Planet Golf — 18 June 2015 by Candace Oehler
Eddie Merrins: The Little Pro

On the U.S. Open practice range, nearly every golfer, caddie and teacher stopped what he was doing to warmly greet Eddie Merrins, “The Little Pro,” who spent nearly 40 years as Head Professional at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles (where he now serves as the Emeritus Professional).

The octogenarian, a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, is a respected and beloved figure who can’t walk even a few steps without being embraced and patted on the back.

The nattily dressed Mississippi gentleman, who always wears a stylish white cap, played in eight U.S. Opens, six PGA Championships and numerous PGA Tour events, but gained fame as a teacher to celebrities (Sean Connery, Celine Dion, Hugh Grant, Mikhail Baryshnikov), PGA tour pros, college golfers, and amateurs just looking to shave strokes off a double-digit handicap.

As UCLA men’s golf coach from 1975 – 1989 (while concurrently working at Bel-Air), he helped develop future pros including Corey Pavin, Tom Pernice, Duffy Waldorf, Scott McCarron, Brandt Jobe, Steve Pate, and Jay Delsing among them.  His 1988 team won the NCAA title.

Mr. Merrin’s popular instructional book, Swing the Handle, Not the Clubhead, became the basis for his Swing the Handle Video Series.  His website (http://www.eddiemerrins.com) boasts testimonials from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Greg Norman, and even Fred Couples who says of Merrins’ signature teaching philosophy, “As a tour player, I don’t want to hear the swing goes here to there. I mean Swing the Handle, how much simpler can it get? It’s very simple. It’s quick and to the point.”

As his son Michael gently guides him around Chambers Bay, Mr. Merrin shares many smiles and friendly greetings – too many to count.   It’s clear that The Little Pro has made a huge impact.

 

Eddie Merrins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Candace Oehler’s deep dive into sports media began several decades ago when she won a trip from Seattle to Mariners spring training in Arizona. Noting that non-English-speaking Latino ball players received little, if any, media coverage, she fluently/en español became a pioneer in Spanish sports media, and eventually became known affectionately throughout the Latino MLB community as “La Veterana.” Candace has written for team publications and MLB.com; hosted her own radio show on several Spanish-language stations; served as producer/reporter/engineer for the Mariners’ inaugural season of Spanish radio broadcasts; and has been a reporter for MLB Network Radio the past 10 years. She was invited to Venezuela by future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Omar Vizquel to cover rebuilding efforts and accomplishments of his charitable foundation following the devastating 1999 mudslides; worked in Puerto Rico for former Major Leaguers Joey Cora and Carlos Baerga managing fundraising events; and was the only female in the raucous locker room when the hometown favorite Licey Tigers won the 2004 Caribbean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Candace was introduced to the game of golf in 1992 by members of Seattle’s historic Fir State Golf Club, who had approached her to manage their (then) little fundraising tournament hosted by a shy, gangly 15-year old Tiger Woods. Candace co-managed the annual event for nearly 20 years, working with hosts that included Ken Griffey, Sr., Birdie Griffey, Mike Cameron, Nate McMillan, Warren Moon, and Dale Ellis. She became secretary of the club and the Fir State Junior Golf Foundation, and got totally, completely hooked on golf, learning to play on a set of Redbirds given to her by the club (apparently they considered her mother’s Patty Bergs a bit antiquated). She has since traded up to another set of Redbirds and a much more user-friendly golf environment in Arizona. And, once a prolonged stint on the DL is over, she can’t wait to get back on the course and continue lowering her current 21-handicap to ….?

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