After Bubba Watson joined LIV Golf in the middle of last season as the non-playing captain for Niblicks, he anticipated changing his team’s name for 2023. Now it’s official: RangeGoats. And yes, it’s spelled as one word.
But to understand the origins of this unique moniker, you must break it in half.
There are two very distinct stories, and the two-time Masters champ was happy to share the thought process behind the RangeGoats concept, which he developed with input from teammate Harold Varner III, among others.
First, let’s start with RANGE.
The first golf shot Watson ever struck was on a range at Tanglewood Golf Course in Milton, Florida. He was six years old. The head pro provided free clinics to kids on the weekend, and that was pretty much all the Watson family, living in nearby Bagdad, could afford in terms of instruction at the time.
The pro, left-handed just like Bubba, also gave Watson his first club — likely not anticipating that it would set the youngster on a path that should end up in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The range hits home with Watson and his modest upbringing.
“It just goes back to the roots of who I am, where I come from,” Watson said. “You know, I didn’t live a glamorous lifestyle growing up and I’m taking a wild guess that Harold didn’t either. So that’s where the whole process started in my mind.”
In 1991, when Watson was a teenager, the Summit Driving Range opened up near his home, on the other side of the Escambia Bay in Pensacola. One of the first employees was a Milton youngster named Randall Wells, who would eventually become Watson’s business partner.
In August of 2018, Watson purchased the Summit range, upgraded the facilities and renamed it the Pensacola Golf Centre, offering instructions and helping to grow the game. It’s the only standalone range in the area.
“It’s a little hole in the wall range, right next to the airport,” Watson said. “It was going under, kind of going away. So we bought it and took it over and renamed it Pensacola Golf Centre because I want my city to be represented.
“It’s for the city. It’s a place to come and hit balls and learn the game of golf. Doesn’t matter what you wear. It’s just about having fun. That’s the kind of roots you think about in Bagdad and a guy named Bubba. We didn’t grow up in the country club lifestyle. The ‘range’ just made sense.”
Watson said having “range” as part of his team’s name also provides fodder for commentary, which Watson gained an appreciation for as an on-course broadcaster at LIV Golf events last year while he healed from knee surgery. He returned to action at last week’s PIF Saudi International and will make his LIV Golf playing debut at the 2023 season opener in Mayakoba later this month.
“If we keep losing like the Niblicks did last year, then we can just say we’re really good on the range, but we’re not very good on the golf course,” Watson laughed.
Now for the GOATS part.
In current sports vernacular, fans know what it means to refer to transcendent players as the GOAT — Greatest Of All Time. For instance, Tom Brady just retired as the NFL’s GOAT, and Michael Jordan is generally considered as basketball’s GOAT (even as LeBron James stands on the verge of becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer), while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo tussle with Pele and Diego Maradona for the crown in football and Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all lay claim to the title in tennis.
But Watson and his partners considered another way to utilise the acronym that would be more appropriate for one of LIV Golf’s key initiatives: Golfers On A Team. And since there are four playing members and not just a singular person, then it had to be Goats. Plural. Not Goat.
Meanwhile, Watson likes the double meaning behind the term ‘goat’. Not only could it mean somebody who plays better than anybody else, it could also be somebody who makes a mistake and costs his team a chance at victory.
“Like, either you’re not very good at golf,” he said with a chuckle, “or you’re really good.”
Why RangeGoats? pic.twitter.com/vqNAG2JzXj
— rangegoatsgc (@RangeGoatsGC) February 7, 2023
Coming up with the name was only half of the creative process. Watson wanted the team’s logo to reflect both the sport and the animal.
So look closely at the logo (see bottom of story). The ears of the goat resemble the clubheads of irons. The goat’s mouth looks like a tee, and his nose looks like a golf ball.
Then in the wordmark, with the word “RANGE” on the top line and “GOATS” right below on the second line, the negative space between the A and N to the O below resembles a flagstick.
“There’s a real reason why we did things,” Watson said. “We’re going to grow this team and grow this outside of golf. Obviously, winning grows a team. But we worked hard on this.”
Wells’ business acumen, said Watson, has been a huge help. The two are part of the ownership group of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a minor league baseball team and the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. Wells, by the way, was the valedictorian of Watson’s high school graduation class at Milton.
How well the RangeGoats perform inside the ropes is up to Watson and his three teammates. How well the RangeGoats perform on the business side will depend in part on the acceptance of the name and the logo by golf fans and consumers.
The story behind the name, and Bubba’s passion, uniqueness and folksy charm, as well as the popularity of his teammates — especially Varner, one of LIV Golf’s most endearing players — can only be a positive.
Already, there’s one player from another team who can’t wait to get his hands on some RangeGoats merch.
“I can tell you right now I will be buying a hat from them,” said Peter Uihlein, who finished No. 3 in the Individual Champion race last year while playing for three different teams — including a brief stint on the Niblicks. “Having a goat with a golf club is brilliant. Hilarious and brilliant.”