'I am a man working to be better tomorrow than I am today': Bubba Watson opens up in book – Pensacola News Journal

In powerful introspective of his life, Bubba Watson gets right to the core in the first chapter of his book, “Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life” which went on sale Tuesday online and in bookstores nationwide.
Rock Bottom.
That’s the beginning chapter title he chose for revealing in the spring of 2017 how he feared his life would soon end. It is how he came to grips with anxieties and mental health issues he knew were consuming him.
“In a way this book tells the story of the challenges I wrestled with my whole life,” Watson says in the book’s prelude.
It begins with Watson pouring his soul, as someone who went from playing local courses in Pensacola and competing with the Milton High golf team, into a two-time Masters champion, 12-time PGA Tour winner and among the greatest golfers of his era in the world.
Watson, who turns 43 on Friday, wrote the 222-page hardbound book with Don Yaeger, renowned author and former Sports Illustrated editor, who has published 11 New York Times Bestsellers among the library of books he has produced.
The two started on the book in March 2020 during the initial onslaught of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which shut down the PGA Tour and entire professional sports world.
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The finished product will be available Tuesday at bookstores, including the Bodacious Bookstore and Café downtown, along with Bubba’s Sweet Spot candy store Watson owns, plus national bookstore chains.
Watson is also doing a virtual signing at 1 p.m. Thursday through the link: https://livesigning.com/bubba.
“One of the things that hit me was that Bubba was open to talking about anxiety and mental health struggles,” said Yaeger, who has published books with Jack Nicklaus, John Smoltz, Warrick Dunn, John Wooden, Walter Payton before he passed away, plus investigative sports journalism books.
“Bubba really didn’t talk about those things until we got deep in the book, or until he started getting into a place where he got comfortable talking about it,” said Yaeger, who lives in Tallahassee. “Now, I think he looks at it as that’s what he hopes the legacy of the book is.
“It’s that all of us can and should be comfortable being able to dig in. Because all of us have these anxieties that most people aren’t paying attention.”
The book has a heavy focus on Watson growing up in this area, where he attended Bagdad Elementary School, and showcases his affinity for the Pensacola area.
There is an entire chapter, “Coming Home,” where Watson details his decision to return and buy a home in Pensacola, first meeting Quint Studer, then in 2015 becoming a co-investor with Quint and Rishy Studer in the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
That has been followed with all of his philanthropic efforts in this community, led by his $500,000 donation to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart.
“What I hope you’ll take away from spending some time with me in this book is that I am a man working to be better tomorrow than I am today,” Watson says in the book. “Golf happens to be what I do. It’s not who I am.”
Watson was at courtside Monday night in Madison Square Garden for the New York Knicks game against Toronto. He began a media blitz Tuesday of major media outlets, beginning with NBC’s Today Show, plus appearances on CNN, ESPN, The Golf Channel, PGA Tour Radio, MadDog Sports, Barstool Sports, then Wednesday on Fox and Friends.
“Sometimes you do these athletes’ books and you get a chance to work with somebody… and they are spending more time trying to figure out what not to say rather than what to say,” Yaeger said. “And the beauty of Bubba is that he’s extraordinarily comfortable in his own skin.
“I don’t think it’s always been that way. But I think he’s arrived at that place in his journey where he knows exactly what it is with the advantages he has, and he knows where he struggles.
“That ability to have that self-awareness is uncommon in many places these days. Bubba is masterful in being able to articulate those things,” Yaeger said.
Watson writes in the book that he turned down an offer on his life story from a different book publisher, following his second Masters triumph in 2014.  He knew the focus would not be a true reveal of how he battled emotional challenges.
“I had no interest whatsoever in writing out my life story as an unfolding series of nice, neat chapters that chronicled all my wonderful accomplishments,” Watson said in his book. “The truth is, as with most people, my life has been anything but nice and neat.”
Bill Vilona is a retired Pensacola News Journal sports columnist and now senior writer for Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He can be reached at [email protected]
BUBBA’S BOOK
TITLE: Up and Down, Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life
AUTHORS: Bubba Watson with Don Yaeger
COST: Hardbound retail price is $26.99
AVAILABLE: Goes on sale nationwide Tuesday, along with online sales through Amazon, other outlets. Locally, Bodacious Bookstore and Café, Bubba’ Sweet Spot have the book, along with national chains Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
BOOK SIGNING – Book signings in Pensacola with Watson will be announced later this month.

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