The Big Easy at Poppy Hills
February 11, 2019
Count four-time major champion Ernie Els as a fan of the new Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Els, the winner of two U.S. Opens (1994, 1997) and two Opens (2002, 2012) who’s known as ‘The Big Easy’ due to his 6-foot-3 frame and smooth swing, stopped by the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. layout on Monday as part of an event supporting 18Birdies and the Els for Autism Foundation. His now 16-year-old son, Ben, was born with Autism.
‘The course is great,” said Els, who last played Poppy Hills during the 1996 AT&T Pro-Am. “They should put it back in the (AT&T) rotation. The greens here are unbelievable.”
Els and his wife, Liezl, established the Els for Autism Foundation in 2009. The disorder affects 1 in 59 children in the U.S. In 2017, Els announced a partnership between the Els for Autism Foundation and 18Birdies, a start-up whose mission is to expand golf participation and inspire positivity on the course. The two groups put on about 14-18 fundraising events together throughout the year.
“I appreciate what 18Birdies does with us,” Els said, noting that all funds raised go to the foundation.
As for playing Poppy Hills competitively, Els can start doing that starting in 2020. The now 49-year-old will turn 50 this October, making him eligible for the annual PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee, which is held at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach Golf Links.