Two For The Money: SCGA Junior Unveils The Merrins Legacy Program
The highest levels of golf serve as a showcase to those who made it. Talent, determination and opportunity are three pillars that spell success.
For SCGA Junior members Diamond and Jasmine Lew, the first two pillars have already been erected; they had just been waiting, and hoping, for an opportunity like this one.
The Lews were selected to be the first Merrins Legacy Program participants. A program developed in conjunction with legendary golf instructor, SCGA Hall of Famer and “Little Pro” Eddie Merrins and SCGA Junior, it aims to help underserved, but immensely talented golfers looking for a catapult towards college golf.
“I was a youngster once myself, so I know what junior golf means to people,” said Merrins, who speaks with unparalleled wisdom. “Giving back is a love that’s born out of my own participation as a junior. I want to help wherever I can because that’s where the game needs to grow.”
Merrins, the founder of SCGA Junior sponsor Friends of Golf, graciously offered this unique opportunity exclusively to SCGA Junior, in hopes the program could pinpoint two worthy youngsters each year.
Along with weekly sessions with Merrins at Bel-Air CC, each child receives $500 to use towards tournament fees, helping with the exposure that every junior golfer needs in this day and age.
“It’s really a dream come true,” said Chapman Lew, the juniors’ father. “I’m glad someone has taken interest in helping them reach the next level. We’ve always had limited funds, so everything helps.”
Diamond, a 16-year-old junior at North Hollywood High School, fell in love with golf because of the challenges that it poses. Working on the betterment of one’s flaws, while oftentimes frustrating, is what keeps his curiosity perked.
“When I first met Eddie, we clicked immediately,” said Diamond. “His knowledge is so vast and he’s so cerebral. I felt like I had direct insight into how the game should be played.”
Self-awareness is something that every 16 year old certainly does not posses. But Diamond has a jumpstart on the field in this sense, making it easy for Merrins to diagnose issues with his golf game.
“I’m trying to piece together my golf game and specifically need help with the chipping and putting yips,” said Diamond, a 3 Handicap. “I have aspirations of going D-I and then professional. I know I have the potential, but Mr. Merrins is now there to help me. I’m getting closer.”
Diamond and Eddie have been working more on the mental side of golf, some of which is easily transferrable into everyday life. Eddie has been schooling Diamond on the need to keep a level head; never too high, never too low.
“When we first set foot on the range, we talked for a while before even picking up the clubs,” said Diamond. “I realized that this was the person that can take me to the next level. He’s the one. It’s a perfect match.”
Jasmine, a 15-year-old sophomore at John Marshall High School, consistently outdrives boys of her own age. Known for speaking soft but carrying a heavy stick, Jasmine credits the game of golf and SCGA Junior for breaking out of her shell.
“I used to be really shy,” said Jasmine. “But now I’ve become a much more mature and social person. I love making friends with people from all over the world.”
Jasmine plans on committing to a high-level D-I program. With Merrins’ help, she believes that path is imminent, if not certain. She’s already received letters from Auburn, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Illinois, Fresno State, Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi, among others.
“It’s really amazing to work with Mr. Merrins,” said Jasmine. “The advice he gives is so inspirational. He gives me a great mindset for the golf course and life in general. Mostly about persistency.”
Jasmine and Diamond have a long-standing relationship with golf, as it served as a common interest throughout their childhood and provided great memories.
“One of my favorite memories from growing up is when my brother and I would play Roosevelt GC,” Jasmine reflected. “I was small enough to strap myself on his golf bag and would fall asleep while he pushed me around.”
While the Lew siblings have shared a fond past, they’re looking ahead together towards their common goal of competing at the D-I level.
Through the opportunity afforded to them by SCGA Junior, the Lew children are in a better position now than ever to reach their full potential. It’s a long cry from the days when Chapman thought they were going to have to give up the game.
“Before we joined [SCGA Junior] I was looking everywhere to find affordable resources,” said Chapman. “I was considering pulling them from golf to pick up another sport.”
“But thankfully SCGA Junior is a one-stop shop,” said a grateful Chapman. “The access is incredible. It’s truly been a god-send.”
The benefits of their family’s relationship with SCGA Junior are not lost on the adolescents. Both understand and are appreciative of the program’s assistances.
“They give back to kids like us who don’t really have a chance, especially financially,” said Jasmine. “They taught me that’s it’s cool to give back.”
For Diamond, it’s had an even deeper impact, as he feels it’s where he began his maturation into a young man while coaching kids that he can relate to.
“I love helping the younger generation,” said Diamond. “When I watch them, I see myself. A bunch of spunky kids just learning how to grow up.”
With affordable access there for the children of the Lew household from the SCGA Junior Golf Pass, it’s just been a struggle to find budget-friendly coaching and exposure. Providing both is exactly what the Merrins Legacy Program does.
While the opportunity has been presented by SCGA Junior, it’s up to the Lew duo to take advantage.
“They can be as good as they want to be,” said Merrins. “Both have a penchant for the game, great swings and are students of the game. The door is wide open, it’s strictly up to them now. I believe they’ll do great.”
Onward they will go, with a Little Pro’s blessing.