For Christ’s sake Bubba, just talk about golf

Purple Shag Roar Pro

By Purple Shag, Purple Shag is a Roar Pro

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    Lying deep in the woods on the second play-off hole of the Masters at Augusta National, it was pretty clear Bubba Watson needed some divine intervention to have any shot at victory.

    It is still up for debate as to whether Watson actually received a helping hand from the heavens or if the shot was more a product of his approach to the game – one that is characterised by a rare blend of skill, luck and a formidable pair of gonads.

    But either way, the likeable lefty curved the ball some 50 metres to make the miracle shot which set up the win.

    As he stood on the side of the 10th green, microphone in hand and the green jacket resting snugly around his typically plump golf-sculpted torso, Bubba made it abundantly clear as to why he believed he had achieved such success.

    Watson began his acceptance speech with the oldest of gags, tapping the mic and asking “is this thing on?”

    He continued with a dramatic pause that could have easily belonged to a reality-TV host, about to tell us who was no longer welcome on the island.

    Bubba then went into college frat-boy mode and officially began his thank yous by saying “first off, to all my fans I’ve gotta say ‘Go Dawgs!’”

    It was then that Watson’s speech took an unexpected twist. In one sentence Bubba was transformed from an affable wedge-wielding jester, cut straight from the Caddy Shack mould, to an evangelical preacher.

    “And then second I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”

    Now Bubba, did you really have to take this fine moment of sporting triumph and use it to pedal your religious wares?

    Surely a silent prayer to God would have been just as effective, as it’s fair to say s/he would not have had to be standing greenside or at home in front of the box to hear your spiritual shout out.

    And what are we to make of you throwing the Lord in there during the middle of your speech?

    Have you not seen the Grammys? You either begin or end your speech with a reference to the Lord, not just throw him in the middle like some great uncle that used to drive you to the practice range.

    After all, according to your doctrine, without the almighty you wouldn’t have any fans. So there is no point thanking them first if it was your Holy Father who let ‘The Dawgs’ out in the first place.

    And what did you expect those ‘Dawgs’ to do following your reference to the man upstairs? Put down the beer bong, quit their howling and genuflect?

    I’m generally curious as to what it was old JC saved Bubba from in the first place?

    It clearly wasn’t a demeaning nickname. Maybe growing up, Bubba was destined for a childhood of lighting cherry bombs and shoplifting from Walmart before he discovered a pitch and putt around the back of the Presbytery.

    Don’t get me wrong – I like Bubba Watson.

    He seems like a funny guy and is a far more endearing champion than the likes of Tiger Woods, who was spiting dummies and kicking clubs as Bubba was marching towards his first major.

    But do I really need his religious preferences being rammed down my throat?

    I’d much prefer it if he just stuck to talking about golf, and mentioning those that have helped him along the way who didn’t happen to painfully perish some two thousand years previous.

    There are those that might say that Watson played some solid golf for four days and had earned the right to thank whoever he wants as he collected the trophy.

    But it just all seemed a bit contrived and the hoots from the crowd just left things looking like a bad commercial for the Christian movement.

    Watson’s Masters victory and ensuing speech sent waves through the bible belt of the US, turning him into a household name overnight.

    All this attention undoubtedly boosted Bubba’s marketability in this region and among Christians specifically. For any God-fearing middle American who’s ever picked up a putter, there is a new Saviour on the scene – just instead of walking on water he hits over it with a nine iron.

    Watson regularly turns to Twitter as a platform for spreading the word of God and is clearly intent on drawing no boundaries between religion and the sporting world.

    Far too often, the US is guilty of feeding the Christian movement through sport. It might be Tim Tebow spoiling perfectly good eye makeup with biblical verse numbers, Jeremy Lin fuelling the Christian arm of ‘Linsanity’ with his favourite Bible verses or the fact that the final heave down field with time running out is routinely referred to as a ‘Hail Mary’.

    If nothing else, this attempt by Watson to wear his faith on his sleeve demonstrates the gaping cultural crevice between middle-American sporting stars, ready to champion the religious right and the cream of Australia’s sporting crop.

    Granted, Jason Stevens was happy to talk up his Hillsong-funded abstinence, which probably helped to sell a few more of his books.

    Likewise, Matthew Hayden liked to mention his faith, but by and large the Australian sporting elite do not let their religious preferences define them.

    I hope Watson continues to win golf tournaments, but just pray his plan to “make golf an avenue for Jesus” does not make the cut.

    For a three-rounds-a-year-hacker such as myself, there is definitely no place for God on the golf course.

