind the scenes about what was going on in his life during the wins and how it affected him.

Towards the end, Watson opens up about how important the Ryder Cup experience is to him. I forgot about him being #7 in the world, and ranked #9 in the Ryder Cup point standings and still being passed over for a Captain’s Pick in 2016. By all accounts, he should have been on that team — but after years of losses, the PGA and a select committee was revamping how they were selecting players. Watson didn’t “fit” the team mold.

When he didn’t get selected for that ’16 team, he then asked Captain Love to help support the team in any way possible. This seemed for floor Love, including a lot of the team members because rather than pouting for not being selected, Watson decided to use the event as way to serve the team and show “who he really was” and be like Christ. I believe this made a huge impact on the team.

Watson is definitely an interesting person / golfer and you’ll enjoy reading about some of this “ups and downs” and how he is trying to better himself through his faith in Christ. He’s certainly reminded me what it means to be a Christian: an admitted sinner, in need of grace.

Have you had a chance to read the book? What are your thoughts?

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