Ernie Els' tag as "The Big Easy" certainly fits. Yes, he's a big guy and, yes, his swing looks as smooth as silk. But make no mistake — Ernie hits the ball hard. He's the poster child for torque and leverage (the two swing traits that allow you to add power without swinging harder).
I've known Ernie for almost 20 years, and I can tell you that the way to generate his effortless power and accuracy is in your wrists. Notice how he hinges them quickly and fully as he swings the club to the top. When he lets the hinge out, it gives the appearance of swinging smoothly and without effort, even though his clubhead is blasting through impact at 120 mph.
You should mimic his hinge, but don't copy it move-for-move. Ernie cups his left wrist at the top and releases the club very late. He does this to fight his tendency to hook the ball under pressure. You'll do better with a flat left wrist at the top and a strong release once your hands reach the hitting zone. But if you want more swing speed or a few more yards off the tee, Ernie's moves are the keys you've been seeking.
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At address, Ernie keeps his arms as soft as possible and kinks his right elbow slightly. This allows him to start the club back by hinging his wrists and bending his right elbow.
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Note how quickly the shaft becomes parallel to the ground. The old adage "take it back low and slow" makes your swing stiff and keeps you from correctly hinging your wrists.
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Leverage alert! Ernie's clubhead is already above his cap when his hands reach belly height. Also notice how his left knee and hip are working away from the target.
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You can really see the bend in Ernie's right elbow. Most golfers confuse a bent right arm with a smaller swing arc, but this move actually creates width and extra power.
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His free-and-easy wrist hinge and right-elbow fold put him perfectly on plane at the top (shaft pointing parallel left of his target) and allow him to turn his upper body almost a full 90 degrees.
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Ernie's wrists are active going back but passive starting down. His first move is to drop his right elbow straight down using his right back muscles. This is the easy way to stop an early release.
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Check Ernie's left hip — it's higher than his right. He pulls it up and to the left using his powerful glutes. His arms and clubhead have no other option but to follow at breakneck speed.
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The club exits on a plane much like the one it took going back. This determines the accuracy of any shot. For best results, point the back of your right hand at the sky during your release.
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Ernie's arms are loose and fully extended for maximum power. Once you feel your hands ahead of the ball at impact, straighten your arms and release the hinge in your wrists.
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Any golfer who slices or has difficulty drawing the ball should copy this position. Feel like you're bending your elbows and throwing the club over your left shoulder in your follow-through.
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A. MOTHER LOAD Here's the secret to Ernie's effortless speed: fully hinged wrists at the top. Ernie cups his left wrist to fight off a hook — keep yours flat, especially if you slice.
B. BIG BENDER Unless you fold your right elbow going back, your entire backswing will fall apart and you'll never get your club on plane.
C. LOWER-BODY ACTION If you're confused about how to turn your lower body during your backswing, just focus on turning your left knee and left hip away from the target.
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You can smash it by using one of Ernie's tricks. Once you feel your hands ahead of the ball, straighten your arms and release the hinge in your wrists.
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