What began as a facelift of the Trump National Doral Miami resort has become a full-blown redesign of the clubhouse and famed Blue Monster golf course.
New owner Donald Trump never does anything halfway. He has invested hundreds of millions in purchasing and refurbishing the Doral facility, which will play host to the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship professional golf tournament from March 6-9 on the Blue Monster course.
“For Mr. Trump, it’s his vision to turn this property and tournament into a world-class destination,” said Darren Helfrick, the general manager of golf at Doral who is overseeing the work on the golf courses.
Helfrick, Eddie Carbone of the PGA Tour and tournament director Butch Buchholz gave a sneak preview of the transformation of the Doral resort on Thursday. The changes to the clubhouse and the course are significant.
Basically, the clubhouse has been gutted down to the steel. There is going to be a new pro shop, expanded from 4,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. New locker rooms are being constructed for the PGA Tour professionals.
One of the most significant new features for fans attending the tournament is a 8,000-foot terrace that overlooks the property. The terrace faces the putting green, No. 1 tee and 18th hole green. It gives an expansive view that wasn’t available from the old clubhouse.
The interior ballrooms and restaurants also are being completely redesigned.
The management group promises that the renovations of the clubhouse will be completed in time for the tournament. Some of the other major changes, such as rooms and lodges, might not be finished by March, but that shouldn’t affect the fan experience on the property.
The golf course
Rest easy, golf fans, Trump didn’t mess with No. 18, the infamous finishing hole that gives touring pros headaches when the wind is blowing in their faces with the title on the line late on Sunday afternoon.
But that’s about the only hole that hasn’t either been redesigned or completely changed. Only four holes didn’t receive some kind of makeover.
A few statistics on the course that was redesigned by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner (under the watchful eyes of Trump, who has visited the property he purchased for $150 million 12 times since April):
• The course, which should be open for play in December, has been expanded from the 7,334 yards it played in 2013 to 7,450 yards in 2014.
• All new grass has been planted on the tee boxes, fairways and greens, and the greens have been enlarged by an average of 30 percent.
• More than 5,000 new trees have been planted throughout the property.
• Helfrick said water only came in play on six holes for professionals on the old Dick Wilson design. Water now comes into play on 14 holes.
• The practice facility has been expanded nearly three times and will have LED lighting.
Some of the more significant changes to the holes include:
• No. 1: The par 5, which used to be driver and mid-iron for the pros and was an eagle hole, is no longer a pushover. The hole has been lengthened to nearly 600 yards, the green has been reshaped and a pond now sits to the right of the putting surface.
• No. 15: The par 3 is now a carry over water at about 170 yards to a peninsular green.
• No. 16: The par 4 is now a risk-reward 325-yard hole with water all the way down the left side but is reachable. “The pros used to just blast away on the old 16th, but now they will have to carry the ball all the way to the green,” Helfrick said.
• Nos. 8 and 9: These two holes have undergone complete redesigns from the tee box to the greens. The green on the par-5 eighth was moved to the left, and the par-3 ninth is now a carry completely over water and has been stretched out to 195 yards.
And the fan experience should be enhanced by the way the designers have put mounding around some of the green complexes. One example is an area between the green on No. 2 and the green on No. 16. Fans will be able to watch the action and enjoy cocktails at a planned “nightclub experience,” according to Carbone.
It remains to be seen how the pros will react to the new design, but one thing is for certain: The Blue Monster has gained some significant teeth.
And, in case you were wondering, the green fee will be $450, and you’ll have to use a caddie if you want to check out the changes.