An annual summer project is to wade through the pile of books that I never got around to reviewing before work or teaching obligations cut into reading and reviewing time. This memoir by golfer Bubba Watson is one of those and it now can be taken off that pile. Here is my review of "Up and Down."
Title/Author: “Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life” by Bubba Watson with Don Yaeger
Rating: 4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review: Bubba Watson burst into the golf spotlight by winning the 2012 Masters with an incredible hook shot out of trouble. From there, he became just as notable for becoming an unlikable person and because of this he was suffering from mental health issues. How he handled them and has found himself in a better place is the main focus of his memoir written with Don Yaeger.
Watson became known as “Bubba from Bagdad” as he grew up in this small town in the Florida panhandle. He was supported by his parents to attempt to fulfill his dreams of making it in professional golf, although he did have some hiccups along the way. Unlike many other memoirs and biographies, I found this part of his story just as interesting as his victories in the Masters (he also won in 2014) or his adult personal life.
Watson’s account of his unusual path to success in golf at the University of Georgia is a story with many twists that in the end will work out well for him. Not only did he have success on the course despite not being a part of the team during his senior year, he also met his wife Angie. She was also an athlete – a member of the Georgia women’s basketball team who had aspirations of a WNBA career that didn’t happen mainly due to injury.
Once Watson embarked on a professional golf career, his story and the book progresses well, despite some repetition and also some stories that feel like they were not complete. One example of this is his relationship with his caddy Teddy Scott. Watson gives him a lot of credit for everything – improving his golf game, giving him a stern talk when his behavior was putting off many of his fellow pro golfers and reminding him of his priorities for both his family (he and Angie adopted two children) and his faith. But after setting Bubba straight, it is unknow what has become of Teddy.
His faith, and that of his wife, is an important part of this book and Watson’s story – it is never far from his thoughts. It certainly helped him change the behavior that made him the person who would be the least likely to receive assistance from fellow golfers if he ran into trouble off the course. That isn’t the exact wording of what this informal poll revealed, but it is a illustration of how Watson acted on and off the course – and his explanations of how and why he was that way was adequate, but did not feel completely genuine.
Because of this vagueness, I felt this memoir lacked true reflection but Watson does come across as sincere and truly wanting to be a better person. For that, I given him credit for not only making his life better, but also for still playing well enough on the PGA tour to be a top-ranked player. He does talk about his golf, but not as much as his personal life. That is something that a reader should consider before deciding to pick up this book – it worked out fine, but it may not satisfy readers who want to read more about the game instead of the person.
I wish to thank Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.