Pinehurst Cradle Archive

Paul Rudovsky chooses The Cradle for his remarkable milestone

Paul Rudovsky, left, stands on the 3rd green of The Cradle with Pinehurst Country Club member Jim Rohr on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The Cradle was the 1,000th golf course Rudovsky has played in his lifetime.

Recently, Paul Rudovsky played his 1,000th different golf course: The Cradle, Pinehurst’s new 789-yard short course. But that’s only one of Rudovsky’s incredible achievements in golf.

By Alex Podlogar

Sixty-two years ago, when he was 10 years old and away from home at summer camp, Paul Rudovsky was presented with a choice.

“As an activity, I could choose between arts and crafts, soccer and golf,” Rudovsky recalls. “I picked what I thought was the least of three evils.”

He chose golf.

“And it changed my life,” he says.

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Six decades after playing nine holes at Honesdale Golf Club in eastern Pennsylvania, Rudovsky, a retired executive who has made his home in Pinehurst for about half the year since 2000, accomplished a feat few golfers could ever envision, let alone achieve.

Rudovsky played his 1,000th different golf course: The Cradle, Pinehurst’s new 789-yard, 9-hole short course.

It was not a decision Rudovsky took lightly.

“When I finished No. 999 (Bulle Rock Golf Course in Maryland), I said, ‘I’ve got to figure out where to do 1,000,’” Rudovsky says. “I came down to three possibilities – one was The Cradle, one was St. Andrew’s in Yonkers, New York, which is one of five founding clubs of the USGA … and maybe Streamsong Black, the new one.

“The more I thought about The Cradle, I said to myself, you know, that’s a neat idea. I began with nine holes. Let’s play nine for No. 1,000.”

And that’s where Rudovsky was one Wednesday afternoon, reaching his personal milestone while playing alongside Pinehurst Country Club member Jim Rohr. With a graceful swing, Rudovsky carried three wedges and a putter around The Cradle, playing each shot mindfully and with a jovial banter. He finished with a near hole-in-one on the tricky 9th hole, tapped in for birdie and collected his deuce, six 3s and two 4s into a tidy 1-over 28.

The Cradle, Pinehurst’s 789-yard, 9-hole short course designed by Gil Hanse.

Numbers and organization, you see, are important facets of Rudovsky’s life.

When, in the late 1960s, golf publications became reviewing courses and making Top 100 lists of the greatest courses in the world and United States, Rudovsky did what most people who casually glance at the annual and biennial lists tend to do – he began checking courses off.

But Rudovsky has never settled. He began compiling another list, and then another list, and even though he’d put the lists away for a few years at a time, he’d always return to them.

“My test today of a great golf course is: When you walk off of 18 or 9, do you want to go out and play it again? Is that your immediate thought?” posits Rudovsky. “And if it’s not, well, that’s not what the game’s supposed to be about.”

And with that, Rudovsky, who’s played everywhere anyone has ever wanted to possibly play, looped his Sunday bag over his right shoulder and began another loop around The Cradle.

Then, when actually forced to lie low for a period, Rudovsky’s mind really kicked into gear.

“About 10 years ago, I had a mild case of pneumonia here in Pinehurst and was in bed bored,” he says. “I said, ‘What am I going to do to pass the time?’ And I thought, well, I could update the list because I had put them all in a file and I hadn’t updated it in a couple of years anyhow. I figured it could be the world’s greatest Excel schedule.”

It is.

Pages and pages long, color-coded and using myriad abbreviations and denotations, Rudovsky’s meticulous records chart perhaps his most astonishing golf achievement:

In the time since that 10-year-old camper looked for what he thought might be the easy way out, Rudovsky has played every golf course ever listed on a golf publication’s top 100 list.

Paul Rudovsky has played every golf course that’s ever been ranked among the Top 100 by a golf publication, which, of course, includes Pinehurst No. 2.

Well, almost every one.

“In all, there were 323 courses on Top 100s around the world, five of which no longer exist,” Rudovsky says. “So, 318 do exist, and I’ve played 318.”

