Although he arrived on tour more than 20 years ago, the Ernie Els swing sequence remains one of the great swings in world golf. It strikes a supreme balance between being powerful, rhythmic and full of poise. Of course, when you break it down, as we’ve done here, and look at the finer details, there’s much to admire and copy.
Firstly, notice at address the lack of tension in Ernie’s arms. This is most visible on the slow-motion video that accompanies this piece. Sam Snead famously once said that you should grip the club as if you were holding a small bird. Els, despite his size and the power he generates, remains incredible supple and soft with his grip pressure. This lies at the heart of his trademark rhythm. It allows him to take the club back on a great line, and there’s a relatively early wrist hinge.
By the time his left arm is parallel to the ground, the club is pointing straight up. During this move his chest remains fairly passive, but once the club is set on plane, then his upper-body rotation starts in earnest.
One thing to notice as he reaches the top is how his lower body starts to shift his weight back towards the target as the club completes the backswing. This move increases the torque between his upper and lower body, adding to the power he’s able to generate through impact. Ernie Els embodies the ‘swing easy, hit hard’ mantra and, for me, this comes from the way he retains the angle in his wrists until the last second. As this angle is released, he drives through impact, rotating around a firm left side – a textbook move.
Finally, for any taller players reading this, take note of the way he retains his posture from address through impact. There’s no dipping or lifting, but a simple rotation and weight shift back and through. It’s the simplicity of the Ernie Els swing sequence, combined with his wonderful natural rhythm, that makes this one of the all-time greats