Uncomfortably, he adjusted his grip. His solution, quite literally, changed his life all by itself.
“It was a moment (that) came out of nowhere,” Paul-Gindiri told CNN. “I held it in one hand and it felt really comfortable and waggly. I was like ‘Wait a minute, let me try this.’
“Now that I think of it, I’m like, ‘what made me do that?’ That’s God. God blessed me with a talent that just came out of nowhere.”
Swinging the club above his head, Paul-Gindiri stepped up to the tee and smashed a devastating drive into the Arizona night sky. Cue’s jaw dropped to the watching friends at the driving range, including the one who had just captured the moment on camera.
The footage was far from cinema-standard, and Paul-Gindiri hardly gave it a second thought when he posted the clip to his newly created TikTok account that night.
The next morning, he woke up to the ringing of the phone lighting up with notifications. Overnight, the video climbed to 1.5 million views.
That was February 2021. A year and a half later, Paul-Gindiri is a certified TikTok sensation putting up engagement numbers as impressive as his one-handed swing.
With 1.9 million followers and over half a billion views, the 22-year-old has posted viral hit after viral hit with increasingly daring and creative variations of his unusual technique.
“I think it’s the only thing that’s unique about it and it’s something new in golf,” Paul-Gindiri said. “You’re seeing the same stuff over and over again, it gets boring. So once people saw it, they were like, ‘what the hell?’. They haven’t seen anything like that.”
“It was amazing,” said Paul-Gindiri, who tipped McDonald with an impressive one-handed attempt. “Really nice guy, we had a blast.”
Getting to know the real-life Happy, Sandler, remains on the bucket list, not least for Paul-Gindiri to thank his name for the iconic run-up that increases the distance of his shots. With an average of 250 yards, his best one-handed strike flew 330 yards, he said.
That average is just 50 yards below the 299.6-yard average on the PGA Tour this season, while Cameron Champ leads with 321.4 yards.
“They’re trying to figure out how I do it,” he added. “I’ve met a couple of PGA Tour players and they’re just telling me what I’m doing is crazy sick, and I should keep doing what I’m doing.”
Incredibly, Paul-Gindiri even practiced the putt-one hand, although he has switched to a conventional two-handed hold as he seeks to master both grips and improve on his personal-best round of 76, which was completely achieved with one hand. It surpassed his current two-handed best — a six-over 77 card last week — by one stroke.
However, the social media star has his sights set on targets beyond the fairway. A keen footballer and a long-suffering Manchester United fan, Paul-Gindiri dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Leaving his family in Nigeria to move on his own to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2017, Paul-Gindiri played for Contra Costa College for two years. Entry into the semi-professional game was cut short by the pandemic and soccer pursuits were slowed by a move to Arizona, but he is determined to pick up where he left off this year.
And while he may not have any tricks up his sleeve as unorthodox as a one-handed swing, his sporting flexibility extends to the football pitch.
“I’m really good on two feet,” he said. “People don’t know if I’m left-footed or right-footed, so I guess that’s my little go-to thing.”
But even as he contemplates these college aspirations, his maverick golf commitments appear set to continue. A year and a half since that fateful night on the range, Paul-Gindiri is determined to inspire people to take up the game, especially people who have a hard time replicating the traditional swing — such as amputees or people. disabled, he said.
“A lot of people … who think they don’t know how to play golf and seeing what I’m doing just brings a different perspective to the game,” he said. “Not only that, I bring in people who would never have an interest in golf. They see what I’m doing and are like, ‘Oh, this is really cool, I really want to give it a shot.’
“If I hadn’t gone to the range that night, I wouldn’t be who I am today, so that’s what keeps me going and makes me happy.”