Familiar faces in Walker Cup galleries
Saturday, September 12, 2009
ARDMORE, Pa. — Faces in the crowd at the 42nd Walker Cup Match at Merion: Herb Kohler, whose Whistling Straits course will host a little match-play event of its own down the road (2020 Ryder Cup), John Ashworth, Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw, Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas, and “the Little Pro,” Eddie Merrins, who earlier this year was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
McGraw has three players in this week’s event – Morgan Hoffmann, Peter Uihlein and Rickie Fowler – so it comes as no huge surprise that the Cowboys don’t have a college tournament this week. They’ll play next week at Olympia Fields outside Chicago.
“A quick turnaround,” he said.
Merrins, 77, who has been the pro at Bel-Air Country Club in L.A. since 1962 – the year this writer was born – has a connection to Merion. It is where he landed his first club-pro job, back in 1957, shortly after he competed at the U.S. Open at Inverness. He was a playing pro and a teaching pro at Merion for three years, leaving in 1959.
“I give this place a lot of credit for my success,” he said. “It taught me a lot about the game, its tradition, and how to play. It’s also where I started as a teacher. In my job, I was expcted to teach and to work on my own golf game ... and it really got me into the science of teaching.
“Lo and behold, I learned to love that.”