DAN PHILLIPS IS BACK in the teaching mode, you can find him all winter long at MCQ’s Dome in Bolingbrook, see for details. The Callaway Rogue Driver is out, Jailbreak technology has the Epic Driver to a new level.  ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content. Follow Rory to Pinehurst and on Twitter @GogBlogGuy on Linkedin and Facebook. On the Cradle, Par 3 golf by Gil Hanse.

OPENING DAY FOR GOLF SEASON, is always exciting. But I think it might be the first time I have ever played Round #1 on a Par 3 course.

The new Pinehurst Resort Par 3 course created by Gil Hanse is a winner. It’s just 789 yards of pure fun, and the early results are turning into just what the resort wanted, and what the game of golf needs.

After being closed for 3 1/2 days, great work by the Pinehurst grounds crew and some help from Mother Nature got most of the snow off the Cradle and allowed it to open yesterday afternoon. Within minutes golfers were out playing, and several of them were junior golfers with their parents. In some cases the golf bags were almost as big as the kids carrying them. The Cradle has been an instant success, and golfers, about 40 of them according to resort staff already have made hole-in-ones, including and 8 year old girl being one of the first. She is receiving a Cradle Pin Flag autographed by Gil Hanse for her shot heard through-out the Sandhills.

One regret I have from my first round at the Cradle is that it did not include a par in spite of hitting 5 greens in regulation. Hitting borrowed wedges off of mats and a borrowed putter into some tricky pin placements, didn’t leave me many good looks. But at this point it was just nice to play, after looking at Pinehurst under snow, for 3 straight days.

It was neat to watch the kids play, and several of them were proudly enjoying a course that they felt was their course, and to a point it is. I credit Pinehurst for creating a course that costs only $50 dollars to play. Better yet, you can play it all day long for your $50, free replays (grow the game). The demand to play this short course has created the need for six-some’s at times, but that has not hurt pace of play. Most of the time golfers still play in just over an hour.

The Par 3, 7th hole on the Cradle at Pinehurst

My clubs were in the trunk, but starter Jack Bickart the resorts former Ex-VP of Sales (recently retired) was in the starter shack, and got me a Cradle carry bag, and had me pick a couple of Vokey wedges out of the wedge bag and a Scotty Cameron out of the putter bag and off I went. Most adult golfers will only need 3-4 clubs to play.

I played in 65 minutes and had a great time. There was some white stuff on the course in places, no not the new white tour sand making it’s way into courses, but real snow, the wet stuff that makes for good snowballs. But they don’t travel as far as a Pro-V1.

After golf, I enjoyed my first meal at the new Deuce restaurant in the main clubhouse behind the 18th green of Pinehurst #2. That is also a winner. I’ll have more on Pinehurst in the days ahead, where there is so much going on. You can also visit for more details.

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About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WCPT AM820 Chicago, he writes for both the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine, and formerly Chicagoland Golf. Rory has played over 525 courses in 39 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, within the golf industry.