“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.
It is easy to like Ernie Els. The big South African has one of the smoothest swings in the game. His trademark is his long rhythmic swing that we all try to imitate. He is nicknamed “Big Easy” as much for his easy going demeanor as he is for his tempo. Els has two US Opens and a British Open Championship on his resume, to go along with sixteen PGA Tour wins. He was included in the group that the press had called “The Big Four”; Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Els. He certainly rates as one of the top golfers in the world and is one of the biggest draws in golf.
I like Els for a couple of reasons. I saw him play at a few US Opens and watched him sign tons of autographs as his wife waited patiently for him to finish. While all the fans screamed for Ernie he was calm, cool and courteous. I like Ernie’s tempo and always use it as a model to try and copy. I also grew to admire Els for his frank and straight forward way of dealing with all the questions relating to Tiger Woods and how good he is. Els was one of the first big name players to acknowledge that Woods is better than all of them. I thought that was a bold statement since Woods is his main rival. Since then most golfers recognize this, but at the time it was revolutionary.
There is another reason to admire Ernie Els as he defends his Honda Classic title this week. At this time last year Els made public the fact that his son is autistic. After not discussing his son’s condition in public for years he came forward to try and call attention to Autism and raise money for research. He was immediately embraced by Cliff Kresge, another golfer with an autistic son, and the rest of the golf world. Els has admitted it was not an easy decision for him. He felt he needed to keep his matters private. I can understand that. Each man’s family is his own concern, but I certainly admire Ernie’s choice to go public. A man with Ernie’s profile can do much good for a cause like this. The fundraising ability of someone like Ernie is immense and later this month he is sponsoring a Pro-Am charity tournament with heavy hitters like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman (see story).
Els has decided to take an active role in helping fund research for autism. Ernie and his family were shocked to see how many families are affected by autism. He thinks he can make a difference. He already has.