    Between the limitless mulligans, kicks-out onto the fairway and the mortal sin of unraked bunkers it is the last place I want the all-seeing eyes of the Lord.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • April 17th 2012 @ 1:49am
      AndyMack said | April 17th 2012 @ 1:49am | ! Report

      Oosthuizen being of Afrikaans descent is most likely praying to the same god (i’m making an assumption there, but Christianity runs pretty strongly through the Afrikaans culture). Funny how that god chose one guy over the other. Maybe Louis wore clothing made of wool and linen woven together and god was punishing him that day (Dueteronomy 22:11)

      • Roar Pro

        April 17th 2012 @ 4:36am
        Purple Shag said | April 17th 2012 @ 4:36am | ! Report

        60% Wool / 40% Linen. I just checked the tag. Must have cost him the Masters. Does Dueteronomy say anything about Green Jackets made of Polyester?

        Surprisingly enough, Tiger had no help praying to his God… Hugh Hefner.

    • April 17th 2012 @ 3:51am
      Marilyn Pelley said | April 17th 2012 @ 3:51am | ! Report

      I find it really hard to beleive that somebody would run a person down for saying thank – you to God for his talent. I’m sure if Louis had won he would have thanked God as well. I don’t think God picked one over the other, they both had to rely on their own talent and Bubba’s talent won out on that day.
      I have yet to hear Bubba using the golf world as a platform for his religious beleifs. a Mere thank you is not preaching.

      • Roar Pro

        April 17th 2012 @ 5:01am
        Purple Shag said | April 17th 2012 @ 5:01am | ! Report

        Marilyn, the quote in the final paragraph was straight from the man himself (Bubba I mean, not God) “I hope to make golf an avenue for Jesus”. I have no problem with Christianity, Religion or Faith, just that people should be allowed to make their own mind up without outside influence from people in the public eye. People criticise Tom Cruise heavily for using his celebrity to endorse ‘The church’ of Scientology and I have difficulty finding the difference between that and what Watson/Tebow etc are doing.

        It boils down to marketability and these athletes might want to thank Jesus for the extra bucks lining their pockets from the myriad of believers Stateside who become their target audience.

        • April 17th 2012 @ 6:53am
          Howard said | April 17th 2012 @ 6:53am | ! Report

          I have to agree with Marilyn on this. It’s always curious to me when I hear people describe someone acknowledging God as “ramming it down their throats”. Bubba was not proselytizing or marketing Christianity—he was merely thanking the One who gives him strength. Not to win, not to be better than the other guy, but to honor God by competing fairly and giving it his best. I don’t think that Bubba said what he said to market himself to anyone, or “line his pockets”. He doesn’t need Jesus Christ for that. As a person of faith myself, one of the first things you come to understand is that it’s not about you, it’s about glorifying Him, whatever the result. That is why true Christians (not posers or self promoters) publicly acknowledge Him. If his public profession of faith offends someone, then that’s unfortunate, but Bubba or any other Christian shouldn’t feel the need to muzzle themselves because someone watching doesn’t happen to share their views.

          • Roar Pro

            April 17th 2012 @ 8:22am
            Purple Shag said | April 17th 2012 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            Howard, it was not just the one mention of Jesus that lead me to feel like Bubba was ramming his beliefs down the general public’s throats. He regularly takes to Twitter to talk scripture and has openly stated that he “wants to be the middle man for you to see God through him… to be a light for Jesus… golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can.”

            I am happy for him that he has found some spiritual meaning in his life. But I can only comprehend those sort of comments as him using his position in the sporting world to further the Christian movement. I am only interested in Bubba Watson, the golfer and do not agree that Bubba the Christian must come with that as a package deal.

            It appears as though the Yanks have enough trouble keeping Church & state at arms length, as the likes of Rick ‘gay marriage=terrorism’ Santorum was even being considered a viable presidential runner until just a few weeks back. But the issue here is the separation of Church & Sport?

            I know you do not like to acknowledge it, but the economical side to religion is profound. If sport was sport and peoples belief systems were a private matter, the likes Bubba, Jeremy Lin & Tim Tebow would be far less marketable, hence less $$$.

            As for your ideas about “public professions of faith” and “Christians not feeling the need to muzzle themselves” I put to you this hypothetical. Had a Muslim golfer had won the Masters and mentioned the Mighty Allah in their speech, these very same Christians that clapped and hooted when Bubba mentioned Jesus would have boo’d the house down, merely because they did not happen to “share their views.”

            • April 17th 2012 @ 8:33am
              Lucan said | April 17th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

              Are you not seeing this is actually a reflection of the fans who choose to boo, not the athlete proclaiming their faith?
              Same for your Tom Cruise example. It reflects on the people going out of their way to criticize and take offence.

            • April 17th 2012 @ 10:28am
              natehornblower said | April 17th 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              Your not going to change the world purple shag, Americans often wear their hearts & religious beliefs on their sleeve. You need to accept it & move on.

              One thing it does do, it holds them to an even higher standard of role model (rightly or wrongly) than the average sportsman, so its a double edged sword, its not just about marketing.

