Las Vegas, Nevada (December 12, 2013)–Eric Meeks is a member of a small club of golfers who possess the greatest prize in amateur golf: The Havemeyer Trophy. That iconic award is annually given to the U.S. Amateur champion. Meeks, who operates the Eric Meeks School of Golf at the TaylorMade Golf Experience (formerly Callaway Golf Center), won his “Am” in 1988, routing Eric Yates 7 and 6 at Virginia Hot Springs Golf and Country Club. In the process, he foreever linked his name with Bobby Jones, Frances Ouimet, Jack Nicklaus, and other golf royalty. –By Brian Hurlburt.
“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 difficult, but looking back now I have an even deeper appreciation.”
While champions are obligated to return the official trophy after one year (“It was really kind of difficult to give it back,” Meeks says), he still displays a replica trophy and other memorabilia at his School at the TaylorMade Golf Experience. His School is open to both visiting and local Las Vegas golfers, and he offers individual lessons or full golf school experiences. Also working with him are accomplished teachers Keith Morgan and Meeks’ brother, Aaron, who caddied for him during the U.S. Amateur. Click now to view the official website of the Eric Meeks School of Golf.
Eric Meeks is 48 now, and about 25 years removed from his signature golf moment. He is eyeing a return to competitive golf when he turns 50, but he is very comitted to his School and to helping others learn and enjoy the game. A main focus is working with juniors, including his own son, Cameron, one of the best young players in the city. But he works with golfers of all ages in his “new” hometown.
“We love Las Vegas, and it was a terrific decision to move here in 1998,” says Meeks, who grew up in Southern California before playing collegiate golf at the University of Arizona. “This is our home, and we have met a lot of wonderful people here. As for the School, we will teach anybody but a passion for us is working with junior golfers and helping them reach their goals, whether it be playing in high school, getting a college scholarship, or helping them fulfill the dream of playing professional golf.”
The TaylorMade Golf Experience features a lighted, two-tiered practice facility, a lighted 9-hole course, the Upper Deck Restaurant, and a brand new retail center created in direct coordination with officials from the TaylorMade company. The “Experience” is a very popular spot for both local and visiting golfers, and is located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, seconds away from major Strip hotels and resorts. The Meeks School is a major part of the operation, and he and his staff offer video analysis, playing lessons, and transportation to and from area resorts.
“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. “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.”
As for an overriding teaching philosphy, Meeks relies on his playing experience to guide him. “One thing I have definitely learned is that there is more than one way to get it done, and every swing is different,” says Meeks. “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.”
The Meeks File
– 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
– 1st Team All Pac-10 @ Univ. of Arizona
– Multiple collegiate wins (individual & team)
– 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)
– South African PGA Tour member
– Multiple career wins
– Over 200+ top ten finishes worldwide
Best Quick Tip
– Swing the club to the target.