Pinehurst News

Pinehurst to open The Cradle, its new 9-hole short course, on September 30

Upon seeing the first golf course built in Pinehurst, founder James Walker Tufts was struck by how naturally the game fit into the landscape in front of him. “Golf experts and all those who cherish the hope of becoming such will find excellent opportunity to indulge in the game at Pinehurst,” Tufts remarked wistfully in 1898.

On September 30, nearly 120 years after golf arrived at Pinehurst, the historic resort will open The Cradle, a nine-hole short course that even the newest to the game can enjoy. Designed by golf architect Gil Hanse, The Cradle, at 789 yards, features holes ranging from 56 to 127 yards. Mere steps from the Resort Clubhouse, it is the same area where, in 1898, Dr. Leroy Culver carved the first nine holes out of the sand at Pinehurst. Over the next century, Pinehurst came to be referred to as the Cradle of American Golf.

“Pinehurst’s place in golf goes back almost as far as the time the game was first introduced in America,” says Pinehurst Owner and CEO Bob Dedman Jr. “As we embark on the latest era at Pinehurst, it’s symbolic that our newest course sits on the same ground as the original first holes of golf at Pinehurst. We look forward to watching players of all ages and all abilities enjoy golf at The Cradle.”


Hanse’s design incorporates the native sandscape and wiregrass common to the original courses of Pinehurst. With holes that meander along the rolling terrain, The Cradle’s greens subtly blend into the surrounding landscape and are protected by rough-hewn bunkers, all features that have long been hallmarks of Pinehurst golf.

“The beauty of golf at Pinehurst is that it is very natural, traditional and classic, especially architecturally,” says Hanse, whose restoration credits include projects at The Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Merion Golf Club and Oakland Hills Country Club as well as the original design work of The Olympic Golf Course in Brazil. “That Pinehurst character, we believe, permeates through The Cradle. These nine little golf holes are on a historic piece of land, and we feel like each hole has its own identity that fosters the creativity golfers have enjoyed here for more than a century.”

Kids 17 and under play The Cradle free when accompanied by a paying adult, and The Cradle will be open to the public.

Greens fees for The Cradle are $50 this fall, and will vary seasonably. Kids 17 and under play free when accompanied by a paying adult, and resort guests may book tee times in advance. Public tee times are available 24 hours in advance. Tee times can be made by calling 1-800-ITS-GOLF.

Bordering The Cradle will be Pinehurst’s expanded putting course Thistle Dhu, which surrounds the Putter Boy statue. At 75,000 square feet, the new Thistle Dhu is four times larger than the original putting course built in 2012, with rolling hills and sweeping valleys sure to delight golfers of all kinds. Thistle Dhu, which will open in early October, will be free to play.


The Cradle logo features the Golf Lad, an iconic figure featured in original advertising for the resort and most recently used in the logo for the U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateur Championships at Pinehurst. In the Cradle logo, the Lad is shown resting comfortably in the nook of the letter “C”.

“Like the Putter Boy, who now overlooks play on The Cradle, the Golf Lad has been a lasting symbol of the genuine joy and passion for golf at Pinehurst since the game arrived,” says Pinehurst President Tom Pashley. “We hope golfers will share those same feelings on a short course designed to be fun and challenging while at the same time inspiring others to take up the game we all love.”

The opening of The Cradle and expansion of Thistle Dhu are two elements of a multiyear plan Pinehurst unveiled in November 2016. Following the successful opening of the Deuce, a new tavern overlooking the 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst announced it hired Hanse to build the short course and begin a redesign of Pinehurst No. 4. Hanse will break ground on the No. 4 redesign in October.

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Molly McKenzie’s Moment

Molly McKenzie came to Pinehurst clutching Chef Katie Button’s cookbook. She left with so much more


Photos by John Gessner

MOLLY MCKENZIE IS in her element.

There are four forks at the place setting, and should someone feel overwhelmed by the proper time to use which utensil, McKenzie could probably set them at ease.