He finished the quest a year ago.

“It was like Frankenstein,” Rudovsky says. “Dr. Frankenstein builds a monster, which then controls his life. I did the same thing. This spreadsheet became the best bucket list manufacturer for golf the world’s ever seen.”

The quest also taught Rudovsky a firm fundamental truth about golf.

“My test today of a great golf course is: When you walk off of 18 or 9, do you want to go out and play it again? Is that your immediate thought?” posits Rudovsky. “And if it’s not, well, that’s not what the game’s supposed to be about.”

And with that, Rudovsky, who’s played everywhere anyone has ever wanted to possibly play, looped his Sunday bag over his right shoulder and began another loop around The Cradle.

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Matt Oshrine rocked The Cradle, hitting on 21 – the course record

By Alex Podlogar

Usually when a golfer shows up and asks the starter, “What’s the course record?” it’s meant to be a joke.

Matt Oshrine was serious.

The 2017 Duke graduate has spent the last few months living in Pinehurst as he’s prepared for Stage 1 of the Web.com Tour Qualifying School (UPDATE – Matt qualified for the final stage on Friday with the help of a third-round 61). In those months, though, he’d been driving by and watching as Pinehurst’s new short course, The Cradle, took shape. Eight days after it opened on Sept. 30, Oshrine got his chance to play it.

And so he asked about the course record.

“Well, I knew The Cradle had just opened, so I figured that’s the best time to set one,” Oshrine said.

Told the bar had been set at 5-under 22 – The Cradle is a 9-hole par-3 course with holes ranging from 56 to 127 yards – Oshrine knew he had little time, or holes, to waste.

BOOK A TEE TIME ON THE CRADLE

Naturally, that’s precisely what he did.

“The first hole is a pretty easy little par-3, but I just didn’t hit a very good shot,” Oshrine said. “I made a par, but it wasn’t a great start.”

A birdie on the 2nd hole made for a better feeling, but even with the punch bowl green on the 3rd, Oshrine could only manage a par there. Sitting at 1 under through three holes, breaking 22 didn’t seem all that logical.

The Cradle’s 4th hole is one of its most dramatic. On the tee, players can see all nine of the course’s greens, making for a fun thought about trying a game of HORSE from there one day. Oshrine, though, was comfortable with the shot in front of him – a 54-degree wedge from about 120 yards.

“That’s a good number for me, and the pin was on the left side,” Oshrine said. “I draw the ball, and it set up well for me. I hit it to about 4 ½ feet.”

The next two holes combine to be about 100 yards total, and Oshrine took care of those, too. “Standard little pitches,” he said. “There were some tricky pins, but I got them up and down.”

Through six holes, Oshrine was now 4 under and knew he had a shot.

One problem.

The 7th was playing tough.

“The pin was on the right side, and that was a tough spot for me,” Oshrine said. “But you have to be careful on that shot. If you miss your spot, the ball can end up in the bunker or roll off to the left. There’s not a lot of margin for error there.”

Oshrine tugged his shot a little, leaving him about 35 feet away for birdie. With no room for a bogey, Oshrine took his 2-putt par and walked to the 8th, where he made another birdie to get him to 5 under.

The 9th may be The Cradle’s toughest hole. At 112 yards, it rides the ridge overlooking the clubhouse and is guarded by two bunkers that are the most perilous on the course. The green slopes dramatically from right to left, and the approach needs to be well-placed just to even hold the green.

Before Oshrine played The Cradle, though, he played the new Thistle Dhu, Pinehurst’s 18-hole putting course that fronts the clubhouse and sits adjacent to The Cradle. While there, Oshrine could watch groups play the 9th.

“I saw one guy hit what I thought was the perfect shot, but the ball just kept rolling and rolling, and he ended up more than 20 feet away,” Oshrine said.

Matt Oshrine, far right, stands at the 9th hole of The Cradle after firing a 21 and setting the new course record.

An hour later, Oshrine himself was on the tee, knowing he needed a birdie for the record. He picked his spot.

