Professional golfer and Pensacola-area native Bubba Watson has donated a $1.6 million donation to the The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart Health System officials joined Watson to make the announcement on Friday afternoon on the hospital’s campus in Pensacola.

Pro golfer Bubba Watson hits a golf ball Friday near the Studer Family Children’s Hospital in Pensacola. (Sacred Heart Health System/Special to The Pulse)

Currently under construction, the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital is expected to be completed by spring 2019 and will connect to the existing children’s hospital building. Watson will also serve as ambassador for the hospital, officials said, and Sacred Heart will name the entrance road to the new hospital Bubba Watson Drive.

“I always felt like this community helped shape me as a golfer and a person,” Watson said. “When I moved back to Pensacola I asked myself how I can make a difference, how I can help build something for generations to come. Our children are the world’s next leaders, and every kid deserves a chance to grow up healthy. Being involved in our local children’s hospital is the perfect way to do that.”

Watson, who was born at Sacred Heart Hospital, made the contribution as part of his family’s ongoing support for the Children’s Hospital. On August 27, he announced a separate donation of $500,000 to The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart as a result of winning the MetLife MatchUp, an online voting contest associated with the PGA Tour.

“We are just overwhelmed by the generous spirit of the Watsons and their love for the children who need our care, not only today but for generations to come,” said Susan Davis, president and CEO of Sacred Heart Health System.  “Their amazing gift to our community will help to ensure that all sick or injured children in our region will have access to the best possible care. We are truly blessed.”

Conceptual rendering of the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital in Pensacola. (Sacred Heart Health System/Special to The Pulse)

Established in 1969, Sacred Heart’s Children’s Hospital is currently in the process of expanding its facilities and services across the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. Work began earlier this year on the new four-story Pensacola hospital building, funded by parent company Ascension as well as donors including Watson and Pensacola developers and philanthropists Quint and Rishy Studer.

“My hope in giving back is that others would be inspired to do the same, but in their own way and for causes that they care for deeply,” Watson said.