The Cradle – The Most Entertaining 10 Acres in All of Golf

by | May 3, 2023 | Where to Play

The Cradle – The Most Entertaining 10 Acres in All of Golf

The Cradle is a delightful nine-hole short course (Par-3 course) that can be enjoyed by even those new to the game of golf. It was designed by the renowned golf architect Gil Hanse and has been dubbed “the most entertaining 10 acres in all of golf” by the Golf Channel. Conveniently located just a few steps from the Pinehurst Resort Clubhouse, it is the same area where Dr. Leroy Culver carved out the first nine holes at Pinehurst in 1898.

The short course is, in some ways, a beautiful little brother to No. 2, with clean, contoured greens and just enough of the rough look associated with the minimalist course design. Flanked by the Thistle Dhu ( “This’ll Do”) Putting Course, the Cradle can provide players a chance to sharpen their short-game skills or a fun way to unwind after a day of golf.

At The Cradle, the large, sloping greens pose a significant challenge and contribute to its distinctive character. Gil Hanse has infused each putting surface with unique attributes that impact every aspect of the game, such as approach shots, recovery options, and, of course, putting. Although there are hardly any straight putts, most greens showcase only one significant characteristic, making very few putts impossible.

There isn’t any rough at The Cradle; the greens are protected by sand and slopes. Despite the abundance of sand, only a tiny portion of it comes into play. The waste bunkers outline the course and add to its visual appeal.

“We try to make sure that everybody is relaxed. When they’re worried about their ability, I tell them they don’t need to worry about it,” said Cradle starter Curt Hoffman. “Everything at Pinehurst is so steeped in history, and everything is so reverent, it’s nice to just let your hair down. We’re about having fun out here. Come out, hit your wedges, and have a good time.”


The Cradle Crossing, a pavilion area and open-air bar complete with fire pits and outdoor seating

The Cradle Crossing, a pavilion area and small open-air bar complete with Adirondack seating areas and a couple of fire pits, sits on the ridge between the 3rd hole and 4th tee. It has become a gathering place for golfers to oversee The Cradle, particularly the third hole, known as The Punchbowl.

According to Gil Hanse, “The third hole is probably the most unique in character; it’s a little uphill semi-blind shot of about 70 yards into a punch bowl, green. You can’t see what happens to your ball on the green. You are totally dependent on the cheers and jeers of the people watching from The Cradle Crossing to let you know how things are going on the green. So, a really fun little golf hole. You could even take a putter off the tee if you wanted to and knock it up through the neck and onto the green”.

Experience an unforgettable golfing challenge at The Cradle, where holes range from 56 to 127 yards and feature strategic waste areas and undulating greens. This course offers a thrilling experience for beginners and seasoned pros alike, leaving you with a lasting impression.

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About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Alan Darty</a>

Alan Darty

Alan is the founder and publisher of Golf One Media and the former publisher of eSouthernGOLF—a second-generation Florida native who loves all things Florida. You can usually find him with his wife, watching their two daughters coaching volleyball at Oviedo (FL) High School or Mississippi State University when he's not golfing, hunting, or fishing.