Uncomfortable, he adjusted his grip. His answer, fairly actually, modified his life single-handedly.
“It was a moment (that) just came out of nowhere,” Paul-Gindiri instructed 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 consider it, I am like, ‘what made me try this?’ It is God. God blessed me with a expertise that simply got here out of nowhere.”
Rotating the club above his head, Paul-Gindiri stepped up to the tee and crushed a devastating drive into the Arizona night sky. Cue dropped jaws among onlooking 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 barely gave it a second thought as he posted the clip to his newly created TikTok account that night.
The next morning, he woke to the buzzing of a phone lighting up with notifications. Overnight, the video had surged to 1.5 million views.
That was February 2021. A year and half later, Paul-Gindiri is a certified TikTok sensation putting up engagement numbers as eye-watering 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 audacious and creative variations of his unorthodox technique.
“I feel it is simply the individuality of it and it being one thing new to golf,” Paul-Gindiri said. “You are seeing the identical stuff over and over, it will get boring. So as soon as folks noticed it, they had been like, ‘what the hell?’. They’ve by no means seen something like that.”
“It was superior,” said Paul-Gindiri, who coached McDonald to an impressive one-handed attempt. “Very nice man, we had a blast.”
Meeting the real-life Happy, Sandler, remains on the bucket list, not least so Paul-Gindiri can thank his namesake for the iconic run-up which has increased the distance of his shots. Averaging 250 yards, his best-ever one-handed strike flew 330 yards, he said.
That average sits a mere 50 yards below the 299.6-yard average on the PGA Tour this season, as Cameron Champ leads the way with 321.4 yards.
“They had been making an attempt to determine how I do it,” he added. “I’ve met a few PGA Tour gamers they usually simply inform me what I do is loopy sick, and I ought to simply maintain doing what I am doing.”
Incredibly, Paul-Gindiri even used to putt-one handed, though he has since switched to the conventional two-handed hold as he seeks to master both grips and improve upon his personal-best 76 round, achieved completely one-handed. That edges his current two-handed best — a six-over 77 carded last week — by a stroke.
Yet 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.
Having left 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. A foray into the semi-professional game was cut short by the pandemic and soccer pursuits were slowed upon 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 am actually good with each ft,” he said. “Individuals do not know if I am left-footed or right-footed, so I suppose that is my little go-to factor.”
Yet even as he juggles these aspirations with college, his maverick commitments to golf look set to continue. A year and a half on from that fateful evening at the range, Paul-Gindiri is as determined as ever to inspire people to take up the game, especially those for whom the conventional swing may be difficult to replicate — such as amputees or people with disabilities, he said.
“There’s lots of people … that suppose they cannot golf and seeing what I do exactly brings a complete totally different perspective to the sport,” he said. “Not solely that, I am bringing individuals who would by no means have had curiosity in golf. They noticed what I do they usually’re like, ‘Oh, that is actually cool, I truly need to give it a shot.’
“If I never went to the range that night, I wouldn’t be who I am today, so that keeps me going and makes me happy.”