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 will be focused on the “bigger and better” Blue Monster in March 2014 when Tiger Woods starts his defence at the World Golf Championships.
Doral Blue Monster, or should it just be called Blue? I didn't find it to be a monster at all, provided that you follow their recommendation and play from tees that are in adequation to your golf skills. But clearly, every body, whatever their level, can enjoy it. Played from their gold tees, total yardage 7356 yds, and I felt the most difficult holes were the par 3s 4th and 13th, each over 230 yds. The par 5 are not really an issue, yes they are quite long so you won't catch many greens in 2 shots, but a par is quite easily achievable. And then there is 18th, a great hole, long hole. The other par 4s exceeding 400 yds are really not unplayable at all. Just a matter of playing from the right tees! Condition was very good, very good looking greens, could have been faster for my taste. Favorite holes were 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 18th. Like other places in Florida, most of the holes look quite the same, flat with palm trees on the side. Here, the bunkering makes the difference, as well as the slightly elevated greens and their run offs. Enjoyed it a lot, despite the lack of ranger (or their lousy way to handle the situation when they finally showed up on 13th) on the course and the slow play consequently. Blue Monster it isn't unless played from the PGA tees (18th is almost 500 yds par 4!!), but very enjoyable it is... Cedric
I lived 30 miles from Doral for 9 years, but only played it once (though I walked it many times at the PGA tournament). Why? Well I was underwhelmed and found the cost-to-value ratio was poor. #18 is a great golf hole and we played it 3 times as nobody was behind us. But there are better choices in the area (e.g., Crandon Park on Key Biscayne).
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!
I played the Blue Monster last week and my expectations were very high after reading about the history of the course and the big events over the last 40 years. Arrived early on a Sunday morning and had a great breakfast in the Champions Pavilion, which was a real bonus. The resort is huge with five courses in total and the expected customer service is impeccable, this quality of care is very special. I enjoyed the course but to be honest was not blown away like I expected, even the famed 18th hole felt like an anti-climax – maybe because the spectator stands from the WGC event in March were gone and it just looked a little different from the TV. I expected that the course would be a nailed on 6-ball rating but I am afraid it only gets a 4 from me (and I played well, so it was not that). I imagined that the conditioning would be perfect but it was a little worn in places. There are still many plus points; the greens were like carpet, making putting a proper science rather than having to smash putts to the hole. The 11th hole was my pick; a short par 4 with options from the tee that determine how tricky your approach will be – always like one short par 4 on a course. I have played less than ten US courses so far and to have the Blue Monster under my belt feels good but I hoped for more.