Pro-golfer and two-time Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson loves golf. He also is thankful for what God has done in his life. Those two passions come together in his new book, Up and Down.
And, like finding just the right shot on the golf course, he wanted to find just the right time to write this book.
“I’ve had opportunities to write a book,” he said. “I wanted to get the timing right, and the timing (now) felt right.”
He wanted to write a book where he could be transparent, be himself and also include talking about a series of mental health issues he has struggled with throughout his life and that have at times played out publicly.
“I got to write about in the book and share the mental struggles I went through, and how my faith brought me out of it,” he said. “I was letting the world dictate who I was and what I was.”
He learned the hard way that was a problem, and one he knew he had to deal with through the power of God and community.
“I let the world dictate who Bubba Watson was. I was letting world ranking dictate who I was. I was letting FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour dictate where I was in my attitude and my mindset. And then when I got home, my work carried over because I wanted to be this great champion. I wanted to be this amazing man, but I was trying to be an amazing man because of numbers. I was letting my job dictate who Bubba Watson was instead of focusing on the Lord and how blessed I am.
“I have a wife who loves me, two beautiful adopted kids, and my bills are paid. And I was so focused on the junk of the world that I wasn’t focused on me and my family, and that’s where you lose it. I was so focused on the things of this world and not focused on my faith in God.”
The image of success others no doubt saw in Watson was not visible to him. He appeared to be OK, but he was not OK.
Watson knew the truth about himself, and that’s the story he hopes to tell in this new book. He wants others who are struggling to know they don’t have to do it alone.
He first had to practice this kind of transparency not only with God, but also with his wife, Angie, whom he credits with helping him finally stay focused on the things that matter.
“I was letting world ranking dictate who I was. I was letting FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour dictate where I was in my attitude and my mindset.”
“It’s all about telling her my flaws, telling her my deepest darkest secrets as the Bible says when you become one flesh,” he explained. “And so, in my darkest hour I had to tell her, so now I’m free. That’s why I can write the book now because it’s not inside me anymore.
“When it goes back to why and where and how I come out of it, if I can’t communicate, I can’t voice my issues, they’re just going to keep eating away inside. The Lord knows what my issues are, so why not? Let’s tell the person I sleep next to. Why not tell the person I spend a lot of time with? Which is my wife.”
Another source of help through his dark season was his church community, First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Fla. The Watsons are actively involved there.
“Why not tell the group of friends that I trust?” he asked. “Why don’t I tell the church that I go to or the Sunday school class that I go to, to let them hear it and to let them know? That’s how I’m gonna get better for myself and then also maybe encourage them to share too.”
This is the key component in what Watson wants others to walk away with after reading his book, knowing that the power of an authentic testimony can change lives. This is what he wants everyone to experience by seeing his life forever changed by God.
“I wanted to open myself up and then encourage someone else,” he said. And for him, that would be a spiritual hole in one.
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.
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