Masters champ Bubba Watson: Self-taught, pink driver, and his 6 secrets on hitting long ball | Professional | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Masters champ Bubba Watson: Self-taught, pink driver, and his 6 secrets on hitting long ball

watsonBubba040912_optBY ANDREW LAGOMARSINO
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Ya gotta love Bubba Watson.

The new Masters champion stands 6-3 and weighs 180 pounds and his prodigious drives rank him on the PGA Tour as the longest striker of the ball off the tee.

When your average drive is 313.1 yards, you are allowed to cry uncontrollably, like Bubba did, after winning one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world.

For the record, his driver is a Ping G20 with 8.5 degrees loft. And when your average drive is 313.1 yards, not too many other golfers are going to make fun of your pink-shafted driver.

As you probably guessed, the pink driver is to help raise money for charity, in this case, Phoenix area charities, and not breast cancer awareness as most people's first guess would be. Said Ping, Bubba’s sponsor: Ping will donate $300 for the first 300 drives that he launches over 300 yards in 2012.

And what makes Bubba’s story even more remarkable, is that he’s self-taught. No golf lessons for Bubba.

“I don’t listen to nobody,” Watson said a few years ago when he first qualified for the Masters in 2008. “I’m hard-headed.”

“I learned the game by hitting whiffle balls around my house,” Bubba says in his PGA profile.

He’s one of a kind. After all, how many great golfers do you know named “Bubba.”

Watson twitches when he walks. He’s one of the few golfers around who buttons his shirt all the way up. And he's a lefty.

And Bubba even makes a big statement with his clothing.

At the Masters he wore four white ensembles to raise money for Fresh Start, a California-based organization that offers cosmetic reconstructive surgery for children with physical defects, according to his agent, Jens M. Beck.

“He is who he is,” golf buddy Rickie Fowler told Masters.com. “You either like him or you don’t. He’s as goofy as they come. He’s a big kid.”

Well, the real work for the 33-year-old starts when he gets home to his wife, Angie, and their newly-adopted one-month-old son Caleb. “I still haven’t changed a diaper,’’ Bubba told USA Today.

Recently, Watson shared his secrets to hitting the long ball.

Here are Bubba’s 6 Power Basics for driving it a country mile as published in Golf Digest.

1) HOVER THE HEAD

By keeping the clubhead off the ground instead of soling it at address, your whole body stays activated as you get ready to start the backswing. I call it being "locked and loaded." Grounding the club can cause you to tense your body slightly and snatch the club away with your hands. Hovering keeps your tension level constant and helps you start the club back with good rhythm.

2) SOLID IS THE KEY

During the swing, I don't have actual thoughts so much as an image of making contact exactly on the sweet spot of my driver. Solid contact is more critical to maximizing distance than raw swing speed. Drivers today are more forgiving, for sure, but they still pay off best when you find the center of the clubface. When you play—and practice—focus on hitting the ball flush.

3) KISS THE SHOULDER

If I turned my shoulder under my chin like some teachers say, my swing would be too upright. My swing thought is, Kiss the shoulder. I have a perpetual case of chapped lips from friction with my shirt, but it's worth it. It guarantees a full turn and serious clubhead speed through the ball.

4) LET YOUR HEEL COME UP

Don't follow the trend on tour of keeping your leading heel glued to the ground. The "resistance" could cause you injury and actually cost you distance. Let the heel rise. You'll make a bigger move behind the ball.

5) KEEP THE FACE SQUARE

In all of 2011, I've hit exactly one draw off the tee. A fade is more accurate and goes almost as far. The key to a monster fade is to not let the clubface rotate closed through impact. Try to keep the face looking at the target after the ball is gone.

6) FORGET BALANCE

My follow-through is often less than picture-perfect. Quite often I'm hanging back on my rear foot, which is unconventional but shows that I tried to stay behind the ball to hit it high. Because I hit a lot of different shots—big fades, high balls, low screamers—I make some unusual finishes. As long as I hit the ball solidly, I'm OK with a weird-looking finish."

 

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