Ernie Els, You’re Not

Every golf instructor in the world wants you to swing like Ernie Els. They show you videos of him so you can see what you are aiming for. Watch out, though. His swing is not what it seems.

The main thing you get from watching Els’s swing is his marvelous rhythm. Go ahead and copy that. His swing speed is another matter entirely.

You know, it looks like he has a languid, flowing swing that any of us can imitate. But we also wonder why he hits the ball so far with such a slow swing. News flash: his swing is FAST. It only looks slow because of its efficiency.

Here’s a video from that puts a clock on his swing. From takeaway to impact, it’s only 1.033 seconds. Let’s call it one second. That’s fast.

If you can get a metronome, set at mm=60 and get it going. Now when you hear a tick, start your swing, and swing the way you normally do. By the time you hear the next tick, the club should have returned to the impact point.

I’ll bet dollars to donuts you were maybe halfway into your downswing when you heard that second tick.

My Legal Department advised me to warn you against trying a one-second swing right now just to see if you can do it. You could hurt yourself. Seriously. So don’t do it!

If you want to hit the ball farther, one of the things you have to do is swing faster. But if you want to pick up your swing speed, you need to do it gradually. This is not a one-week project. More like six months, at least.

When you start swinging faster, it throws your timing off. You have to do the same things, in the same order, in less time. That takes getting used to.

Not to mention, there is a practical limit to your swing speed based on your strength, flexibility, and athleticism.

And finally, you don’t want to swing at your maximum speed anyway. You want to swing at your optimum speed, which is a bit slower.

How do you know what that speed is? It’s the fastest speed at which you can reliably hit the ball on the center of the clubface.

So let Ernie be Ernie. Let you be you. Admire his swing, but remember it’s his swing, not yours.

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