Man makes ace at Pinehurst's Cradle with late father's 1920s niblick

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
Man makes ace at Pinehurst's Cradle with late father's 1920s niblick

A question that's often debated in golf: Is a hole-in-one on a short course the same as a hole-in-one on a regular course?
There are varying opinions on this.
But for one man who has three aces on regular courses and one on a short course, they're not equal -- the one on the short course means more to him than any of the other three.
Ray Elliott, 67, aced the 66-yard third hole -- the Punchbowl -- at Pinehurst Resort's new "Cradle" short course on Monday.
"This hole-in-one means more to me than all three of the other ones combined," he told Pinehurst Media Relations Manager Alex Podlogar. "This one will stay with me for the rest of my life."
So why was this one so special?
For that answer, you've got to go back 95 years to 1923.
Elliott's father -- Ray Sr. -- was a caddie at New Hampshire's Laconia Country Club. He came from a poor family, but gravitated toward golf. Since he couldn't afford clubs, Ray Sr. put together a set from "throwaways" -- the clubs members would throw away when they fell out of favor.
By age 15, Ray Sr. was a scratch player with those throwaways and eventually handed them down to his son. 
Ray Jr., a member at Pinehurst Country Club, has an affinity for hickory clubs and uses them whenever he plays the Cradle, including two of his dad's throwaways.
When Ray Jr. made his ace on Monday, it was with one of his dad's originals -- a 1920s niblick. 
Playing by himself, Elliott lined the throwaway off the steep hill behind the pin, and watched from the tee as the ball began its rolling descent. By the time he reached the green, Elliott didn’t see a ball.
"I knew it had to be in the hole," he says.
Elliott asked the group in front of him to walk with him to the cup to verify the hole-in-one. A shiver went through him.
"It’s not so much that it was a hole-in-one," Elliott says, his eyes misting. "It’s that I had done it with my father’s club. With that club."
No wonder it's Ray Jr.'s favorite ace of all.