A hole-in-one is arguably the luckiest feat in sports.
The wind needs to blow the right way. You need to hit the 1.68-inch ball perfectly on the club’s sweet spot that’s the size of a fingernail. The ball also needs to roll, spin and dip around the rugged green before it finds the cup.
But maybe for Port Huron’s Joe Mericka, hole-in-ones aren’t just luck. Considering the 66-year-old has hit 13 of them, it’s safe to say he doesn’t have to credit getting a good break.
“I (used to) always joke with everybody,” the Port Huron Golf Club member said. “I’m too old to hit unlucky 13.”
Looking back at his baker’s dozen of aces, Mericka actually said this one was more exciting because of the setting. On Monday he got to celebrate his feat with LPGA golfer Mi Hyang Lee in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open Pro-Am at the London Hunt and Country Club in Ontario.
“She was more excited than any of the people I was with,” Mericka said. “Which is funny, because I can only imagine how many she’s seen.”
His wife, Betty, and friends Michael and Heather Lerner were both in the fivesome as well.
The group played strong throughout the whole day to card a 55, good enough to tie for first in the 19-team Pro-Am.
After 56 years of golfing, he still holds the memory of his first ace, at 18 years old, closely.
The most recent was Mericka’s third hole-in-one in a competition, and it was also not his first in the presence of a notorious golfer.
Back in college, his team had a match against Florida. He didn’t know it at the time, but the person he would hit a hole-in-one against would go on to win two U.S. Open titles.
Yes, it was Andy North who watched Mericka use a 1-iron to put an ace on the scorecard. While North wasn’t one to talk on the golf course, he still threw a compliment or two at Mericka.
If 13 hole-in-ones aren’t enough to prove Mericka has been one of the area’s top golfers, his list of wins will change that. He’s won area club titles at Black River, Port Huron Golf Club and St. Clair Golf Club. He’s also gone up north to win the Kircher Cup and headed into Canada to win the Sarnia Invitational’s championship.
Back home, it’s still the hole-in-one balls that get the most recognition. Actually, not all of them.
Mericka said he has about six or eight golf balls mounted, and the rest are “scattered around.” However, lucky number 13 will get it’s spot on a plaque.
“I’m obviously having this one mounted,” he said. “This one was just really special.”