EDITOR’S NOTE: Ella Hannant held the record for youngest to have an ace on The Cradle until Oct. 9, 2019, when there was a new record set.
ELLA JUNE HANNANT DIDN’T NEED to be told to check the hole.
Already an accomplished golfer at the tender age of 8 – she has the trophies and medals to prove it – Hannant does admit to having two thoughts when she couldn’t find her ball Sunday on the punch bowl green of the third hole of Pinehurst’s short course, The Cradle.
“Well, the greens were really fast, so I thought maybe it was in the hole or that it might’ve rolled back off the green,” Hannant recalls. “After all, they are Pinehurst greens.”
Most telling is that Hannant, of Pikeville, North Carolina, thought to check the hole first. And even though she was playing with her dad, Steve, and younger sister, Zada, Hannant put the pieces together on her own.
“I looked in the hole, and my ball was there,” she said. “I just walked up and looked for it.”
And so, with a sand wedge from 56 yards, Ella Hannant, at 8 years old, became the youngest player to make an ace on The Cradle. It is her first hole-in-one, and the 18th on The Cradle, which opened in late September.
“I’ve been wanting one since I was about 2,” Hannant says.
She has the game to have backed up that goal. Hannant is one of the top-ranked junior golfers, and she recently won her age division at the Drive, Chip and Putt Regional at Pinehurst. The week before the Masters, Hannant will compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National.
She’s won countless other tournaments – she’s been competing since she was 5 – and it was one of those tournaments that led her to The Cradle on Sunday. After winning a U.S. Kids Golf tournament on Saturday at Pinehurst No. 8, Hannant’s tournament on Sunday in Raleigh was canceled. Her dad gave her the option: play one of the courses she will have future tournaments on, or take a shot at The Cradle, Pinehurst’s 789-yard short course.
Hannant chose The Cradle – kids 17 and under play The Cradle free with a paying adult – with the goal of shooting par.
And she did – an even-par 27.
“Ella keeps a goal book,” says her mother, Regan, “and that was her goal – to shoot par. Of course, we didn’t think that would include a hole-in-one.”
Ella used a total of five clubs in her round on the course, which features holes that range in yardage from 56 yards to 127 yards. She used her putter, 5 iron, 7 iron, 8 iron – and that fateful sand wedge.
“The Cradle is fun,” Ella says. “I think it would be really fun for kids to play a quick nine holes.”