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Back From Holiday

Ernie Els discusses his recent trip to the U.S., the continued success of his wine label, progress with his knee rahabilitation and more in this edition of "On the Road with Ernie."

If you read my website report last Monday you'll remember me telling you about our hastily re-arranged holiday plans. Well, as it happened, it couldn't have worked out any better. I had a great time with Jean at the wine show in New York, and then flew to meet the family in South Carolina for a three-night stay at one of Peter de Savary's properties, Cherokee Plantation. It's a wonderful place; just so relaxing. Then seeing as the hurricane had finally moved away, we went down to another of Peter's properties, The Abaco Club in the Bahamas, and stayed there for four days. That's a fantastic place as well, with a lovely golf course and great facilities. And it's honestly got one of the best beaches I've ever seen; the water is just beautiful. All in all it was one of the nicest weeks I can remember in a long time.

That wine show was quite an experience; just the scale of it was incredible. As an added bonus Jean and I were invited to a wonderful dinner one night hosted by the prestigious magazine "Wine Spectator", which was attended only by those people whose wines had been awarded the highest ratings. I'm proud to say ours is the only red wine in South Africa to achieve a score of over 90 in two consecutive years, so it was quite an honour to be there.

I'd been meaning to go back to Cherokee Plantation ever since I played golf there for one of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf matches back in 2000. That was when I got to know Peter de Savary. He's a great character and I've always enjoyed his company. And Cherokee is this amazingly relaxing place, with a great golf course and wonderful countryside all around. Liezl and Samantha were out horse riding every day and they loved every minute.

I'd brought along my personal trainer Josh Salzmann so I could work out every day and really crank things up a bit on the fitness front. Before we flew out, Andrew Unwin and Sophie had said that I could 'go for it', so having heard those words Josh certainly wasn't going to waste the opportunity. Man, he pushed me hard. We were in the gym every morning and it was like being back in the Army again! The knee feels strong now, still a bit sore from time to time, but strong. That's the key. I can push hard now without any fear of damaging it.

Then in the afternoon at Cherokee I was working on my game every day, hitting balls and playing golf. A few days previously, I'd visited the Titleist test centre and picked up some new clubs. The irons are 695MB, which are basically similar to my previous two sets, but a slight evolution in terms of the design. I'd say they are a little bit more modern-looking. First impressions - they feel great and I'm pretty certain they'll be in the bag when I make my tournament comeback in December.

As I was saying in my introduction, Hurricane Wilma finally moved away from the Bahamas so we thought we'd fly down there for a few days. We got looked after so well by everyone at The Abaco Club, which is one of Peter's newest properties. I worked out in the gym every morning and afterwards spent some time on the beach with the family. After lunch I'd hit some practice balls and play a few holes in the late afternoon sun. Then we'd have a casual family dinner together in the evening; it was just perfect. We also had dinner on Peter's yacht one night; it was good to see him again.

Coming up this week...

Anyway, after all that fun I guess it was only fair that I had to do some work! I spent yesterday shooting a television advert in Atlanta for my sponsor Titleist. That went really well and I got back to London this morning. I'll just be spending time around the house at Wentworth this week, still working hard on my fitness but now with the added bonus of being able to play golf, hit balls, and work hard on my short game. It's great. I can really see light at the end of the tunnel now. I've got my comeback set for the Nedbank. To be honest with you, I can't wait. Bear in mind I haven't had a job this past three months!

And you know, when I was playing golf last week my swing felt pretty good. I've been working on a few new things that I spoke to David about. And I'm just about starting to get back some of the feel in my short game. It's going as well as I could have expected. Obviously I'm going to be tournament-rusty and that first round at Sun City will probably be pretty nerve wracking. But I'm really looking forward to it.

Okay then, I'll stop there for now. I need to fly back to the States again early next week to shoot another television commercial, this time for another of my sponsors FootJoy.

I'll write again when I get back to London.

Bye for now.


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