If Bubba Watson had hit four shots straight at the 10th hole in the playoff at the Augusta National Golf Club last year, he would’ve been warmly embraced as the emotional Masters Tournament winner he was.
But it wouldn’t have been legendary.
It took adversity to make it so.
A year later, the left-hander’s curving hook shot out of the right woods on the 10th fairway, and onto the green to win a green jacket, is still the talk of the Masters and the golf world. Fans were sure to visit the spot this week as something of a shrine – but even Watson’s fellow players have been buzzing about it and stopping to marvel.
“Masters champ Watson still has Augusta hooked,” Golf Week wrote.
Asked whether he’d like a plaque at the spot, he half-joked, “Who wouldn’t want to see a plaque that says ‘Bubba’ in the middle of the pine straw?”
Watson’s magic trick already has become part of Masters lore – one of a handful of the most momentous shots in the past 76 years of the most revered tournament in the world – such as Larry Mize’s 1987 chip-in and Gene Sarazen’s double-eagle on the 15th in 1935.
In fact, ESPN analyst Andy North named Watson’s the second-most spectacular shot in Masters history, next to Mize’s.
Certainly the hook shot’s decisiveness – it appears to have decided the tournament – and the degree of difficulty – we’d give it a “10” on that point – makes it stand out, even among those other mythical feats.
And none of the other shots rivals Watson’s for overcoming adversity.
Therein lies the life lesson for us all in this remarkable story.
Overcoming the misfortune created when his tee shot scampered into the woods at a most inopportune moment was one of the best and most important things Bubba Watson will have ever done in his life. It made him a champion. But more than that, it made him something of a legend overnight.
Never mind that the tee shot that got him into trouble was his own doing; most of our problems usually are! We are simply then left with how to respond.
It’s notable, too, what fearlessness he exhibited in the process. The safe thing would’ve been to pitch the ball out and hope for the best. Instead, he created an imaginative 160-yard winding path in his mind – and dauntlessly made it happen.
To borrow a metaphor from another sport, life threw Watson a curve. He threw one right back.
We can’t all be golfing legends, and many of our misfortunes are significantly more serious than even the most pivotal golf shot in the world. But whatever our setbacks, we can take Bubba Watson’s adventurousness and gallantry into them.
As Watson has shown so dramatically, overcoming adversity can be the defining moment of our lives.