As a former World No.1, Ernie is one of the most prolific winners of his generation and the global reach of his victories is almost without parallel.
Ernie has triumphed in tournaments in South Africa, Europe, the US, Asia, the Far East, the Middle East and Australasia. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 and the South African Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.
Ernie was born in South Africa on October 17th, 1969. As a youngster, he was outstanding in cricket, rugby and tennis. At the age of 13 he won a significant regional tennis event, the Eastern Transvaal Junior Championships. A year later, aged 14 and playing off scratch, Ernie won the World Junior Golf Championship in San Diego, California. Ernie was just 16 years old when he formally competed against professional golfers. He was awarded his Junior Springbok colours in 1984, the State President Sports Award in 1987, and his full Springbok colours in 1988. Ernie turned professional in 1989.
Away from the golf course, Ernie has found success in golf course design and hospitality, including The Els Club Collection, Els Performance Golf Academy, Els Club Estates and Big Easy Winebar & Grill, along with an award- winning wine portfolio created by Ernie Els Wines in the heart of South Africa’s wine country, Stellenbosch. In recent years, Ernie has also launched his own pet products business and a range of authentic, traditional Biltong.
Ernie has uniquely transcended his sport by virtue of his groundbreaking charitable endeavors and fundraising. The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie, his wife Liezl, and Marvin R. Shanken. The Foundation offers innovative, evidence-based programs for families and individuals across the life-span in six focus areas: Education, Research, Global Support, Recreation Services, Adult Services and Therapy Services. The Foundation serves families around the world and also offers in-person programs and services at The Els Center of Excellence in Jupiter, Florida, a world-class, 26-acre campus that is home to three separate non-profit organizations: The Els for Autism Foundation, The Learning Center and The Learning Academy.
Established in 1999, Ernie’s other great philanthropic passion is The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation in South Africa. The foundation delivers educational assistance and golfing opportunities to young individuals, predominantly from families of limited resources. Among its former members are 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and multiple Tour winners Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Branden Grace.