Bubba Watson has reason to feel like a member at Augusta National

AUGUSTA — Bubba Watson may have the biggest dry-cleaning bill for his green jacket.

You name an event at Augusta National and Watson was here wearing the iconic garment of the golf club.

The Women’s Amateur last Saturday. The finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt junior competition last Sunday. The ceremonial first tee shot, this year with Lee Elder making a special appearance, to start the 2021 Masters on Thursday. Watson was there for all — as he has at the events in the past — front and center to show his support.

Watson, the two-time Masters winner, said before this year’s tournament that he felt like a member of Augusta National.

“It’s how I was raised,” Watson said Sunday after he finished 1-over par for the tournament. “It’s how I was brought up. It’s one of those things that you dream about winning one of these, and then you win it, then you meet the membership, you learn more about the club. A lot of things happen behind closed doors because of the green jacket, and so you just learn about a lot of people and you learn about truly what they’re doing to grow the game.”

Watson won here twice in three years, in 2012 and 2014. He just completed his 13th Masters, where he has missed the cut just once.

However, Watson said his affinity for the club is more about the other 51 weeks of the year when there is no Masters. It’s then when Augusta National works behind the scenes for charity work and to grow the game of golf. Last year Augusta National and partners pledged $10 million to parts of the Augusta community. Ground was broken on a Boys and Girls Club headquarters this week. Property the club owns, a strip mall, was used as a COVID-19 vaccination site. This was the second year for the women’s amateur. The junior event has been around since 2013.

“You learn about those things, and it makes you want to be a part of it,” Watson said. “It makes you want to be a part of this club, and luckily for me I’ve won twice, so if they get mad at me once, I still have another one I can have.”

Watson said Augusta National officials haven’t reached out to him directly seeking input, but he knows they are watching and listening.

“I bring guests here,” Watson said. “My wife comes and plays. We play with a member, we play with Condoleezza Rice. You know, just talking and discussing. And again, the membership here is smart enough — they don’t need Bubba Watson’s help, but they sit back — I’m guessing they sit back for the next week, maybe two weeks, and really push hard of how they can improve in situations.”

Watson says he takes what he gathers from the interactions and applies it to his life and businesses. He said he will continue to be supportive of the club’s efforts. He’ll keep returning for the women and junior events. And he’ll keep playing as a former champion — as long as they will have him.

“I think their processes are kind of like my golf game; I learned it on my own,” Watson said. “It’s a slow process, but hopefully it’s going in the right direction, and I think that’s what they do. They analyze everything, and they make everything perfect.”