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CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLF ASSOCIATION

For Everyone Who Plays the Game

Midwest Golf House Contact: Casey Richards
11855 Archer Avenue (630) 685-2324
Lemont, IL 60439 crichards@cdga.org
Contact: Tim Merrick
(630) 685-2302
tmerrick@cdga.org
Contact: Jacob Bomeli
(630) 685-2345
jbomeli@cdga.org
 
For Immediate ReleaseMay 22, 2024
 
CERMAK’S GOLF RECLAMATION CULMINATES WITH CDGA MID-AM HARDWARE 
 
Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - ELGIN, Ill. – One morning 15 years ago represented the low point of Joe Cermak’s (Mt. Prospect / Pine Meadow GC) golf career. Wednesday morning at Elgin Country Club constituted a peak, as Cermak bested Derek Meinhart (Mattoon / Mattoon G&CC), 2 up, on a blustery morning to claim the 9th CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship.  

Following a decorated amateur career at St. Patrick High School and Iowa State, Cermak, now 38, was an aspiring professional on PGA Tour Canada. Until...

“One morning I woke up and I couldn’t walk,” Cermak recalled.

Major back surgery “ended [Cermak’s] professional dreams then and there.” Frustrated, he stepped away for the game competitively, taking up hockey as a competitive outlet. However, it didn’t take long for Cermak to be drawn back to the course.

“The game called me back,” Cermak fondly recalled.

Back as an amateur, Cermak “rebuilt” his game, diet and swing in 2013. The ensuing decade featured numerous positive moments, notably earning medalist honors in the 2023 CDGA Amateur Championship at Lake Shore Country Club.

Nothing matched the level of his accomplishment Wednesday, however. After earning the No. 4 seed with an even-par 72 on Monday, Cermak needed to overcome two past event winners (Jake Erickson and Chadd Slutzky) in his three matches to reach the showdown with Meinhart.  

Cermak found himself 1 down through four holes following a pair of early bogeys. Given the challenging conditions, however, Cermak knew Meinhart would remain within reach.

“Derek was playing very solid, but he wasn’t running away because the conditions weren’t going to let anyone run away,” Cermak said. “I just told myself to stay patient, hit decent golf shots and just try to make decent pars.”

An up-and-down par out of the greenside bunker on No. 7 for Cermak evened the match, which remained deadlocked until the 163-yard par-3 16th. Both Cermak and Meinhart were on the kidney-shaped green off the tee, with Meinhart on the right side and Cermak on the left. As is often the case on the severely undulating track, how Cermak and Meinhart navigated the green proved to be the difference.

“I was just trying to get it close,” Cermak said of his birdie look on No. 16. “I hit an okay putt and was six feet away. Derek unfortunately three-putted and I was able to muster up some strength and make that six-footer to take my first lead of the match.”

A par on No. 17 and a conceded birdie on No. 18 – completing a stretch of 14 bogey-free holes – completed Cermak’s win.

The father of two works at the Saint Patrick as the school’s director of admissions, also serving as an assistant coach on the golf team. He views the role as an opportunity to share with others the attributes of the sport that have given him so much.

“It feels good knowing that I’m continuing not just what I was able to accomplish at St. Pats, but growing the game for kids of all different backgrounds in the city and just showing them the beauty of this game,” Cermak said.

The CDGA Mid-Am represented the first of 10 Championships to be conducted by the CDGA in 2024. Up next is the 22nd CDGA Senior Amateur Championship, June 3-6 at Kishwaukee Country Club.

 
Chicago District Golf Association
The Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA) is authorized by the United States Golf Association (USGA) as the governing body for amateur golf in our region. The CDGA is a membership organization consisting of more than 106,000 individual golfers and 400 clubs in Illinois and parts of Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Golfers receive member offers, a Handicap Index® from the USGA® and competitive playing opportunities, while clubs receive Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ measuring services, turfgrass diagnostics and educational seminars. The CDGA also creates opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of the game through adaptive, therapeutic and youth Sunshine Programs, with an emphasis on serving disabled and veteran communities.
 
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Chicago District Golf Association
11855 Archer Avenue
Lemont, IL 60439

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