PINEHURST -- What does a golfing mecca that already has everything do to enhance the playing experience?
Well, for the Pinehurst Resort that meant developing something challenging, but perhaps less intimidating than its nine championship courses, including historic No. 2 that is its centerpiece.
"This is about fun. We want you to go out there and find your fun," golf architect Gil Hanse said last week as he helped unveil Pinehurst's newest jewel, the nine-hole, short course appropriately named "The Cradle."
Carved out of land just steps from the clubhouse and where Dr. Leroy Culver created the first nine holes at Pinehurst in 1898, The Cradle is a 789-yard layout with holes ranging from 57 to 126 yards long. Hanse and his team began work on the project May 7, converting property that had been part of the first holes for courses No. 3 and 5 in just three months time.
One objective for building The Cradle was to offer a more leisurely golf option for novice players or that parents can play with their children. It's also appropriate for casual group outings and for players just trying to work on their short game.
"When we all started playing the game of golf we'd hit a shot and giggle," Hanse said. "But as you get better, you become more serious and sometimes the game gets frustrating. Here, hopefully, you can put that aside and get back to the roots of when you started the game and put that first club in your hands."
Green fees for playing The Cradle have been set at $50 for this fall. Kids ages 17-and-under can play for free while accompanied by a paying adult. Guests can play the course more than once in a day and tee times can be booked in advance. Public tee times are available 24 hours in advance and can be made by calling 1-800-ITS-GOLF.
The landscape for The Cradle is typical Pinehurst -- tall pine trees and patches of wire grass dot the course, and white, sandy bunkers protect many of the greens. And some of the greens, in keeping with the tradition of Donald Ross' famed No. 2 course, can be a bit tricky.
Each hole is named, including some after original Pinehurst links. They call the 56-yard, No. 5 hole "The Easy One," which comes immediately after the course's longest hole, the 127-yard No. 4. A large mound in the middle of the No. 4 fairway limits the view of the green from the tee, but that didn't prevent Triangle Golf Today editor Dave Droschak from scoring an ace there during a media day outing last Wednesday.
Likely to become the favorite at The Cradle, however, is the 66-yard, third hole. Many players during the media day rounds hit tee shots into the slope covering the back side of the green, which allowed the ball to trickle back down toward the hole and raise the hopes of players for a hole-in-one.
"There are a lot of natural aspects to it, but we also wanted to inspire creativity," said Hanse, who is also being charged with the redesign of Pinehurst's No. 4 Course.
This article is written by Sammy Batten from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.