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An Ernie Els Practice Story

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

In 2010 I made the journey over to St Andrews to watch the Open Championship. To this day it's still one of the best experiences of my life. The little seaside town of St Andrews is filled with young university students and golfers from all over the world visiting the home of golf on any given day and the energy of the town is upbeat and happy. During the week of the Open the air is absolutely electric. Every pub (of which there are many...The Rule is my personal favorites) are packed with avid fans from across the globe all in town to watch the big boys play.

On of the perks of being at the tournament is watching the pros practice. They all swing silky smooth, Tiger's irons make a distinctly louder crisper "WHACK" than anyone else, and when it comes to pitching and chipping practice you can stand about 10 yards away from the players while they work on their short game.

It was Thursday evening and I was over at the short game area watching The Big Easy hit some pitches. Ernie hit them high, hit them low, chatted and laughed with his caddy and just went about hitting various shot on a nice summer evening at range. Near the end of his practice session the sun was starting to set and I could tell that Ernie (and myself) were just about done for the evening. As Ernie came to the end of his basket of balls (yes, he had a wire range basket of balls, just like we use) he hit 9 or so shots that blew me away. Ernie never changed his wedge as he hit one low and running that nestled up near the hole, the next shot was high and soft with about 6 inches of run... stopping right beside the hole, and then he hit one with spin that flew past the hole, hit, checked and backed up, you guessed it, stopped right beside the hole. He then went on to hit these same three shots to two other flags on the chipping green. In the span of about two minutes I witnessed how good the guys on tour really are.

I'm still amazed at the level of skill, talent and hard work that I saw that evening in Scotland. The Big Easy really did make it look easy.

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