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Bubba will help grow golf the right way

Posted: April 10, 2012 - 11:09pm

Like me, you probably are still a little agog at the idea of a guy named Bubba, who drives a replica of the Confederate Battle Flag-emblazoned General Lee, winning the green jacket at the Augusta National.

It’s like golf’s version of the Beverly Hillbillies.

Still, when the poobahs of golf talk about growing the sport, they don’t just mean inner city outreach to minority groups. They’re also talking about attracting the Bubbas of the world.

Gerry “Bubba” Watson certainly seems to be a good role model in that regard. A former University of Georgia scholarship player, he’s a model of decorum. He’s the kind of Southerner people mean when they talk about our region’s charm.

They aren’t talking about golf’s previous redneck idol, John Daly. Bubba is a bonafide Masters champ, with an automatic invitation to return each year. The closest Daly will ever get to the National again without a borrowed patron’s badge is when he parks his RV in front of Hooter’s.

Though I’m a recovering golfer – meaning, I no longer touch the stuff – Bubba certainly makes the do-it-your-way approach seem compelling. As one who never had a lesson, he’s an inspiration to those of us who still stink at the game even after paying someone supposedly to help us improve.

Who knows; his example might even be enough to persuade me to pick up my clubs again. And if I hit a bad shot, I can be inspired to follow Bubba’s example of grace under pressure, rather than cussing up a blue streak and kicking my club, like Tiger, the previous guy who was supposed to help “grow the sport.”

Speaking of inspiration, by the time this newspaper is delivered to driveways, I will have delivered the second of two requests to county officials to name the new park behind Lakeside High School in memory of the late Ryan Clark.

Ryan is the Lakeside High School graduate who was the second person fatally wounded in the 2005 Virginia Tech shootings while coming to the aid of the first person who had been shot.

This week’s request went to the county school board, which is a partner in the project with the Columbia County government. My first presentation, two weeks ago, was to a county government committee.

The timing for the first presentation was somewhat awkward, because it was at that meeting where I learned former County Commissioner Tommy Mercer was in the hospital and not expected to live. He died the next day.

Mercer certainly is someone who deserves to be remembered in this county, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a push to name the park in his memory. School system policy prohibits naming any facility after someone until a minimum of five years after their death; that could complicate the process for this particular park.

Whatever happens, both Clark and Mercer are people whom future generations should remember. I hope county officials find a way to help do so.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/
barrypaschal.)

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