Els Quietly Becomes The Family Man


As he strolled the three golf courses that make up the dunhill links championship in St. Andrews last week, Ernie Els was overcome with emotion. He thought of other times, other places about 20 years ago, at a little course where he grew up in South Africa.
There was his father, Neels. And his older brother, Dirk. And there was the tournament and the three golf courses. For awhile, Els forgot all about the dunhill links and just thought about his family.
Yes, it was good, he agreed. I had a good week.
I enjoy links golf, especially with my dad. My brother was also there last week, and we played some practice rounds together. It reminded me how we grew up, playing with my brother and dad over weekends. It was something I will always remember. It was nice doing that last week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday. Then obviously on Thursday, I played with my dad.
Els was in Atlanta, speaking with the media before teeing off again, this time in the WGC ' American Express Championship. Scotland one week, Georgia the next. This seemed like a pushover, however. Els is one of the most-traveled golfers in history. He has four homes ' in Orlando, outside London, in the Bahamas and in South Africa ' and its no coincidence that each is in a different area of the world. Els is comfortable in just about every spot on earth.
Ive been doing it (traveling) for eight years now, he said, admonishing writers for making an issue out of the constant travels.
Sure, I think there was one trip that got a little bit out of hand, when I went to Singapore from Hawaii and then back to Australia. That was tough.
It was a major concession, hearing Els admit it. He traveled the equivalent of almost all the way around the world in just three weeks, and it was a bit much, thank you.
He has a wife and two kids, you know. And it gets more and more difficult tearing himself away from them.
It really was hard leaving London yesterday, saying goodbye to the family and leaving, Ernie said. My little girl is at an age where shes really great. My boy is almost 1 year old. Were really set where we are right now, and its really getting more difficult leaving.
My schedule will probably start changing quite dramatically next year. I still think Im going to play Hawaii those first two events (Mercedes and Sony), and then Im still contracted to do the Heineken Classic and the Johnnie Walker (both in Australia.) Then Im going to try and play different events next year a little bit.
Im really trying to work my daughters schedule with mine and do it that way. I still would like to play more in America, and I think from next year onwards, it will probably start happening.
Els and his wife have gradually settled in the London suburb of Wentworth, spending more time there and less time in their Orlando home. London is closer to their birthplace of South Africa. The pull of home is still strong, says Els.
Sometimes unfortunately ' I wasnt born here (in the U.S.), he explained. If I were born here, I would stay here. My family (his mother and father) is not here, and its easier for me to travel from London down to South Africa than to come here.
I mean, the weather (stinks in London), believe me, ' laughter all around ' but theres a lot of stuff ' theres so much we have in common (living in London.) That way of life is more what Im used to. My wife is happy there (in London) and my kids are happy there.
It seems a little odd that Els says he is planning to play more in the U.S. while establishing his main residence in England. But that is the price one must pay to raise his family where he feels the most comfortable. The U.S., simply put, is just too far from South Africa.
We still have a house in Orlando, Ill keep the house in Orlando. Well still spend close to four months of the year here ' which is a lot. I love the way of life here. I like the people here.
I mean, its a great place to live, even raise your kids, but we just feel comfortable over there. Thats just the way it is.
Els the Most Eligible Bachelor has turned into Els the Confirmed Family Man. Its a major change, but then Els has changed just about everything in his life.
Everything, that is, except golf and family. Or, more properly, family and golf. Sounds like Els has truly gotten it right.
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