Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is known for his booming drives on the golf course. And the pink Ping driver used by Watson, 39, has become arguably the most iconic club on the PGA Tour. Aside from being stylish and eye-catching, the pink driver raises both awareness for cancer as well as money for charity via sales of the $650 clubs.
“Cancer is one of those things everybody fights somewhere in their family,” says Watson, whose father, Gerry Sr., died of throat cancer in 2010.
“The pink drivers came in with my dad passing away and a few of my friends back in high school, their moms had breast cancer. I went to Ping and said, ‘Hey, how can we do something?’ Just over 1.3 million pink drivers have sold, and we’ve given that money to different organizations — Children’s Hospital and for cancer research. We’ve tried to do as much as we could for charity.”
In September, Watson added another impressive drive to his résumé, when 1 Bubba Watson Drive was dedicated in his honor at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., a place rich with Watson family history.
“Well, it started back when I was born,” Watson says. “I was born there, my sister was born there. My dad passed away in 2010, but his cancer treatments were there. When I moved back here I wanted to show the city that I care for them and I love them, and I want to make an impact. And the Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart came up. It was a no-brainer. We’ve helped (raise) just over $2.1 million. It’s a dream come true that we can be a part of this.”
While Bubba gets most of the praise, his wife, Angie, is a driving force behind the Watson family’s charitable generosity. In 2013, Bubba had a scholarship endowed in Angie’s name, in an effort to give her the credit she deserves. The two University of Georgia alums attended the LSU at Georgia game, where there was a halftime ceremony — unbeknownst to Angie, who played college basketball at UGA.
“The problem is everybody praises me for the things we do. But even if we give money, 50 percent of that decision was her,” Watson says. “How can I show her love and gratitude and thankfulness? I called the school and said, ‘I want to give a scholarship. I want to donate money in Angie’s name, and be about Angie and not about me.’
“She had no idea, so I surprised her. They tried to make up this story that they wanted old basketball players to go on the field. About that time, she realized, ‘Wait, I’m the only one going on the field.’ That’s how I got her there. It turned out great. It was a real moment; a good, fun thing for our family.”