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Feb 22, 2009

Affectionately known as the "Little Pro," Eddie Merrins has long been revered as a golf guru. For nearly 40 years Eddie has lived and breathed the game and the way of life of golf as Head Professional at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. At the Bel-Air Country Club the locker nameplates read like an Oscar party guest list; Tom Cruise, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Richard Crenna, Jack Wagner and James Garner, are just a few.

The Little Pro has instructed some of the biggest names in entertainment, as well as some of the highest-level professional golfers. Merrins has amassed almost 60 years of knowledge, from his years as a junior, amateur and college golfer to his career as a professional tour player, instructor, head professional and NCAA coach.

Teaching means more to me than any tournament because I've helped that person to help himself or herself," Merrins said. "Playing is for personal satisfaction, but teaching is a labor of love."

While beginning his teaching career, Merrins also had the insight that would lead him to develop his "swing the handle" philosophy that became his most lasting contribution to golf instruction.

Asked to explain how exactly "swing the handle" works, Merrins told a story about the 1978 British Open at St. Andrews. He was on the practice tee with Tom Kite, and Jack Nicklaus approached. They exchanged pleasantries and then Jack got right to the point. He looked at me and said, 'You believe in swing the handle, don't you? Explain it to me,'" Merrins remembered. "Out of the blue, a mental image came to me. I said, 'Jack, you're a tennis player. Swing the handle means the golf swing is just like a two-armed tennis stroke.'"

Merrins said Nicklaus took it all in with a completely neutral look and went back to his bucket of balls,"and then, don't you know, he won the tournament," Merrins said. "I'm not saying it had anything to do with me, but you never know ...

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