‘Snappy Gilmore’: How Eliezer Paul-Gindiri Became a Viral TikTok Sensation



CNN

When trying golf for the first time, something didn’t feel right about Eliezer Paul-Gindiri’s conventional swing.

Uncomfortably, he adjusted his grip. His solution literally single-handedly changed his life.

“It was a moment (that) just came out of nowhere,” Paul-Gindiri told CNN. “I held it with one hand and it felt really comfortable and moving. I said, ‘Wait a minute, let me try this.’

“Now that I think about it, I’m like, ‘What made me do this?’ it’s god God blessed me with a talent that came out of nowhere.”

Swinging the club over his head, Paul-Gindiri approached the tee and smashed a devastating drive into the Arizona night sky. Cue wowed friends watching on the practice field, including the one who had just caught the moment on camera.

The footage was far from cinematic standard, and Paul-Gindiri barely gave it a second thought as he posted the clip to his newly created TikTok account that night.

The next morning, he awoke to the buzz of a phone lit up with notifications. Overnight, the video had grown to 1.5 million views.

That was February 2021. A year and a half later, Paul-Gindiri is a certified TikTok sensation who puts up engagement numbers as exciting as his one-handed swing.

With 1.9 million followers and over half a million views, the 22-year-old has posted viral hit after viral hit with increasingly bold and creative variations on his unorthodox technique.

“I think it’s just the uniqueness of it and it’s something new in golf,” Paul-Gindiri said. “You’re seeing the same things over and over again, it gets boring. So once people saw it, they were like, ‘What the hell?’. They’ve never seen anything like it.”

Paul-Gindiri prepares to let fly.

The name of the account, Snappy Gilmore, was born after a friend advised to incorporate a swing promotion. The moniker is a nod to the 1996 comedy “Happy Gilmore,” which stars Adam Sandler as a failed ice hockey star turned professional golfer, with the help of a radical swing in boom

Whisper it under your breath, but Paul-Gindiri had never seen the cult classic before mixing the technique with his own. Naturally, this was quickly rectified, and Paul-Gindiri was soon reunited with Christopher McDonald, who played the film’s antagonist, Shooter McGavin, to show off his skills.

“It was unbelievable,” said Paul-Gindiri, who coached McDonald to an impressive one-handed try. “Very nice guy, we had a great time.”

Meeting the real-life Happy Sandler remains on the wish list, especially so Paul-Gindiri can thank his namesake for the iconic career that has increased the distance of his shots. Averaging 250 yards, his best one-handed putt flew 330 yards, he said.

That average is just 50 yards shy of the PGA Tour average of 299.6 yards this season, as Cameron Champ leads the way with 321.4 yards.

Read more: Brendan Lawlor’s meteoric rise to world no. 1 disabled golfer

Paul-Gindiri has shown his technique to several Tour players, including the legendary big hitter Bryson DeChambeau. The 2021 Tour’s longest-serving rider appeared surprised when the pair met in May, and Paul-Gindiri said that was a common reaction among professionals.

“They were trying to figure out how I do it,” he added. “I’ve met a couple of PGA Tour players and they tell me what I’m doing is crazy, and I should keep doing what I’m doing.”

Professional players have been amazed by Snappy's technique.

Incredibly, Paul-Gindiri even used to putt with one hand, although he has since switched to the conventional two-handed grip as he looks to master both grips and improve on his personal best round of 76, achieved completely with one hand. That beats his current two-handed best (about six out of 77 cards last week) by a stroke.

However, the social media star has her sights set on goals beyond the street. Football enthusiast and long-suffering Manchester United fan, Paul-Gindiri dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Paul-Gindiri shows off his one-handed putting technique.

After leaving his family in Nigeria to move on his own to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2017, Paul-Gindiri played at Contra Costa College for two years. A foray into the semi-professional game was cut short by the pandemic and football activities slowed when he moved to Arizona, but he’s determined to pick up where he left off this year.

Read more: The schoolboy who makes golf history: The hectic double life of 15-year-old Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat

And while he may not have a trick up his sleeve as unorthodox as a one-handed swing, his athletic flexibility extends to the football field.

“I’m very good with both feet,” he said. “People don’t know if I’m right-handed or left-handed, so I guess that’s my little problem.”

Yet even as he juggles those aspirations with college, his maverick commitments to golf look set to continue. A year and a half after that fateful evening on the course, Paul-Gindiri is as determined as ever to inspire people to take up the game, especially those for whom the conventional swing can be difficult to reproduce, such as amputees or people with disabilities, he said.

“There’s a lot of people … who think they can’t play golf and seeing what I do just brings a whole different perspective to the game,” he said. “Not only that, I bring people who would never have had an interest in golf. They saw what I do and said, ‘Oh, that’s cool, I really want to try it.’

“If I had never gone on the field that night, I wouldn’t be who I am today, so that keeps me going and makes me happy.”

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