Els, currently number two in the world rankings behind Tiger Woods, finished second in three of the four professional major championships this year. He is third in earnings on the World Tours money list and the European Tour Order of Merit list. Els has two U.S. Open Championships to his credit (1994 and 1997) along with eight other victories on the U.S. Tour and 23 wins world wide in a professional career that began in 1989.
EighteenGlobal launched its e-commerce operations in South Africa and the UK in May 2000 and thus far claims to have enjoyed tremendous success. So far over 1000 clubs and pros world wide have partnered with EighteenGlobal to deliver the service to their members. EighteenGlobal will launch in the U.S. later this year and in Australia in early 2001.
Els becomes the second high-profile touring pro to join and invest in EighteenGlobal. In May 2000, England’s Nick Faldo signed on as a partner and investor. Faldo is currently assisting the company as a spokesman, representing EighteenGlobal in the golf community.
“The centre of the game is the club pro. My desire to give back to the game focuses on supporting the club pro, which makes my partnership with EighteenGlobal ideal,” said Ernie Els, 30, who grew up in Johannesburg. “For the millions of people who play and enjoy the game of golf, this is a great opportunity to reinforce the club professional and golf clubs that are the foundation of the sport. I wanted to invest in EighteenGlobal to show my complete support to the green grass environment.”
Els will provide exclusive online content to help attract golfers to the customised EighteenGlobal web sites. Visitors to these sites can study his daily tour diary, view photos from his tour appearances, participate in chat sessions and even correspond with him via e-mail. Els also will provide marketing support for EighteenGlobal-sponsored tournaments, on-line events, competitions and retail endeavours. EighteenGlobal will manage a number of co-ventures with Els, assume the production and development of his web site and establish links between the two Internet sites.
According to Ian James, CEO of EighteenGlobal, the addition of Els as a global partner and investor along with Faldo is indicative of the company’s strength and rapid acceptance in a relatively short period.
“Ernie’s support for EighteenGlobal’s mission demonstrates that the time is now to focus on preserving and growing the game. Tour pros are giving a tremendous validation to EighteenGlobal,” said James. “Ernie is a firm favourite on every continent and one of the world’s great golf ambassadors. I’m overwhelmed by his commitment to helping green grass shops.”
EighteenGlobal seeks to support the game by supporting club pros and on-course shops with customised retail e-commerce web sites. Each shop will have its own e-commerce web site and will receive up to 50-percent of the gross profits from the sale of golf products, services and travel bookings.
“Green grass courses and club professionals are the doorway to the game and key to growing golf’s participation,” added James. “Our e-commerce operation provides the club and pro with a web site to communicate club information and news to members, who can also purchase from a competitively-priced online store that supplements their pro shop. Providing this value to their patrons strengthens the relationship between the club, the professional and the golfer.”
Els will also assist EighteenGlobal in forming strategic alliances with golf suppliers and manufacturers.