She peruses the menu in front of her. It’s eclectic, and the Sunburst Trout, thinly sliced but served raw, precedes the grilled squid dish of the second course. Before McKenzie can get to the dark chocolate custard with orange sorbet, she’ll dine on the rabbit braised with pimenton, garlic and white wine served as the main course. If her brow furrows or the corners of her mouth crease to betray any false sense of confidence, it is not noticeable. She knows to keep an open mind.

McKenzie is so comfortable in the fine dining ambiance of The Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst the server pours her a glass of wine as she settles into her chair. The wine, a Finca Montepedroso Verdejo from 2014, is described as “velvety with excellent volume, structure, and acidity, ending in a long and spirited finish.”

Molly is 11 years old.


THE TABLE OF 10, including Molly’s mother Fiona McKenzie, shares a good laugh at the moment. Consider the ice well broken. Quickly, the wine is removed from Molly’s setting and another glass is placed on the table. It too is a wine glass, but this time, it’s filled with orange juice.

Molly is a quiet little girl of 11, although she’ll tell you she’s almost 12. Her chestnut-colored hair is cropped at the shoulders, and on this night, the light makeup doesn’t quite hide the freckles underneath. She’s soft-spoken and she breaks into an effervescent smile when nervous, but she knows what she’s talking about. Her vocabulary, especially in this arena, can match those who are speaking at the front of the room.

That includes Chef Katie Button. The owner and executive chef of Asheville hot spots Curate and Nightbell, Button is the featured chef at Pinehurst’s Chef & Maker weekend event. The Saturday night Chef Dinner is the highlight of the weekend, and Button is the main attraction. The 110 people in the room are here to experience Button’s considerable talent, which is fully on display on the dishes placed in front of them.

Molly is among the most interested. She’s been to Curate. She’s reading Button’s cookbook. And she’s been cooking since she was 2.

“I want to be a chef,” Molly says.


KATIE BUTTON HAD NO SUCH CLARITY at 11. Growing up in New Jersey, Button was a serious student. She studied at Cornell and went on to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering before entering a PhD program.

But while her mind might have been focused on neuroscience, Button finally discovered her heart was in the kitchen, not the lab.

“I basically had no idea what I wanted to do,” Button says. “When you graduate from college (with a) chemical engineering degree, and you don’t know why you got that degree in the first place, and you’re totally lost and confused, what do you do? You just keep studying, because you can’t get a job and you interview terribly. So that’s what I did. I just kept studying. But I was cooking the entire time.”

A prestigious internship at Spain’s famous El Bulli eventually followed, and both Curate and Nightbell have garnered national attention, leading Button to a James Beard Award nomination, being named as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2015 and television appearances.

Fiona McKenzie’s own culinary path has taken her from her native Australia, though Europe, across the United States and eventually to nearby Sandhills Community College, where she is an associate professor and department head of the school’s Culinary and Pastry Arts program.

Whenever the family travels, Fiona wants to experience the culture of the place. For the McKenzies, that includes food. A weekend trip to Asheville a year ago led them to try Curate, and Molly was hooked.

“Curate was super good,” Molly says. “I especially liked the croquettes.”


THE ORGANIZED CHAOS OF A KITCHEN tasked with serving four courses to 110 people is perhaps best left behind the kitchen’s Out door. While guests dine and the room’s volume crescendos with each wine tasting, Button and the Pinehurst culinary staff keep things moving.

Button takes a break from behind closed doors to emerge into The Carolina’s Grand Ballroom and introduce each course, but these are to be the extent of her appearances for the evening. Not that they are wasted appearances. Button speaks in paragraphs, and her allusion to the fresh trout as “happy fish” draws hearty laughs from an audience that feels no divide from the acclaimed chef in its presence.

The dessert course – formally named Crujiente de Chocolate y Kikos – signals the coming end of the evening. Waiting for her plate, Molly leafs through Button’s cookbook, Curate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen. There’s a blur of commotion at the chef’s door, and again Button appears. Whizzing to the right and between two tables, Button makes a beeline for Molly’s chair.

The little girl’s cheeks blush red, but the smile breaks wide. She beams. She glows. She moves to the edge of her chair. Her eyes sparkle even in the dimly lit ballroom. There’s a reason why.

“I almost started crying,” Molly says. “My mom and I had a little geek-out moment.”

