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Everything Els behind Ernie

Source: WineMag (

The success of Ernie Els is not limited to the golf course. Extensive business ventures have lead to personal brand extensions such as the Ernie Els wine collection and Stellenbosch restaurant, The Big Easy.

His impressive collection of award-winning red wines has made him a serious contender in the wine industry and, together with his winemaker Louis Strydom, continues to make a big impact.

Jumping into the food and wine business while still at the height of his golfing career may seem ambitious, especially considering his jet-setting schedule. But nearly two years ago, the Major winner opened The Big Easy, in the heart of Stellenbosch. Housed in a 16th century Cape Dutch styled building, authentic Els memorabilia dresses the walls and gives a sense of the man behind the brand. Each room of the house is decorated in its own unique theme, so whether you’re in the mood to dine in French style, enjoy a sunny courtyard or snuggle up in front of a fireplace, there’s a room a room to suit your whim.

The menu is suited to Ernie’s palate, including manly-sized burgers, Guinness-braised lamb shank and a small selection of steaks. Line fish and the wild mushroom risotto are also popular choices. The Big Easy naturally has an extensive wine list with more than 170 fine wines from Stellenbosch and surrounds to complement the menu, including his flagship Ernie Els Bordeaux blend. Patrons will also be able to enjoy wines from the cellars of the owners, at a significantly reduced mark-up. A number of wines are available by the glass.

As a tribute to the golfing legend’s various business pursuits and accomplishments, the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf tournament has themed its 2010 series ‘Vodacom Origins goes Easy’, teeing off at the Gardener Ross Golf Estate, an Ernie Els signature golf course and culminating in a final tournament at Oubaai, the first Ernie Els signature course in the country.

Vodacom Business Origins of Golf is an annual event comprising of a series of six pro-am golf tournaments on the winter section of the Sunshine Tour. This is an exclusive by invitation only experience for amateur golfers to play two days of golf with professional golfers under tournament conditions. The Vodacom Business Origins of Golf has incorporated a charity aspect to the campaign through their Birdies for Kiddies initiative. Whenever a golfer makes a birdie over the period of the tournament, R500 will be donated to a Vodacom Foundation endorsed charity. In 2009, an impressive R3 million was raised and donated to various charities. This year the four beneficiaries include the Ndlovu Nutritional Unit (a pre-school feeding programme, and a campaign to teach people to grow their own food in the Groblersdal area of the Limpopo province), ACFS (a project that feeds 20 000 children per day in various townships), New Beginningz (caring for abandoned, abused and neglected babies and toddlers), and Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA).

The Big Easy tel: 021 887 3462

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