"Bruce Cudd and Dick Yost named to the 1955 U.S. Walker Cup Team"
Much to the delight of Northwest golfers, that was the headline appearing in Portland's Oregonian in the spring of 1955. Cudd and Yost were not the first Northwesterners to be so honored, and certainly won't be the last. Other stars from the region to be named to prior U.S. Walker Cup Teams – the pinnacle of amateur golf in America – included the Northwest's first honoree, Oscar F. Willing from Portland. Subsequent team members included Don Moe, Albert E. "Scotty" Campbell and Harry Givan of Seattle, Marvin "Bud" Ward of Olympia and later Spokane, and Everett's Jack Westland.
When the announcement was made, Portland golfers and members of Columbia-Edgewater Country Club – where Cudd and Yost belonged – believed this was the first time two players from the same club were on a Walker Cup Team. Cudd straightened them out, saying it happened on "two or three other occasions." Regardless, young Bruce and Dick were thrilled to be selected. Ever since the two protégés of the Oregon Golf Association's junior program began playing golf, they dreamed of becoming Walker Cuppers.
Bruce Cudd, a 21-year-old University of Portland student at the time, made his selection to the team an easy one. He enjoyed a remarkable year in 1954, and remained at the top of his game throughout the early 1950's. At Seattle's Broadmoor Golf Club in 1954, he won the Western Amateur, the second most important amateur men's event in the country at the time. Winning the Western almost guaranteed selection to the Walker Cup team.
Cudd was introduced to golf by his father, whom he accompanied to the practice range and assisted as a caddie. During one of these sessions, Cudd watched Dick Yost practicing at Rose City Golf Course. Quite often when Yost practiced, a crowd would gather. Yost would perform golfing feats, asking onlookers what type of shot they'd like him to execute: left-to-right, right-to-left, high fade or low draw. A life-long friendship and mutual admiration soon formed between the younger Cudd and Yost. Asked for a reason behind his success between 1953 and 1956, Cudd responded, "Dick Yost was in the service and could not compete locally."
As a junior golfer, Cudd bought a $45 yearly pass that allowed unlimited play on Portland's municipal courses. On these links Cudd honed his golfing skills against such fine players as Bob Atkinson, Ken Baine, Don Krieger and Phil Getchell. In 1950 Cudd's steady diet of golf bore fruit when he won the Oregon Junior Boys' Championship.
After departing the junior ranks, Cudd continued his outstanding play. He later attributed two events to propelling his outstanding amateur career. "First, Dick Yost and I were asked by Columbia-Edgewater to join the club as intermediate members. There were no initiation fees and the monthly dues were nine dollars a month. [This was just a] slight increase over the $45 a year I was paying on the city courses. Second, I was given a scholarship to attend the University of Portland, which enabled me to stay at home, play golf, and go to school."
Moving to the Top Echelon of Northwest Golf
In 1952 and 1953, Cudd established his place among the Northwest's top players by winning the Oregon Amateur both years. (He did not defend this title in 1954 as he was playing in the National Intercollegiate Golf Championship.) Cudd was also finalist in the 1952 Oregon Coast Invitational, one of the Northwest's oldest, continuous golf tournaments. In the 1952 PNGA Men's Amateur Championship at Tacoma Country & Golf Club, Cudd defeated the previous year's PNGA champion, Ray Weston, in the first round. Bruce met the legendary Jack Westland in the semifinal.
After overcoming an embarrassing incident on the first tee with Westland (see sidebar), Cudd earned a spectacular win over the defending champion. Cudd birdied the first hole and never relinquished the lead. Unfortunately, Bruce was never a factor in the final match with Bill Mawhinney. Mawhinney ruined the youngster's birthday by clobbering him, 8 & 7. Mawhinney was definitely in a zone in 1952, winning four events before his victory in the PNGA. When he returned home in Vancouver, B.C., Mawhinney described the event: "Everybody was pleased that a Canadian had finally won the championship. In fact, Harry Givan, the medalist, said it was about time a Canadian won the tournament."
