The Monster has been slain, not able to fight back against the machinery of change, which includes a plethora of bulldozers.
The infamous Blue Monster golf course at Doral, a landmark of the Miami sports scene for more than 60 years, is in shambles right now — torn up, beaten up and dug up. At the beginning of last week, bulldozers gouged into its ground and, to the people who knew the course well, into its soul.
The course succumbed to no longer being a monster, but simply being a venue that wasn’t nearly the challenge it once was to professional golfers. It also succumbed to Donald Trump, a golf-loving billionaire who plans to turn the course back into one of the toughest tests for the world’s top golfers this coming season.
The course is not going away, just going to be better and much more difficult, by all accounts.
As Trump, never at a loss for words, famously put it, “We’re going to blow it up.”
At one time, the course was one of the most feared on the PGA Tour, but that was before pros, now armed with new technology and better equipment, were hitting 350-yard drives.
The once-upon-a-time growls of the Blue Monster over the years turned into whimpers, and that was unacceptable to Trump, who last year bought that course, three other courses on the property, and the entire Doral Golf Resort & Spa complex (presumably soon to have the Trump name worked into the name) for just in excess of $150 million.
On Monday, bulldozers started digging their teeth into the ground, with the goal being to start putting some teeth back into The Monster.
Three weeks earlier, at the end of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, much of the course — greens, fairways and rough — had long since turned brown and dry. And, if it’s any consolation to you home-owning amateur landscapers, yes, they used Roundup to burn away the grass and turn it dead and crunchy.
Green quickly turned into brown at Doral, and some trees quickly became stumps. The revamping, remodeling and rebuilding had begun.
Darrin Helfrick, 45, is the general manager of golf at Doral and a former player for Penn State.
Helfrick, who talks to Trump frequently as the project progresses, has played nine holes with Trump, and said, “He wants to make it the greatest golf resort in the world. With him and the quality he brings, I think we have a good chance.”
Chris Jensen, 49, of the Redland Company, is supervising the initial clearing, cutting and set-up for the makeover. As he called it, “The heavy earth work.”
He’s working on only his third golf course, but he’s no stranger to the process. “I’ve been moving dirt and trees for 33 years,” he said. “It’s like working in a big sand box.”
Looking over at all his transformer-like bulldozers and excavation equipment, Jensen added, “When Mr. Trump comes out here, he’ll see all these Tonka Toys moving stuff around.”
Jensen did turn serious to say, “This looks like destruction right now, but it’s really construction.”
And, if all goes well, it will be a resurrection.
Asked if he is ever afraid that Trump might chase him down and say those famous words, “You’re fired,” to him, Jensen said with a smile, “No, not at all. Matter of fact, I think I’ll be the next apprentice.”
Bulldozer driver Carlos Rivera, 62, knows his task is special.
“I know it’s famous,” he said of the course, “but you have to make it better. That’s what we’re doing.”
billion — give or take a few hundred millions — is never one to lack an opinion, and he is transforming the course to what he envisions is a better future.
But will the fans agree that it’s being made better? There’s a lot of sentiment attached to The Blue Monster, similar to, if not nearly as widespread, as there was for the Orange Bowl before it was turned into rubble to make way for Marlins Park.
“We’ve been coming out to the tournament [the WGC-Cadillac] for many years,” said one fan in the gallery at this year’s event .“It’s sad what is going to happen, but we’re hoping it will be better. We will be back next year.”
Some of the major changes anticipated, but not finalized, in The Monster’s makeover:
• Making the short par-5 first hole, considered to be too easy, some 100 yards longer and adding a lake to the right of the green.
• Turning the par-3 15th hole into a peninsula green.
• Creating mounds throughout the course to give fans a better view.
• Changing the ninth hole so a structural fan amphitheater can be built.
• Making greens larger, enabling the pin placements to become more difficult.
The biggest non-change will be leaving No. 18, the course’s signature hole, basically untouched.
Although The Blue Monster will be shut down for at least six months, Doral will continue regular play on its three other courses — the Red, Gold and McLean.
“Just because the Blue is closed, we don’t want the general public to think they can’t come out here and play golf,” said Cari Farinas, the resort’s marketing director. “We don’t want people getting the wrong idea.
“Any golfer can come out here and play,” Farinas added. “We’re open to the public, and we want the public to come out.”
Will The Blue Monster be ready for the next WGC-Cadillac Championship in March 2014?
Trump, not a patient fellow, gave a quick and definitive answer to that question.
“It will get done,” Trump said, making his words sound more like a demand than a statement.
Then Trump added, “It better get done.”
That definitely was a demand.