Bubba has never had much success at TPC Sawgrass, often looking uncomfortable on many tee boxes. Now, after some interviews with Bubba, light has been shed on why this massively creative ADHD golfer has problems with this Dye-abolical golf course. It all has to do with how Bubba builds his movie on tee shots.
“Around this golf course it’s very challenging for me,” Watson admitted. “When I look down No.1 and No.10, just to give you an example, when you look down those, it’s hard to tell the fairway and the rough. It all kind of blends in together. To me, I don’t like to look at a tree and aim at a tree. I like to see the lay of the land and that’s how I hit my shots. So it’s very difficult when you look at a golf course like that. So it makes it difficult for me.“
What Bubba is saying is that he finds the part of the fairway he wants to land the golf ball and then thinks about how to shape it to the landing area. This method is no different than the optimum way to build a movie; visualizing putting the ball into the hole.
With putting you start at the hole, then look to see whether there is a fall line. If there is a fall line, you then picture what is the speed in which you want the ball going into the hole. Once you have this information, it is easy to build a movie of the ball going from its starting position into the hole. The best movies start at the hole and work backwards.
Bubba is doing the same thing off the tee; building a movie backwards from the landing spot. The problem with TPC Sawgrass is that there are many optical illusions that throw you off. This makes Bubba have as the same problems of executing a tee shot with trust as someone trying to execute a putt when they are having problems finding the fall line.
Without a proper instinctive movie visualizing the ball arriving at the target, Bubba is less likely to be able to commit to the shot with abandon.
The second issue is that ADHD golfers focus better with defined rewards. For Bubba at TPC Sawgrass, the reward of the ball landing in the fairway is not apparent and thus his interest, focus and commitment waver.
For Bubba or any other ADHD golfer, you must implement an alternate reward system in your routine that fits the golf course.
During a practice round have a friend or second fore caddy ride out and place a flag in the fairway on the ideal landing spot. Have the golfer identify the tree/pole in the distance that lines up with the flag. Hit several shots to the selected target. Then take photos of what you were looking at with the flag in the fairway as well as photos of the results.
By reviewing the photos, focusing on the flag, alignment of tree/pole in the distance and photos of the positive results, you can trigger the memories of each flag position and the reward of the shots that landed near the target flag. When tournament time arrives, it will be very easy to look at the distant target and then visualize a pretend flag sitting in the fairway. Think of this as assisted visualization.
With the above mentioned method, Bubba or any other golfer who needs to “see the reward of the ball landing in the fairway” will be able to better visualize his/her shot, thus fully committing to the shot.
What about the other majors for Bubba?
With the US Open being at the redesigned Pinehurst #2, Bubba will have no problems off the tee. With the rough having been stripped out and replaced with sandy waste areas, the fairway visually pops out from its surroundings. Bubba’s method of building a movie will be a piece of cake.
However, with the British Open you have those old links courses where it is hard to tell where the fairway ends and the mess begins. At the Open, using fairway flags during a practice round should be a best practice for any golfer, including Bubba.