“I hit it exactly where I wanted to,” he said. “I just knew I was going to have a kick-in birdie.”

Nope.

The ball finally stopped about 15 feet away.

Didn’t matter. Oshrine drilled the putt, and he had the record – 21.

Well, for now.

“I don’t think it’ll last long,” he said. “Twenty will happen. Actually, I think 19 might be doable.”

Perhaps.

“That’s really the best thing about The Cradle,” Oshrine said. “You could play it five days in a row, and a shot that was easy one day might be your toughest the next day. There are a lot of tricky spots out there. It’s so much fun.”

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The Golf Channel is STILL talking about The Cradle

It was only a few days ago the Golf Channel had a piece about The Cradle, Pinehurst’s new short course.

Well, Golf Channel just can’t stop talking about it. This segment appeared on Morning Drive on Tuesday:

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Carrying on at The Cradle

By Alex Podlogar

THE CONTRAPTION DOESN’T HAVE A NAME, but it has a past.

It’s small and lightweight, a simple leather-woven handle with two looping leather straps hanging from it, about a foot apart. Two buckles bring the straps’ loops together, tight enough to clasp and hold as many as four golf clubs by their shafts, running parallel to the handle.

Perhaps more clubs could test the collective strength of the straps and buckles, but there’s no need for strain here. Not on The Cradle, Pinehurst’s new 789-yard short course. Four clubs are plenty for Darlind Davis, and after confidently draining a tricky 6-footer downhill, she’s even par through three holes.

“I wish I could have scores like this all the time,” she calls to her playing partners as they head to the fourth tee.

She’ll probably need her 8-iron on the fourth, a sloping 120-yard hole crossing the width of the Gil Hanse-designed course, which features nine holes ranging in lengths of 56 yards to the expanse – if you can call it that – of the fourth hole.

Davis lays The Handle – that name seems appropriate – near the tee marker and unbuckles the straps, pulling the club she’ll need. There’s a delicateness to the process, and it quickly dawns on you that The Handle may not be all that efficient. The straps appear to be as strong as a fresh-out-of-the-box Wilson A2000, but they may in fact be older than Davis herself.

“I’m 70,” she says, “and this was my Dad’s.”

Darlind Davis, holding The Handle, stands at the 2nd green of The Cradle.

WALTER DAVIS LEARNED TO PLAY GOLF around his Navy days during World War II. He came home and became the head golf professional at what is now known as Indian Springs Golf & Country Club in Indiana, Pennsylvania. For 48 years, Davis ran the club. He was friends with Deacon Palmer, Arnold’s father, who lived about 20 miles away. Walter and the elder Palmer would share stories about trips each would take to Pinehurst way back when.

“Dad knew Arnold, but Deke was more in his age group,” Darlind says. “Dad would be so proud to know we were living in Pinehurst now.”

Over a half century, Walter saw a lot in golf change. The game got faster, for one, especially when motorized golf carts began to come onto the scene. Walter, though, preferred to walk.

“That’s what you did around the club then,” Darlind says. “It used to be, after work or after school, you’d go and play nine holes. You’d just get your clubs and go.”

Darlind doesn’t know how Walter got The Handle, but she remembers seeing him use it. “Some salesman probably talked him into it,” she says.

But it fit Walter, and those evening walks around his course. When he passed away in 1981, Darlind made sure to get The Handle.

There was really just one problem.

“I never really had a use for it,” she says. “Well, until now.”

When The Cradle opened last week, Darlind, a Pinehurst Country Club member, “tore the garage apart” to find The Handle. It took 50 years, but Pinehurst rekindled what Walter Davis had found most special about the game.

Darlind Davis can walk a quick nine holes again, shoot scores she perhaps only dreamed of shooting, and carry only the clubs she needs.

It just feels like she’s holding her dad’s hand at the same time.

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What did the Golf Channel have to say about The Cradle? A lot.

The Golf Channel got its first look at The Cradle and Thistle Dhu on Wednesday.

And they couldn’t stop talking about it.

Watch:

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