In the era of prodigious purses and savvy strategic thinking, pro golfers are making it their business to be in business outside of their sport, while show-biz stalwarts and superstar athletes like Steph Curry, Peyton Manning and Andy Roddick are discovering that the smart money is in golf itself. In our Golf & Business package (which you can also find in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of GOLF Magazine), we’ll go inside their wallets.
As anyone who’s ever watched his parabolic shots on Toptracer can attest, Bubba Watson doesn’t do straightforward. Point A to Point B is invariably a winding road: Bubba gonna Bubba. So, back when the two-time Masters champion decided to join the march of his fellow golf pros on the entrepreneurial route, it’s little surprise that he skipped the private label wine. You might as well have asked him to hit a stock 8-iron.
Where to begin in Watson’s world of investments? How about the sweet spot — literally. Bubba’s Sweet Spot, a candy shop, sates sugar cravings in Pensacola, Fla., where the homegrown Watson has assembled a business portfolio as varied as his shotmaking. Car dealership? Check. (Specifically, Sandy & Bubba’s Milton Chevrolet.) Apartment complex? The man built it and sold it himself, like a player carrying his own sticks. Part ownership of a Double-A minor league baseball team? Please welcome to the field your Pensacola Blue Wahoos!
What, you were expecting a driving range?
Actually, Watson does own a driving range, Pensacola Golf Center, but in keeping with his nature, it’s a mix of down-home and buttoned-up. Jeans and T-shirts ham-and-egg it with chinos and collared polos all down the line. Whatever works for you.
“It isn’t about money,” Watson recently said. “The people I partner with, they all want to give back. It’s about helping the community that helped raise me and become who I am.”
Watson’s latest financial foray: a stake in Linksoul, the lifestyle clothing maker cofounded by John Ashworth. Per their website, Linksoul prefers you view it “more as a philosophy than a brand … more of an experience than a clothing company.” Yes, it’s based in California, not the Florida panhandle, in case that wasn’t clear. But there’s substance in their Tao that helped draw Watson into the fold. Linksoul HQ includes a community event space that hosts art shows, concerts, workshops and documentary film screenings, for starters. The brand-cum-philosophy also led the fight to save a local muni, Goat Hill Park, from being plowed under, then spent two years refurbishing the course, making it a sustainable community park with accessible public golf for all — including many junior golfers.
“The mission … and the money they’ve been able to raise for charity … it’s a special thing to be a part of,” Watson told Fortune in the wake of his investment. “This is what drew me to it. I’m all about my heart and where my heart leads me.”