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Inked

Polish PGA pro gets Ernie Els’ swing tattooed on his body and honestly we can’t blame him

February 29, 2024

Golf and tattoos go together like oil and water. The old guard down at your club think ink is for sailors and convicts, and many clubs will even force you to cover it up unless your name is Rickie Fowler. But the times are nothing if not a changin’ and Polish PGA pro Jakub Budaj is doing his part to usher in that change with perhaps the greatest golf tattoo in the admittedly brief canon of golf tattoos. Look upon true art and weep, ye humble pilgrims.

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In case you don’t already recognize that silky smooth move, that’s the swing of Ernie Els, code name: Big Easy. Budaj says Els has been his favorite golfer since he first began playing in 1995. He would rewind a VHS of Els’ 1998 Andersen Consulting Match victory again and again and again. Although the multi-time Polish junior and senior amateur champion says he moved to New Zealand to become the “Polish Tiger” in 2005 before failing “miserably,” his love of Els (and Els’ swing) never wavered.

After returning home from New Zealand, Budaj gave up the game of golf but eventually found his way back as all lifers do. He joined the Polish PGA, finished his three years of training at the top of his class, launched a podcast and the most popular golf YouTube channel in Poland and even published a book in April 2023. As tribute to is initial inspiration, this winter Budaj decided to get an Ernie Els swing sequence—plucked straight from the pages of a 1994 issue ‘Golf Digest’—tattooed on his left forearm.

The tattoo, by artist Angelina Minalto, was completed over two separate sessions and over seven hours, which is grueling enough in its own right, but it was made even more painful by a run-in with sheer dumb luck as Budaj explains.

“I fell on the stairs on my way to the first tattoo session, hurt my left ankle, limped to the studio in huge pain, sat there for 7 hours in a double pain (tattoo and ankle), went to the doctor afterwards, did MRI, found out I tore my ankle ligaments and shin joins, got the orthopedic shoe and crutches, didn't sleep at all because of pain, did the second and final sessions the next day, took a 4-hour train trip back home and now I am stuck at home for 2 weeks minimum. Splendid!”

Splendid indeed, but at least the tattoo came out great.