Golf world loses an icon with Eddie “The Lil Pro” Merrins passing at age 91
By Kendall Capps | Nov 29, 2023 | SB Nation’s
Eddie Merrins is a member of the World Golf Teaching Hall of Fame and the co-founder of Friends of Golf, a leading philanthropic organization.
The golf world was dealt a tough blow last week with the news that Eddie “The Little Pro” Merrins passed away at the age of 91.
Merrins leaves behind a remarkable legacy both with what he accomplished on and off the golf course. He played professionally in over 200 PGA Tour events beginning in 1957. The iconic figure once held the course record at Medinah (66) at the Western Open.
But it’s what he did after his playing career ended that has had the greatest impact in the sport he loved.
Merrins was a co-founder of the philanthropic organization Friends of Golf. FOG, as it’s known, was created in 1979 and as renowned broadcaster Jim Nantz said at this year’s charity event, “was First Tee before there ever was a First Tee.”
I had the honor and privilege to attend this year’s event and was astounded with everything Friends of Golf does to give back. PGA Tour star Max Homa and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster were honored this year with the Eddie Merrins Statue.
Previous winners of the prestigious award include Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam, among others.
Following his passing, FOG released a statement:
“It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to a true legend and iconic figure in the game of golf, Eddie Merrins. Eddie leaves behind a legacy of giving that will endure for generations to come and has impacted tens of thousands of amateur and professional golfers alike.
He was the driving force behind the creation of Friends of Golf, which launched over four decades ago in support of both junior and amateur golfers irrespective of their economic standing. We are forever grateful for all that Eddie has done for the game of golf and we will continue to honor the best in golf annually with The Eddie Merrins Statue.”
Merrins will be posthumously honored at the 2024 charity event at Bel Air Country Club, where he was still serving as Professional Emeritus until his passing.
FOG thus far has raised over $10 million for national and local colleges, high schools and other golf-focused organizations.
Following his playing days, the legendary figure became the head professional at Bel Air Country Club. He then helped shape golf in Southern California for the next two decades. He ultimately coached UCLA to a national championship in 1988 and tutored 11 All-Americans, including Corey Pavin.
Merrins was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2009.
Eddie Merrins is survived by his wife Lisa, two sons, Mason and Michael, and daughter Randy.