From the very beginning, it sure had all the makings of a nonsensical money grab.
Maybe it came as a surprise, maybe it didn’t when nearly a year ago the South Korean daily rag — JoonAng Daily — proudly announced that Bubba Watson was making a very important, if not shocking, equipment change.
The announcement basically told the world that Bubba was going all Volvik on us — as in those crazy, blinding colored balls that they use in the World Long Drive competition.
The South Koreans basically said Watson had signed a lucrative, five-year deal that would pay him $1.2 million a year, plus a juicy signing bonus and stock options. Yeah, had all the makings of a “take the money and run” situation.
It was an attention-getter because no one else on either the PGA Tour or European Tours plays that brand.
There are a couple of South Korean women who play the brand but that’s about it.
Take a peek at Bubba’s 2017 season and it turned out to be his worst nightmare, probably Volvik’s as well.
Watson missed the cut in three of the four majors, including The Masters, where he has twice won. Best finish was an unlikely T27 in the Open Championship.
In all he missed seven cuts, had a WD at The Genesis and banked only a little north of $1.22 million — less than what the South Koreans were paying him to play their golf ball.
So miserable was Bubba’s year that he basically said he was done after the playoffs, wasn’t coming back until 2018.
Seems the PGA Tour’s version of The Rainman, finally got a little antsy playing Mr. Mom and got the itch. Wife Angie was probably pretty sick of him as well and gave him the big nod to go ahead and play this week in Las Vegas.
Good place for Bubba, who at times shows he has a big heart, especially for children and this is the perfect place with the Shriners Hospitals benefitting this week.
As common sense would have it, Bubba showed up this week without the dreadful Volvik balls in his golf bag. He went back to an old friend — the Titleist Pro-V1x.
“I’m just going to go back to what I grew up with,” was how Bubba put it when asked about the situation.
“I do not have a ball deal as we sit here today,” Bubba informed us. “So I can play with whatever ball I want to.
“My deal was up, and so I’m … ball-free.”
If you believe the South Korean news, the deal wasn’t really “up.” Best guess is that Bubba figured out on his own that the old Volvik wasn’t really working out for him so he had his agent call the folks in South Korea and negotiate some sort of face-saving termination of the initial money-grab.
After the year Bubba had, don’t look for any other ball manufacturers to line up and swoon all over The Rainman in attempt to have him play their pellets.
Titleist has a pool of money for players who use the golf ball and Bubba can dip into that if he can turn his game around.
He’s got a ways to go. In 2016 he was ranked in the top 10 in The Official World Golf Rankings. Now he’s fallen all the way to 63rd.
He was 127th in scoring average last year.
So yes, Bubba’s got a lot to prove. But at least he figured out in his mind and checkbook that The Great Volvik Money Grab of 2017 simply wasn’t worth it.