Over his nearly two-decade career, Bubba Watson has won the PGA Tour 12 times—including two major championships at The Masters—reached the No.2 world ranking, led the tour in driving distance five times, and played in three Ryder Cup tournaments for the United States.
And off the course, he can now cross another accomplishment off his wish list: television game show star.
Earlier this summer, Watson starred as a panelist on ABC’s Alec Baldwin-hosted Match Game, where Watson and his fellow panelists, including actors Jason Alexander and Constance Zimmer, and comedians Gabriel Iglesias, Anjelah Johnson, and Sheryl Underwood, tried to come up with witty answers to Baldwin’s questions.
“These are people I watch on TV, in the movies, and it was very cool to be in the mix with them,” Watson told Men’s Journal. “I play golf, but we all have dreams to do other things, and this was a dream come true for me to be on a TV show like this with these talented and hilarious people. It was fun to show off a little bit more of my personality and be just Bubba, and not Bubba the golfer.”
Watson’s episode of Match Game is set to air on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Watson caught up with Men’s Journal after taping the episode to speak about his favorite travel spots, the golf courses every man should play, joking with Alec Baldwin, and how he’s feeling heading into the PGA Championship.
Men’s Journal: What was the experience like being on Match Game? They really put you guys on the spot out there.
Bubba Watson: You want to balance being funny with trying to help the contestants along, because that’s what the game is about, getting that match. You have thoughts pop in your head when Alec asks the questions, and sometimes you do draw a blank. I had a few funny answers trying to guess what the contestants are guessing, and it was fun getting together with the other panelists and see what everyone was thinking on the spot.
You and Alec had some good back and forth out there, and there was even a golf question for one of the contestants.
Alec was great and the show can kind of be right on the edge of acceptable stuff, so I was trying to hover on that edge and it was fun riffing with Alec. When you think about him and his family, they’re famous in Hollywood and here I am, just a guy from Baghdad, FL who plays golf. It’s fun to do it. I’m a guy who got here, never had golf lessons, and now I’m on a show with these superstars and getting to joke around with Alec Baldwin. It’s a pretty cool thing.
You’ve won the Masters twice and have a lot of experience in these major tournaments. How are you feeling heading into the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs coming up?
After winning a couple times this year, obviously my game is where I want it to be. It’s just about putting it together at a big tournament. There are days when guys can play well, but they may not score well, even though that’s weird to say. When it comes to courses for the majors, you are just trying to get familiar with the course, any changes they’ve made since playing there last time. Even if a course is difficult, as golfers the challenge is getting that out of our minds and let our abilities take over. You have to be mentally prepared for the majors, especially when it comes at this time of year.
You get to play at some of the top golf courses around the country. Are there any cities and courses that stand out for you that you really just enjoy getting the chance to play?
I’ve been on the PGA Tour for 12 years, and we just bought a tour bus, so now, in a way, every city is new because I’m not staying at the hotel. It’s almost like being a rookie again, because now you’re cooking in the bus, sleeping in the bus, and getting a different perspective on the city. One place I love to go is Los Angeles and getting to play Riviera. It has a lot of history there, and the city is great. I love going to Santa Monica and getting to do some shopping there. Being in L.A. is great because you can do some things there you can’t anywhere else. This year at Riviera, while I was there I played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, stopped by Ellen’s [DeGeneres] show and just sat on the side and watched a taping. Then I went and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. Then, somehow, at the end of the week, I won the tournament, too. Going to L.A. gives me a chance to do things that we all dream about.
You’ve been able to travel the world during your career. What are some of your favorite travel destinations?
One of my favorites is Bora Bora. I took some friends one time, after my first win, and I said if I ever win again on a PGA Tour, I’m going to take y’all. I was going take 10 people, my wife and eight others, and it was incredible. I can’t quite explain the blues of the water. The water is so blue there. It’s stunning. Another place I’d love to go one day is the Maldives, that’s on my list.
What are some golf courses that every man should play in their life, if they have the chance?
Oh wow, I can name a bunch of them. Pebble Beach is definitely up there. It’s expensive, but that’s somewhere everybody can play. If you have the cash, you can play there. While you can’t just get on Augusta, that’s one I’d have to say. Augusta, Pebble Beach, and St. Andrews are the ones that stick out in my mind. Those are the three courses that if you ever get a chance to play, you figure out a way to do it, because those are unforgettable places to play. With those, you have the home of golf (St. Andrews), the greatest golf tournament ever produced (the Masters at Augusta), and the beautiful scenery of Pebble Beach. You can’t go wrong with those.
You’ve partnered with Jockey as a brand ambassador to help raise awareness and support for post-adoption services. Why is that cause important to you?
Well, first of all, it’s another dream come true to be an underwear model [laughs]. But in all seriousness, adoption is something very important and dear to me. My two kids are adopted. The foundation—the Jockey Being Family Foundation—helps bring awareness to the whole process and everything involved. Kids aren’t asked to be born in a situation, so when you think about the adoption process or foster care, it’s something we want to give support to. It’s a special thing for myself and my family. I am passionate because my kids are adopted, but it’s something that is just important to me and want to help with as much as I can.
Do you have any go-to tips or techniques that you use to keep yourself focused and centered on what you need to do on the course?
One thing I’ll do it make sure I kind of block out what everybody’s saying on how tough a hole or a course is. Sometimes you just have to play it and that’s how you get past any of those issues. Luckily, for golfers, we have a caddy who’s right there with us, so he and myself are trying to think of ways to get out negative thoughts. At the end of the day, let’s say you have a 10-foot putt or a tee shot on a tough hole, you’ve made thousands and thousands of ten foot putts, and have hit a tee shot thousands of times.
So I try and get back to the thoughts of practice, and experience, and knowing I’ve done this before. You’re trying to backtrack to that muscle memory and the repetition. It’s kind of like shooting free throws in basketball. You keep shooting free throws, and hopefully, it just becomes a routine. Thinking about the negatives, you’re just going to overwhelm yourself. In 72 holes, you’re going to make mistakes. And as a golfer you’ve got to believe that you’re going to make more positive than negative mistakes.