“Molly looked a little nervous when I came out, but I think I was more nervous than she was,” Button says. “You have this wonderful little girl who has these huge expectations, and you want to make sure you don’t dash those expectations.”

Molly McKenzie, Chef Katie Button and Molly’s mom, Fiona.

Button tells Molly she’s glad the little girl is there, that it’s cool she’s there and especially great that her mom brought her to the dinner. Button wishes she could see that happen more often, that parents would bring their children to these kinds of events instead of opting for the babysitter.

“I don’t know why she would be nervous,” Molly says. “I’m just a little girl.”


Button asks Molly about the menu.

“Molly was obviously clearly into food, and the food I served that night wasn’t exactly easy dishes for a kid,” Button says. “It was pretty adventurous – we had raw trout, we had a squid dish, rabbit – but it was inspiring to see how much she was able to enjoy it.”

“The squid was my favorite, my absolute favorite,” Molly says. “Mom says to always keep an open mind.”

Button crouches down to get to Molly’s level in the chair. The two talk. They pose for pictures. Button looks through the book with Molly and signs it. The wine glass is refilled with OJ.

“To see that come from a little girl who still has her entire life ahead of her, who still has so much time to figure what she wants to do and what kinds of person she wants to be – feeling like I’m a positive influence for her and for her mother to feel that I’m a positive influence for her, that’s the absolute best compliment I could ever get.” -Chef Katie Button

“(Chef Button) was just delightful,” Fiona says. “She didn’t have to come out. But she was so charming, and it was so kind and gracious of her to make a personal connection with Molly. It was a human touch that Molly will never forget.”

“Lots of times I’ll do events, and the food is great and you have all kinds of adults come up and tell you how wonderful it was and give these wonderful compliments and say these flattering things,” Button says. “And that means so much to me; I love making people happy through food.

“But to see that come from a little girl who still has her entire life ahead of her, who still has so much time to figure what she wants to do and what kind of person she wants to be – feeling like I’m a positive influence for her and for her mother to feel that I’m a positive influence for her, that’s the absolute best compliment I could ever get.”

Rather than the inside of the cover, Button finds a page deeper into the cookbook to sign for Molly. It feels more personal. And the chef who speaks so eloquently about food and the relationships it can create and inspire boils her career, her philosophy, her perspective  – all of which this singular moment could serve as the perfect metaphor – down to a simple three-word inscription:

“Cook your passion.”


MOLLY TAKES THE BOOK TO SCHOOL at New Century Middle the next day. Every chance she gets, she looks through it again as the whims of other 6th-graders whirl around her. She’s devouring it, but holding it carefully in her hands. No doubt, every once in a while, perhaps to make sure it’s still there, she turns to the page Button signed.

“Cook your passion.”

“I’m thinking about what I’m going to make first,” Molly says.

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Games and different ways to play The Cradle

We had a little fun on Facebook and Twitter last night, and posed a simple question about The Cradle:

And boy, did the responses come flying in. Seems y’all have some pretty creative ideas for The Cradle, which opens on Sept. 30. Here are a few we enjoyed sharing, and if you have more ideas, please feel free to let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

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Pinehurst No. 2 ranked again among the very best courses in the world

Golf Magazine revealed its biennial rankings of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World on Wednesday, and for the 2017-18 rankings season, Donald Ross’ famed Pineuhrst No. 2 comes in as the 18th best golf course in the world.

As always, we at Pinehurst are proud to be included among such incredible venues, and we look forward to the next era in golf course design here at the cradle of American golf.

UPDATE: released its rankings for its Top 100 Courses in the United States for 2017-18 on Thursday, and again Pinehurst No. 2 found its way high on the list, making the top 10.


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This golf swing might break the Pinehurst Golf Academy

If somehow you haven’t yet seen the viral golf swing pro Steve Wheatcroft tweeted from his pro-am round this week, then take a moment and admire.

We’ll admit, we’re a bit worried about what this might do once the Pinehurst Golf Academy’s Eric Alpenfels and his team get a look at it because truly, it may blow their minds. (Then again, one of them has been known to do this AND this, so maybe not.)

Anyway, once we hear from them, we’ll let you know if they survived with their expertise intact.

After all, the result is really good.

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