4400 NW 87th Avenue,
- +1 (800) 936 7259
8 miles NW of Miami International Airport
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Dick Wilson, Ray Floyd, Jerry Pate, Robert von Hagge, Bruce Devlin, Gil Hanse
Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Trump National Doral
Doris and Alfred Kaskel founded the Doral resort in 1959 when they transformed a large area of West Miami swampland into a Hotel and Country Club where they first welcomed golfers onto the property three years later.
Dick Wilson, a former construction superintendent at Shinnecock Hills, was the man who designed the Blue course at Doral and it has been upgraded over the years by a number of golfing greats such as Robert von Hagge, Bruce Devlin, Raymond Floyd and the renowned instructor, Jim McLean.
On its USPGA Tour debut in 1962, the severity of the challenge it presented attracted it the name of “Blue Monster” and that moniker has stuck down the years. One of the most respected courses on the professional circuit, the Blue is long, tough and heavily-bunkered, with water visible or in play on every hole.
If ever one hole encapsulated the spirit of a course then it’s the 18th on the Blue. Often played into a wind, there is water all the way down the left hand side from tee to green, with a beach bunker and palm trees more recent additions on that side of the fairway.
Seven bunkers line the other side, set beside deep rough and more palm trees so shying too far away from the lake brings these hazards into play. The long, narrow green angles to the left, sloping away from the clubhouse towards the water – a par finish here will be one of the best fours you will ever mark on a scorecard.
In 2012, Donald Trump successfully bought Doral for $150 million after the facility fell into bankruptcy. Trump then proceeded to invest a further $200 million to renovate the property. Gil Hanse was drafted in to remodel the legendary Blue Monster course and the Trump family officially reopened it in February 2014.
Naturally the new 7,608-yard Blue Monster, now equipped with enlarged lakes, new bunkers, tees and greens is “bigger and better than ever before”. According to Donald Trump, “Trump National Doral will soon become, upon completion of the Red Tiger and Golden Palm golf courses, the greatest golf resort in the United States, with the brand new and truly amazing Blue Monster – there will be nothing like it,”
Architect, Gil Hanse stated: “This is one of the most exciting projects that I have ever had the privilege to work on. The property itself, being all sand based, is very unusual and unique – and a tremendous asset for a golf course. On top of it all, its location, in the middle of Miami, is unprecedented.”
All eyes were focused on the “bigger and better” Blue Monster in March 2014 when Tiger Woods defended the World Golf Championships title. Only three players bettered the Monster’s par and it was Patrick Reed who came out on top, beating Jamie Donaldson and Bubba Watson by a single shot. With only a four Tour outings under his belt since his six-month “leave of absence”, Dustin Johnson returned to centre stage, winning the 2015 WGC - Cadillac Championship title by one shot from compatriot JB Holmes. Adam Scott won the 2016 event in Florida before the tournament was re-branded and relocated to Chapultepec in Mexico City in 2017.
The thing you forget when you play most of your golf in Europe is that so many of the top courses are part of leisure complexes. It is hard to forget at Doral that you are on a Marriott hotel estate. The sales conferences, the all you can eat breakfasts, the tickets to the local adventure park - they're all there and it's a long way from North Berwick!
There had been a lot of rain the previous night and carts were to stay on paths which in my experience leads to frustration and adds a lot of time to a round so we decided to take a caddy each and walk it. Now, I should say up front that I am not the world's biggest fan of caddies. They can be distracting and often seem to think we have paid hundreds of dollars to listen to them. Today didn't really help me on that journey! We paid for a caddy each and then turned up on the first tee to find just one guy who was going to service us both. Now, I'm not a penny pincher but we had paid for a caddy each not just one between us. Oh yes, I slice and Greig hooks. Great. It was obviously going to be a desperately slow round on the first. It took us half an hour to play the hole - at one stage there were 4 groups on it. The cart rule was slowing things down tremendously and everyone was there to smell the roses!
Anyway, the course itself was just fine. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't the most spectacular course in the world - much of that comes from the aerial shots on TV and the angles over the water that you simply don't get when you're playing. The condition was pretty good (wet fairways excused!) and greens were in good nick. In fairness to the caddy he really read the greens pretty well and helped is in getting a line on the bermuda grass. The course is pretty playable, fairways were very receptive and not too tight and the water, while plentiful, was fairly placed. We didn't play off the back tees but it was long enough and holes like 3, 4, 12, 13, 14 all ask tough questions. The 18th is the signature hole and you do need to melt a drive to have a reasonable chance of reaching and holding the green. I didn't - it was a four iron which took a watery dive some 20 feet short of the green!
All in all I'm glad I played it but can't imagine rushing back. The course is definitely worth seeing, it is a typical Florida resort course with a big reputation. Just don't expect too much. The experience was soured by our caddy handing us a piece of paper walking up the last which had 'recommended' tips on. It did nothing to dampen our irritation at the shared caddy issue. When we went to make our feelings known at 18 we were given short shrift. Thanks!