World Golf Teachers Hall of Famer, Former UCLA Men’s Golf Coach and Bel-Air Country Club Teaching Professional Co-Founded Non-Profit Organization
The Eddie Merrins Statue Annually Awarded to Golf’s Top Players
Los Angeles, CA – Friends of Golf (FOG), the non-profit organization co-founded by World Golf Teachers Hall of Famer, former UCLA men’s golf coach and teaching professional Eddie Merrins (“The Little Pro”), has issued a statement on his recent passing and plans to posthumously honor Merrins at its annual fundraising golf tournament in 2024.
Friends of Golf released the following 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 Friends of Golf’s annual charity golf tournament in 2024 at the Bel-Air Country Club. The Eddie Merrins Statue has annually been given to many of golf’s greatest male and female stars at the fundraising tournament.
This past year, PGA Tour professional and Southern California native Max Homa and LPGA star and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster received the Merrins Statue at FOG’s 42nd annual tournament. Past recipients include Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Ernie Els, Annika Sörenstam, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa, who was honored in 2022.
Originally founded in 1979, FOG (www.friendsofgolf.org) has donated over $10 million to both national and local college, high school and other golf-focused organizations and has honored many of the game’s top players over the last four decades.
FOG also partners with the Golf Coaches of America and The LPGA Foundation to annually honor the top collegiate male and female golfers with both The Ben Hogan Award and The Dinah Shore Trophy. FOG has allocated its funds, along with used golf equipment, to hundreds of high school golf programs, 25 college and university golf teams, and 7 scholarship foundations across the USA.
Merrins was a true golf legend, one of the most admired and respected figures in the game for more than half a century. An accomplished junior and amateur player growing up in Mississippi, he turned professional in 1957 and played in over 200 PGA Tour events.
After stints as an instructor at the legendary Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, Thunderbird Country Club in Palm Springs, and the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, in 1962 he became head professional at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, where he was still serving as Professional Emeritus up until his passing. At Bel-Air, Merrins worked with some of the biggest names in professional golf and in the entertainment industry alike.
Under Merrins’ leadership, the UCLA men’s golf program developed into one of the best in country, and it was under his direction (1975-1989) that some of the brightest PGA stars of the eighties and nineties shined in college. A 1955 graduate of Louisiana State University, Merrins coached UCLA to the national championship in 1988 and tutored 11 All-Americas — including NCAA players of the year Corey Pavin and Duffy Waldorf. He was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.
Originally founded in 1979, FOG has donated over $10 million to both national and Southern California college, high school and non-profit golf-focused organizations. Legendary professional golfer and Bel-Air Country Club teaching pro Eddie Merrins (“The Little Pro”) and a group of Los Angeles-area golfer helped organize FOG’s first annual golf tournament intended to benefit the neighboring UCLA men’s golf program. Since then, FOG has hosted 42 annual charity golf tournaments at Bel-Air Country Club and honored some of the game’s top stars including Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo, Annika Sörenstam, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Lorena Ochoa and Collin Morikawa. FOG supports student athlete golfers by instilling the values of honesty, ethics, and fellowship with a true appreciation for the game. From the time boys and girls enter grade school through the end of their college experience, FOG makes it possible for aspiring junior golfers (irrespective of economic standing) to play, compete and excel in this exceptional sport. FOG also backs a number of leading national amateur golf awards including The Ben Hogan Trophy, presented each year to the top male college golfer and The Dinah Shore Trophy, which is similarly presented to the top female golfer through a joint venture with the LPGA Foundation. Friends of Golf, Inc. is recognized as a non-profit, tax-deductible organization through Federal I.D. #95-3668541 and the State of California Franchise Tax Board Organization #1058257. (www.friendsofgolf.org)