Since the formation of the Ernie Els Design Company in late 2000, its portfolio of golf courses has been growing at a steady pace. It now has projects spread far and wide around the globe, with many courses opened for play, under construction, or in various stages of planning.
Originally, Ernie Els joined forces with Jack Nicklaus to create a course design joint venture between the two legendary golfers. As Nicklaus began his career under the tutelage of Pete Dye, so Ernie learned the business from Nicklaus, thus adding another branch to the prodigious Pete Dye family tree of course designers.
Ernie Els Design has since blossomed and evolved from that initial joint venture into an autonomous business. Ernie is proud of the team that has been assembled. Head of design, the talented and experienced Greg Letsche, earned his stripes with Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus. The president of the company Mike Kenny, a lawyer by profession, also previously worked for Jack in charge of business development.
The company’s philosophy was straightforward from the start and it remains the same today: partner with the finest people in any given market, in order to build the Ernie Els brand.
"I think all golfers who become golf course designers tend to develop a style which is based to some extent on the golf courses they like to play themselves,” says Ernie. “Everyone is different. I mean, the way I like a particular hole routed might be different to, say, Nick Faldo or Tom Fazio. That doesn’t mean one way is better than the other. It’s just the way your eye sees things. And obviously what you can and can’t do depends on a lot of factors – such as the plot of land you’ve got, the size of the budget you’re working with, and so on. But I love the whole process. When we had the Dubai opening, I felt so proud of what we’d achieved. You know, that golf course is going to be here long after I’ve gone. That means something. It’s hard to describe, but you feel very proud."