American golfer Bubba Watson is a longtime Richard Mille collaborator, test driving timepieces that prove their strength in sport and style. This week, the brand released the RM 38-02 Tourbillon Bubba Watson—the fourth watch of the collection bearing Bubba’s name. We caught up with the legendary Watson at Richard Mille’s Miami launch party to talk time, tours and if Golf Boys is planning a new drop.
You’re famous for being one of the few left-handed golfers who are on tour. What kind of advantage or disadvantage does it give you when you play?
When I was a kid, the equipment was made for the masses, and they were right-handed; now it’s easy. As far as courses go, there are some that are going to suit me better than right-handers and vice versa. So, there’s not really a disadvantage now.
Another fun fact about you is that you’re completely self-taught. When did you first pick up a club—and how did you get so good?
My dad played golf on the weekends so he would take me to the course, and when I was six years old, he found a left-handed club and cut it down to my size. I just started hitting balls and kept getting better. I started winning tournaments at age 8 and 9, so we never thought about lessons.
You’re also one of the longest drivers on tour. How did you hone that skill?
It’s funny; when I was 6, 7, 8 years old and I was hitting plastic golf balls, I started swinging longer past parallel—which means the plastic ball will go five or ten feet further. When I went to the golf course with a real ball, my swing started to get longer and faster. I just developed it.
What kinds of other sports or exercises do you engage in to stay in top golfing shape?
I used to play a lot of tennis and basketball. Now, with my kids, we’re always out on the water, or swimming at the beach. My kids are also into baseball and soccer so it’s mostly just playing with them.
Richard Mille created the RM 038 tourbillon watch specifically for you. Were you involved with the development in any way?
I share my ideas, but ideas are not development. We’re challenging them with bright colors, throwing in pink for the first time, for example, but it really comes down to the engineers. They’re the ones doing all of the work.
The watch was created for serious golfers to be able to wear while playing the game. Can you be more specific about why the model is so well suited to the specific conditions of a golf game?
They say you shouldn’t play golf in a watch because of the movement—I swing at 120 miles per hour! Richard Mille and the team were determined to make it work—and they did. The lightweight materials, the way the watch is shaped to curve with your wrist allows it to withstand the power—whatever your power might be.
Your collaboration has a charitable angle with your “Bubba & Friends Drive to a Million” objective and Richard Mille’s own charitable causes. Can you tell us how the two align?
In Pensacola, Florida, we helped build a children’s hospital, and when we talked to the Richard Mille team, they were fully onboard. We align because we have the same ideas about giving—not only financially, but giving our time as well.
Let’s talk about Golf Boys. When did the band form, and where can we hear you play?
It goes back to being charitable-minded. It started with me, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and then we roped Hunter Mahan in. That was back in 2011. The two songs we created were for charity—and to show another side of us golfers. Now with the golf season year-round, the band broke up… We just don’t have enough time.
Any pro tips for weekend golfers?
This one’s easy: practice your short game. A short putt means just as much as a long drive, and you use the putter the most. Putting or chipping is where you’re going to pick up strokes, so if you don’t play that much, focus on the putting before you go play.
All images courtesy of Richard Mille.