Ernie Els confirms hilarious story about booze-fuelled fight with fellow pro golfer on private jet
Start me up.
That's the Rolling Stones song Ernie Els would have played on his plane every time it took off.
Yes, at one point Ernie Els had his own plane. When 'The Big Easy' was in his prime, he was a globe-spanning golfing colossus.
The South African's mantlepiece is stacked, having won 71 professional tournaments in four continents. Such was his Els' status as a truly international golfer (while Tiger Woods dominated the American scene, Els ably juggled both European and PGA Tour commitments), he felt compelled to buy himself a private aeroplane.
It proved handy in keeping his family by his side as he traversed the globe during one of the most illustrious sporting careers.
It also proved to be Els' own kind of mile-high chill-out pad. If Els was travelling from Japan to San Diego, he'd load up the plane with beer and invite a few fellow pros along for the ride.
It was civil a lot of the time. Sometimes, however, it was unruly (especially when you consider that they're golfers).
Yes, it seems the ole' Jagger/Richards combination got the testosterone flowing. For years there has been a story of Els fighting former golfer, Steve Marino, while the two flew on Els' plane.
This week, Els spoke to the No Laying Up podcast, during which revisited the Marino fight incident.
"It was just myself and Stevie coming from Japan to Palm Beach," Els said.
"We had a lot to drink. There was a lot to talk about, and we kind of hugged each other. It was a lovefest on the airplane."
"Nobody got seriously injured," he continued. "It was all in good fun. It's just what guys do and there's a lot of testosterone running."
NLU Podcast, Episode 149: Ernie Els on playing all over the world, the legendary stories from his jet (yes, including the Steve Marino story), the failures of the USGA, his foundation, and a lot more. This was a special one. https://t.co/r4pbYBP19T pic.twitter.com/toVis6A2aw
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) June 25, 2018
The 48-year-old refused to go into further detail, but considering Els won three consecutive Heineken Classics at one stage in his career, we can safely assume that he had access to a bottomless pit of cans and we can, therefore, conclude that, yes, there was a great deal of mid-flight drinking.
These days, Els is a waning force. He'll captain the International team at the 2019 Presidents Cup but he is beginning to slowly step back from the tour grind.
However, with four Majors to his name, Els is rightly considered one of the finest players of his generation.
And he sold the plane a while back.