              • Roar Pro

                April 17th 2012 @ 6:59pm
                Purple Shag said | April 17th 2012 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

                Nate the blower – not out so change the world chief. Not sure how you thought that to be my intention. Just trying to write a semi-humerous piece and make people think a little bit about religion & sport and if the two actually belong together. It just struck me as a bit odd that a guy can be all “Go Dawgs” then be spreading the good word in the next sentence. Maybe others donät find it that strange but I found it an interesting contrast and one that is typically American.

                Howard – thank you for your explanation. It has made Bubba’s intentions clearer for me. Perhaps I was very much confusing people “respectfully and compassionately share the good news of the gospel” with “trying to convert people, or to get in their faces”. It is a fine line though it must be said. I was certainly implying that Bubba will make more money due to his faith but was not suggesting that is the motivation for being Christian. I cannot begin to pretend to know what was in Bubba’s heart when he made the decision to be ‘born again’ in 2004.

                I love Bubba’s approach to golf and he seems to have a very positive outlook on life. He is interesting, likeable, funny and a worthy champ. Like many of you have stated, him talking about his faith is far less a problem than the antics of many sports stars (sexual acts with dogs, guns in locker rooms etc). I don’t take anything away from Bubba, just for me, I feel that faith in a greater power should be a private decision we all make at some point in our lives. But if that somehow conflicts with the teachings of Jesus, then I suppose people are not going to go that way.

            • April 17th 2012 @ 1:53pm
              Howard said | April 17th 2012 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              Purple Shag, I appreciate your comments. But I think you’re misreading his intentions a little bit. As Christians, we are called by Jesus to share the gospel with those around us. Let me be clear—that does NOT mean we are to try to convert people, or to get in their faces and tell them that they are wrong. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the heart. But I think it’s important to understand that while you may interpret what he’s doing as pushing an “agenda”, the truth is he’s doing exactly what Jesus called us to do as Christians—to respectfully and compassionately share the good news of the gospel, and let people see His light shining through us, by behaving in a way that brings honor to His name. Granted, many of us do not do that as we should (myself included), but it is what we are called to do. I think the bottom line here is that Bubba’s Christian identity is who he is, and that IS the package deal, as distasteful as that may be to some.

              I understand well your point about the economic impact of religion, and if professing his faith makes him more “marketable” as an athlete, it’s a bit unfair to assume that that is his motivation rather than a by-product of his pronouncement. Unless we know what is in Bubba’s heart, we can’t just assume he’s doing it for the money. I don’t know if that’s what you were saying—if not, I apologize for mischaracterizing your view.

              As for your point about the Muslim golfer, well taken. I would not disagree that there would be some in that crowd who would have practically had a coronary if a person of another faith had made a similar pronouncement. But, I would not have had a problem with it at all. To have any other attitude would be the height of hypocrisy.

        • April 17th 2012 @ 7:33am
          Lucan said | April 17th 2012 @ 7:33am | ! Report

          Then maybe folk should refrain from criticizing Cruise too. Not my cup of tea, but I have no issue with an athlete proclaiming their faith.

          I applaud Hopoate for taking time away from Rugby League to do what he sees as his personal duty. While I’d tire of the rhetoric pretty quickly, I’d still happily take an openly religious athlete ahead of a dropkick who gets out on the p!ss every weekend.

    • April 17th 2012 @ 11:16am
      Chop said | April 17th 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      If people believe that their faith has helped them succeed then I have no problem with them thanks whoever they worship in their victory speech.

      It doesn’t resonate with me, but if they believe it, go and thank whoever you like.

      Bubba won, it’s his moment in the sun and I think he’s a good guy for the sport. He hits shots that no one else can hit, both good and bad….

    • April 17th 2012 @ 12:43pm
      Stu said | April 17th 2012 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

      It’s funny that if the guy probably came out and said that that he thinks religion is a load of crap and he doesn’t believe in it he probably would have been applauded for speaking out.

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    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2012 @ 7:12pm
      The Cattery said | April 17th 2012 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

      Bubba is hilarious, all strength to him.

      I heard a funny story on ABC radio how he was playing with the previous winner of the British open, and Bubba asks him how did you qualify for the Open, and he says: I won it last year.

      And Bubba says: really? good for you!!

      I’m trying to remember who it was – might have been Oosthuizen.

    • April 18th 2012 @ 12:42am
      Seriously, Who says Oi? said | April 18th 2012 @ 12:42am | ! Report

      I just want to clarify that his “dawgs” comment, mentioned by you, has nothing to do with his christian affiliation. He played college football for the University of Georgia, who are the Bulldogs.

      • Roar Guru

        April 18th 2012 @ 2:06pm
        The Cattery said | April 18th 2012 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        The mascot is the Hairy Dawg,

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