In 1953 Bruce Cudd and Tal Smith led a 32-man contingent of the finest golfers on the Pacific Coast into the Oregon Amateur at Columbia-Edgewater Country Club. Cudd and Yost, then a soldier at Camp Roberts in California, met in the 36-hole match-play final on their home course. Private Yost's triumph was his first in three attempts in the Oregon Amateur. The previous year in 1952, Cudd defeated "Yogi," as Yost was affectionately called, en route to the title. This time, however, it was Yost's turn, and the U.S. Army's West Coast golf champion responded with wonderful play. Under Yost's barrage of sub-par golf, Cudd lost 6 & 5.
Cudd was a finalist in the 1952 Oregon Coast Invitational, losing on the last hole. He won Western States Champion of Champions events in 1953 and 1954, a stroke-play affair held in Sheridan, Wyoming. As a 20-year-old, Cudd further established himself in the 1953 Northwest Open at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, Washington. Royal Oaks' difficult layout was made even tougher by the shaving and hardening of its table-top greens. Though the field included such fine professionals as Stan Leonard, Bob Duden and Chuck Congdon, Cudd "spread-eagled the field," according to newspaper accounts. His six-under-par 282 – with rounds of 69, 68, 73 and 72 – was four strokes better than John Langford's total.
Cudd's win in the 1954 Oregon Open at Tualatin Country Club showed that his Pacific Northwest Open title wasn't a fluke. Cudd was tied after 54 holes with amateur Ralph Dichter of Astoria Golf & Country Club at 216, seven strokes behind Eddie Hogan, the veteran professional at Riverside Golf & Country Club in Portland. It appeared everyone was playing for second, but Hogan faltered in the last round with a 79; an out-of-bounds tee shot on the 10th hole set the stage for Hogan's disaster. With Eddie fading, Cudd and Dichter staged a nip-and-tuck battle, with Cudd emerging victorious.
Western Win Leads to Bigger ThingsBecause of his strong showing in amateur events during 1952 and 1953, Cudd merited consideration for the 1955 Walker Cup Team. What really clinched his berth was winning the 1954 Western Amateur. Winning the Western was a favorite pastime for Washington and Oregon golfers. While at St. Paul Golf Club in Minnesota, Frank Dolp became the region's first Western winner in 1926. Dolp won again in 1928. Seattle's Bon Stein beat Eddie Held at Seattle Golf Club in the 1927 Western Amateur, and Don Moe captured Western crowns in 1929 and 1931. Jack Westland added the Western to his trophy case in 1933. With wins in 1940, 1941 and 1947, Bud Ward won more Western Amateur titles than any Northwest player.
A big threat in the 1954 Western Amateur was Eddie Draper of Seattle, who had earlier defeated Gene Littler in the first round of the 1953 PNGA Men's Amateur Championship. Bruce Cudd led a group of excellent golfers from Portland. The organizers of the Western Amateur trotted out a couple of million dollars worth of "talent" for the event at Seattle's Broadmoor Golf Club. Movie stars Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Phil Harris played in the tournament. Having won three consecutive overtime matches, Cudd eclipsed the star-studded field to capture the title, defeating Phil Getchell, a junior golfer from Medford, Oregon, on the 37th hole.
The week following his 1954 Western victory, Cudd was at one of the most memorable events in Canadian golf history: the Canadian Open at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. In the final round, Bruce was paired with Pat Fletcher, a professional from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Cudd was one shot back with three holes to play but eventually lost. He finished at 285, tied for third, and was low amateur with Doug Bajus. Bajus beat Cudd in a playoff. Meanwhile, Fletcher won the tournament. Fletcher's 1954 win was important in the annals of Canadian golf as he became the first Canadian-born player to win the Open championship in 40 years. Even today, tremendous pressure is placed on Canadian professionals to win the nation's championship.
Following his selection to the Walker Cup Team in 1955, Bruce Cudd's competitive golf career slowed. He entered the insurance business after graduating from the University of Portland. But a yearn to play professionally led him to join the PGA Tour in 1965. For a year and a half Cudd played for money, but with little success. His sure-fire putting stroke in the 1950's had gradually become unreliable.
In summing up his career, Cudd allows he's had success on the golf course. But, perhaps more importantly, he's thankful for developing long-lasting friendships, and he credits the PNGA for introducing him to many of his best golf friends.