In this exclusive Ernie Els golf swing secrets feature, the Big Easy explains the keys to his golf game. From rhythm to the address, he offers a rare insight into how one of the greatest players of all time thinks.
The transition is important because the ball is still. In other sports you have already made your backswing by the time the ball reaches you and you are moving into it. In tennis, there is no time, you are just moving into the ball. The same in football and rugby. So to me, the backswing is more important than the follow through. When you have made a proper backswing, from there it is a split second. You can have your swing thoughts but once you have made your backswing, you can’t stop, you’re going. If you feel that you can’t load, you don’t have enough power – how are you going to hit the ball? You can’t rush into it, there has got to be a certain way to get the most out of your driver and the only way you can do that is winding up properly and having enough time to deliver the blow. The backswing has got to happen before the transition can start. If you look at all the long hitters… Look at their backswings. Look at Tiger, he has it in a perfect position. Look at that long hitter, Jamie Sadlowski. The guy’s wind up is unbelievable. You can’t hit the ball anywhere if you don’t wind up properly. Dustin Johnson, I played with him in China the other day, the most unbelievable turn. Jack Nicklaus in his heyday, he got off his left heel to get up there properly.
Sometimes when I am under pressure I put more pressure on myself by moving the ball a little back, knowing I have to make my turn because if I don’t I know I’m going to hit this ball straight right. I’ve got to get my arse moving back! I have hit some of my better shots under that sort of strain. That’s what I practice on the range. I put the ball as far back as I can before I am almost going to miss it to see where the balance is, the limit.
I started working on that a couple of years ago. When you do your sit ups or press ups, take that too the range. It’s amazing how that works. I started feeling that I was pushing my belly button back at address, so it felt like it was in my spine. I feel with that, things work more together, like I am pulling from my core on the way back. That gives me a sense of more power through the core. Coming into the ball you are hitting through the core, from your legs. Really get your core tight and relax your arms. Turn against yourself, against your core. Then the legs feel like there is a little explosion going on there.
It might look as if there is no explosion of speed in my downswing. When I talk about this you’ll probably see it more in Tiger’s swing or in Rory’s swing. Their movement seems much quicker than mine but I am a little bit bigger than those guys. But I work on the same principle. Wind it up and let it go. The whole thing is a wind up to that moment, boom.