If I only had 90 minutes left in my life to spend on a golf course, I’d play The Cradle. I haven't traveled enough to call it the BEST par 3 course ever, but pound-for-pound it is the most fun.
Designed by Gil Hanse and opening in 2017, The Cradle is a nine-hole short course that golfers of any skill level can enjoy.
The plot of land was once described by Golf Channel as “the most fun 10 acres in all of golf.”
It’s easy to see why as you walk up the property and look out onto the lush green rolling hills of the course.
Maybe it was the perfect 70 degree sunny weather in late December or it could have been the drinks at lunch, but the closer I got to teeing off my smile kept getting bigger and bigger.
Playing around 789 yards total with just three hole measuring over 100 yards (No. 1: 113, No. 4: 127 and No. 9: 112), you can easily play the course with one wedge and your putter.
The tee boxes are pristine and you hit off mats into the fast and sloping greens. Often players will make their trek around the track barefoot.
I know the statement it’s a vibe is overused and hard to understand, HOWEVER playing the Cradle is quite truly a vibe.
My favorite hole was No. 3, a quirky little 66 yard hole that is commonly known as the punch bowl because of how the green filters towards the center.
The shot to the pin is blind and there is a slope behind the hole that everyone plays to get close to the pin. Behind the third green and near the fourth tee there is a bar called the Cradle Crossing.
Players often stand on top of the hill behind the third green with drinks in their hands cheering, clapping and giving thumbs up or down to players with no clue where there ball has finished.
I played pitch off the hill to a round of applause and thumbs up. I felt invincible. As I approached the green my ball was 5 feet above the hole. Easy birdie.
Yeah, right. I left my ball on the wrong side of the pin and after barely touching my putt, I had 8 feet coming back up the hill for par. Easiest bogey I’ve ever made.
There is often a long wait between the third and fourth holes which no one seems to mind because the drinks are flowing.
You never know who you’ll see or what other golfers you’ll chat up while you wait for honors on the tee box.
We met a group of guys from Canada that drove to North Carolina for a day before heading to Georgia and Florida for the rest of their golf siesta.
If your ball is anywhere on the course besides a bunker the prudent play is most likely to putt it.
My time in the course was short but it was very memorable.
Playing The Cradle is a great escape and you can turn your mind off and truly live in the moment.
Pinehurst is commonly referred to as the Cradle of American Golf and after less than 24 hours on site it was easy for me to see why.
Come back tomorrow to read about the most simple and yet incredibly perfect golf course that’s ever been designed. Of course, I’m referring to Pinehurst No. 2.