Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bubba Watson's Favorite Golf Courses: No Thinking Required

Bubba Watson stopped into Cromwell, Conn. today for the Travelers Championship Media Day at TPC River Highlands. As defending champion, he gets to sit on a small stage and be interviewed by ESPN's Chris Berman, who acts as host, and the Connecticut media. Unlike many who have been in the champion's chair, Watson is charming, funny and willing to talk.

One of the hottest players in the world, Watson followed up his first career victory in Cromwell with an appearance on last year's Ryder Cup and two more PGA Tour titles. He comes across as being on top of the world.

During his nearly hour-long interview, Watson spoke about how he uses his imagination on the golf course and envisions moving the ball either right or left as he plays a hole.

"I look at a course and see what it gives me," he told us Tuesday afternoon. "I let my instincts take over."

With that way of approaching a layout, I made the assumption that Watson would be partial to courses that require a player to use thought from tee to green. I was wrong.

I asked him about his favorite stops on the PGA Tour and whether places that are considered shot-makers' courses appeal to him, layouts such as Riviera Country Club (a George Thomas design), TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course (A Pete Dye design redone by Bobby Weed, who also designed River Highlands) and Harbor Town Golf Links, another Dye creation. It turns out the Watson, like the vast majority of tour pros, prefers layouts where he doesn't have to think or have a chance of being distracted by the architecture.

Since virtually the birth of the golf design profession, architects have known one of the best ways to get a golfer off his game, especially a good one, is to make that golfer think. Watson proved the point.

Watson said his favorite hole at River Highlands is the 10th, the only tree-lined one on the course. It sets up perfectly for his fade off the tee. He's a left-hander.

"It's the one hole where I focus. The others I lose it," he said.

He went on to laud Quail Hollow Club, a Tom Fazio creation, because the grass of the rough and fairways are not the same color and that allows him to select his target.

"It's easy for me to focus," he said.

He cited the same reason—turf hues—for liking Muirfield Village Golf Club, the Jack Nicklaus design that hosts the Memorial Tournament.

"Everything is defined, so it's good," Watson said.

One course that does not appeal to him is, in fact, Sawgrass. The above photo is of the 11th hole. Watson said all the water and bunkers are hindrances.

"There's a lot of things that take my mind off of what I'm supposed to be doing, which is to hit the fairway."

Knowing that they created a design that gets into the brains of golfers, at least according to Watson, means Dye and Weed created a wonderful layout where thinking is a requirement for players of every caliber.


  1. It's all right there in front of you.

  2. It's all right there in front of you.