One of the most evocative golf courses in golf - the Blue Monster. It's one of those courses which if you're in the area you just feel you should really play. Why would you play the Gold or the White when you can play the 'Blue'? A friend and I left our wives at South Beach and made the short drive to the Blue Monster looking forward to a game at a course we had watched many times on late night TV broadcasts from Scotland. Craig Parry's holed approach to 18, Tiger's dominance over the years - all memories to relive.
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!
Date: February 16, 2010