Ernie Els hits a ‘don’t try that at home’ shot from behind a tree

Ernie Els during the first round of the Champions Tour's SAS Championship.

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Ernie Els lifted his club about a foot in front of his eyes and held it there for about five seconds. He was measuring the break in the green in front of him. The plumb bob. He lowered the club. 

He was measuring the break in the green 100 or so yards in front of him. With a tree about 20 yards in front of him. With another three trees 10 yards behind that tree, and another tree 20 yards to the right of those trees. From a dirt lie.  

Els had hit his drive right on the 434-yard, par-4 13th hole at Prestonwood Country Club during Friday’s first round of the SAS Championship. He was going to hit his second shot right, then have it hook left, then have it roll left, then have it roll right. 

“What do you say? Don’t try that at home?” an announcer on the Golf Channel broadcast said. 

Els addresses his yellow ball. He steps backward and takes a practice swing. Dirt shoots up. He walks behind the ball and plumb-bobs. 

“There is a lone pine tree in front of him,” the announcer said. “He can choose to go left or right of that. I’d expect him to go right and maybe just a little draw. And the great thing is, he’s coming off a lie that is very bare – doesn’t sit on the pine straw – so he’s got a clean lie here. He can do anything he wants to with this ball. He’s got to be coming in low, little bit from right to left, and try to chase it up on the green here.”

Els looks up twice, takes his club club half back, then lowers it. He looks up again. He swings. The ball goes about 2 yards to the right of the tree in front of him, and it starts to bend left, toward the green, about 40 yards into its flight. 

The ball takes four bounces toward the right side of the green, breaks left, then breaks right. It finishes about 6 feet from the cup. 

“Hit himself a little dink draw,” another announcer on the broadcast said. “Keep it low and see the ball curve. Needs to hit softly. It did. Well done, he’s going to hit that slope. What a play. Outstanding work by Hall of Famer Ernie Els.”

“Thanks guys @ChampionsTour Enjoyed that one!” tweeted Els, who would go on to win the tournament on Sunday.

But maybe not the next one. 

Els missed the putt. 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.