Sports fans are now familiar with the name Bubba Watson, the winner of this past weekend’s Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
But how about the name Ted Scott?
I wasn’t familiar with him either, until I discovered that he’s not only Bubba’s caddy, but he’s also the guy credited with helping to tame Watson’s temper – which probably also saved his career.
In professional golf, the caddy usually does more than just carry a bag. He serves as a counselor, an encourager, a sounding board or even a coach. But in the case of Bubba Watson, caddy Ted Scott was hired to challenge his boss, keep him accountable. In fact, Watson intentionally hired him back in 2006 because he was a Christian. He wanted a fellow brother to help keep him on the right track.
But as time went on, Watson began to slip. Not in the moral sense, but in his attitude. One day Scott garnered the nerve to confront Watson, man-to-man, about his chronic and destructive bad moods on the course.
“If you’re going to continue to act like this,” the caddy told him, “I just can’t work for you. As much as I love you and I think you’re a great player, it’s not in the cards to do this. When he said I was right, I said, ‘I am, really?'”
You have to give both men credit. First, Scott served up some tough news to his boss, which is never an easy thing to do. But then it was up to Watson as to how he would receive it. He just as easily could have told his caddy to stuff it – and fired him. But he didn’t. He took the news like a man, and the tide soon turned in his life.
“I had a bad attitude,” he admitted. “I was angry because I expected more from my golf, like golf owed me, but it didn’t. Golf doesn’t owe anybody. I guess my immaturity was overwhelming.”
“So Ted came to me as a friend and said I needed to change or he was going to leave because he didn’t want to see his friend go this way. He didn’t want to see someone go down the wrong path. Not that I was a horrible person or picking on people in the crowds, it’s just that he could see I was miserable on the golf course and could tell I was going the wrong way. I knew I was going the wrong way real fast, but that’s the thing about this world. That’s why we have friends. That’s why we have relationships with so many people across the world. It’s because you need that as a person to grow and be a better person in life. So for him to step up and say that, knowing I could fire him on the spot, meant a lot and was nice for him to say.”
Who’s your caddy in life? Who tells you like it really is, not necessarily how you want it to be? Who do you let inside your world?
In my role at Focus, I have repeatedly urged my colleagues to provide me with honest feedback, to let me know the second they see me veering off course. I do not want to be “that guy” who lets the sin of a bad attitude creep in. A bad attitude or a big ego can be an insidious thing. It might start small, but it can quickly mushroom and take over unless it’s attacked and sacked at first sight.
On the flip side, might the Lord be calling you to be bold and help a friend adjust their attitude or perspective? Do you feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to step out – and speak up? If so, I would urge you to do so. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines. You may be afraid to burn a bridge by sharing a tough word, but I’ve discovered that such exchanges usually strengthen, not weaken true relationships, if it is done out of love and a genuine concern for the other person’s well-being.
From a leadership standpoint, to be surrounded by “yes” people may initially stroke my ego, and make me feel pretty good, but it does me little good in the end. In golf or at the office, if you really want to help me, if you really want to be my friend, please don’t be afraid to be honest, because “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
I’m curious, how many of you have at least one friend who is honest and cares about you enough to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) into your life.