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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Only the Meeks Need Apply

Eric Meeks is the unassuming guy banging balls at the west end of the TaylorMade Golf Experience driving range. He hits the sweet spot on most shots. He’s been doing that for most of his life dating back to his days of junior golf in Southern California all the way up through his professional playing days.

One difference lately is that he isn’t the only golfer hitting it pure in the area. Meeks, who won the 1988 U.S. Amateur prior to a long professional career, now operates the Eric Meeks School of Golf and he has a stable of golfers at all levels including a few top junior players who are attempting to follow in his footsteps. One notable young player is Cameron Meeks, Eric’s son, who goes to work with his dad whenever he can. Cameron also hits the sweet spot. Meeks not only teaches the fundamentals to his son and the other students, but also shares his playing memories.

"Due to my experience playing the game, I am able to convey unique insights to my students about what I have learned," says Meeks, who was paired with eventual U.S. Open Champion Curtis Strange and reigning British Open Champion Seve Ballesteros at the 1989 U.S. Open, a benefit of winning the U.S. Am. "It's a very unique opportunity for golfers because playing against the best in the world gives me a different perspective on teaching. Not only can I help with the technical side of the game, but also with the mental side and I know exactly what it takes to be successful at the highest level. That is a benefit for young golfers on the way up or for everyday golfers just looking to improve. One thing I have definitely learned is that there is more than one way to get it done, and every swing is different. The great players all swing differently so there is not just one way to play the game. However, golfers do need to know why they miss, and I can help identify that. I learn a lot by watching ball flight, and a divot will pretty much tell me the whole story about a swing. The game can be very complicated so I try to keep it simple."

While Meeks’ main focus is on running the school and helping other golfers, he still has a major playing goal that he hopes to accomplish. Meeks turns 50 soon and winning the U.S. Senior Open is on his radar. He is just beginning his preparations to win that tournament in addition to attempting to qualify for the Champions Tour. The focus he has on the Senior Open is similar to his tunnel vision that allowed him to win the amateur in ’88.

“I can tell you that for many years from junior golf on, I focused on the U.S. Amateur and I always wanted to win that tournament," says Meeks, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1998. "I used to watch it on TV, and I just had it in my mind that it would be a cool thing to win that tournament. And then once I did win, it was such a huge sense of accomplishment. My parents were there so I got to share the moment with them, and it was just a very emotional time. Even speaking about it now is emotional. To see my name included on that trophy was incredible. The greatest players in the history of golf are on that trophy. And being the reigning U.S. Amateur champion was special. I was able to represent my country in the Walker Cup, I was paired with Curtis Strange and Seve Ballesteros in the U.S. Open, I played The Masters, and I was the #1 amateur in the world. It was basically like living a dream. I knew at the time it was a major accomplishment, but looking back now I have an even deeper appreciation."

Meeks welcomes all golfers to his school at the TaylorMade Golf Experience and will show off his trophies from his playing days to whoever wishes to take a peak. And, yes, there’s a spot available for the Frederick L. Dold trophy that is given to the winner of the United States Senior Open.

The Eric Meeks Golf School of Golf is available at 702-546-6562 or EricMeeksGolf.com.

Meeks by the Numbers
- 1988 United States Amateur Champion
- #1 Ranked amateur in United States by Golf Digest Magazine
- U.S. Walker Cup Team member
- U.S. World Amateur Team member
- Collegiate All-American @ Univ. of Arizona
- 20+ year professional playing career (1989 to 2009)
- Nationwide Tour Member 1996, 2000-2003 (top 20 on money list)                                          
- Asian PGA Tour Member (four-time top 15 money list finish)

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