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.