Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

Professional golfers are notoriously fastidious about the golf equipment they have in the bag. Understandably so, as the clubs they choose as the tools of their trade play a large part in earning their living, or in the case of Ernie Els, four major championships and a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

So when Els switched to play Adams Golf equipment in 2014 you can be sure that the choice was not taken lightly. I met with the genial South African at the Adams Second Shot Fitting Centre at Wentworth to see how the change was going.

Ernie Els Interview

A lot of high profile players have changed equipment lately, so what was the hardest thing for you about making a full equipment change?

It really wasn’t that hard. Going with Adams I knew what the clubs were all about having played with Aaron Baddeley quite a few times. My contract with my previous company was coming to an end and Adams obviously offered me a really nice deal. I’ve always seen the hybrids and the Tight Lies fairway woods around and Adams advertise that you can play out of any lies and when I tried the clubs it actually was the truth.

They are very easy to play, the fairway woods and the hybrids especially. I’m in my mid-40s at the moment and to have a company like that supporting me is wonderful and it has really been a very simple change. The thing that has really been holding me back has been the move from the belly putter to the short putter. I am still getting used to that, but the equipment has been amazing and they've got an amazing staff so it’s been a nice change.

TaylorMade is the parent company of Adams and you are currently using the TaylorMade SLDR driver. There’s been a lot of talk this year about players lofting up, so what has been your experience with it?

Yes I’ve done the same. I have got a lower spin ball, the TaylorMade Tour Preferred X, which is long, but it is a firmer ball, so it comes out a little bit lower so I am on a 10° loft driver.

I have just asked the guys to also make me a 9.5° club for when the conditions are firmer, but I’ve been playing in America where it is quite soft where you need to carry the ball and it has worked really quite well for me.

I am carrying the ball 290 yards, which for my age isn’t too bad. I can keep it up with most of the guys except for maybe Bubba and J.B. Holmes.

Ernie Els Drvier

10° seems quite low compared to some of the other SLDR lofts we hear about?

Yes some of the guys are going up to 12° and 13°, but I feel that 10° is enough for me especially in windy conditions. I had been using 8.5° so to go to 10° is a huge change for me.

You have the new Adams Tight Lies fairway in the bag as well. How are you finding it and did you ever use the original?

I didn’t get the opportunity to use the original, but this one is great and I have two Tight Lies fairways at 14.5° and 19° and that gives me plenty of options for using from the tee and the fairway.

It is what Adams are renowned for, the Tight Lies fairways and the hybrids. They make the whole shebang now, I mean they have also got a great driver which I am testing. I am hitting it longer than the TaylorMade driver, but I am just not keeping it on the planet so well, but I am waiting for that to come through.

You have tweaked the bag a lot between long irons and hybrids. What is it about the Adams Pro Mini hybrid that you like?

It is the look. The new one coming out next year is closing down the slot line technology so that will be good too. The launch is just so easy. This one is 18 degrees and I can launch at an angle that I just can’t achieve with a 2 iron. The hybrids are very easy to hit right out of the bag. Just swing it and go.

Which Adams Irons are you using?

I have got the Adams XTD forged irons in my bag now, but I have been back and forwards with the XTD Tour irons that have the cross cavity on the back. The issue has been distance. I love the XTD Tour irons, but I am hitting them too far believe it or not, with a 6-iron going 200 yards, so I have had to bring that back a bit.

Adams are making me a new set with a little more loft, but they are the most amazing irons I have used in the way they come out. For people looking for more distance from their irons, these irons go longer than any club I have ever used. Distance is no problem at all when it comes to Adams irons or fairway woods.

Ernie Els Adams Irons

What wedges do you have in your bag at the moment?

I have three Adams Tour Prototype wedges. A 60° sand iron, a 56° sand iron plus a 52° gap wedge and my pitching wedge which is 47°.

Do you change wedges from week to week depending on conditions?

I have been, but I am happy what I have right now. I am back with the original wedge Adams made me, but I did change to a 62° sand iron just for Augusta.

Ernie Els Adams Irons

Do you prefer low or high bounce wedges?

I like a little bit of bounce due to my action so I can close the face and hit it low to spin and then release. I don’t really like those lob shots that Mickelson plays - I like the percentage shot as I feel more comfortable with that. Then obviously I look at the bunker sand and if that is very soft then I will play wedges that have more bounce.

What has been the biggest thing you've had to overcome by going back to the short putter?

I am trying to get back to the posture I had in the 1990’s when I was one of the best putters in the world for about 10 years. Then I started changing putters and feel, so it is about getting that old feel back.

I am back onto a Yes! Callie 12 putter that has a D6 swing weight and the belly putter was obviously a very heavy piece of material that I was swinging, so to get that lighter feel onto the ball and getting into position where you feel confident, that is what I am getting used to again.

Ernie Els Adams Irons

Why did you pick the Tour Preferred X golf ball over the Tour Preferred?

It’s a longer ball. I have actually started trying the Taylormade Tour Preferred golf ball, the softer one. I have been playing a lot of golf at the Bear's Club in Florida with Camilo Villegas and he has been using the softer ball, but he hits the ball very low. I have a higher launch so I think that is a better match with the Tour Preferred X and it is working very well.

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