BY ALEX PODLOGAR
Luke Rhodes is 6 years old, but he looks like he’s going on 4. He’s still just a little guy. Grandpa Ray says Luke still wears toddler-sized clothes every once in a while.
So, on The Cradle on Wednesday afternoon, Luke’s club of choice on the short course at Pinehurst was an obvious one – for him. On the 90-yard 8th hole, Luke needed the lumber.
He chose his Powerbilt hybrid, pulling off his North Carolina Tar Heels headcover. He placed his bag and his headcover on the ground, where Cale, his 9-year-old cousin and an N.C. State fan, got an idea.
Luke took out his yellow Srixon 4 and placed it on the tee. It wasn’t the ball Luke had used earlier that day. After making his first par ever on the 3rd hole, Luke’s grandfather Ray stored away the first ball as a keepsake.
Luke got into his stance. Meanwhile Cale, with their grandmother Berdi as an accomplice, got into Luke’s bag. The two of them wanted to play a little trick on little Luke by hiding his UNC headcover.
Ray kept his eye on the ball.
With a mighty cut, Luke lofted the ball into the air. If it could just get over the front right bunker…
“I remember thinking, ‘That’s going to be pretty close,’” says Ray. “It got over the bunker and just rolled and rolled.”
Cale and Berdi looked up from their treachery. They didn’t see the shot. And they sure as heck didn’t see a ball.
Luke looked back at Ray.
And then jumped into Ray’s arms.
“I know, Luke!” Ray exclaimed. “A hole-in-one!”
On Dec. 10, 2017, Ella Hannant made an ace on the 3rd hole of The Cradle, becoming the youngest at the time to make a hole-in-one on Pinehurst’s short course. She was 8, and until Oct. 9, 2019, her record stood.
Luke Rhodes clipped her by almost two years.
And three weeks ago, on Sept. 25, The Cradle’s designer, Gil Hanse, made his first hole-in-one, and he did it on The Cradle, acing the 2nd hole.
Luke, the little first-grader from nearby Sanford, beat Gil to his first ace by 50 years.
Ray kept that ball, too.
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