The Blue Monster

Blue Monster 18th hole still a daunting challenge

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Attacking the monster:</span> Patrick Reed, left, and Dustin Johnson prepare to take on 18th hole at Doral, infamously called the Blue Monster because of its difficulty and many hazards.
Attacking the monster: Patrick Reed, left, and Dustin Johnson prepare to take on 18th hole at Doral, infamously called the Blue Monster because of its difficulty and many hazards.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff
WEB VOTE Who will win the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral on Sunday?

It’s a completely different golf course. Most of the holes are foreign to the players who are trying to navigate them.

Yet, there is still one thing that remains nearly the same for those that have walked the Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral before — the actual Blue Monster. The namesake for the course is the iconic 18th hole which forces players to find a narrow strip of fairway in order to properly attack the pin.

Staring down the 471-yard par-4 is daunting, as you try to avoid the water that slowly expands from a stream near the tee into a massive pond to the left of the fairway. It is about 290 yards to carry the water and safely reach the fairway, but many players have elected not to press their luck.

“Eighteen is definitely playing better,” Justin Rose said. “You have to still commit to the tee shot, the tee shot is very intimidating.”

In the seven years since the WGC-Cadillac Championship was moved to Doral, the 18th hole has been the toughest by a wide margin. There have been only 154 birdies on the hole in those seven years and players have scored nearly five times as many bogeys or worse in that period.

When Rose won the 2012 title at the old Blue Monster, the 18th played more than a half-stroke over par, the second-toughest it’s been since the tournament moved to Doral. This year, the 18th has fallen victim to the tough conditions on Thursday and Friday, which drove scoring up and pushed the 18th to only the fifth-toughest hole on the course this week.

There were just a couple of minor alterations made to the hole during the redesign process, but none the average fan would be able to detect. The fairway was raised and the green was shifted closer to the water and restructured, taking away a large bowl on the left side. However, the biggest change may be the trees that now line the right side because that forces players to be more accurate off the tee.

Bill Haas said on the previous course a player could leave the ball right of the fairway and still have a good shot at earning a birdie putt. The new trees on the right add a stiffer penalty, one Haas had to pay Saturday when his tee shot landed close to the trees and he had to settle for bogey.

“It basically comes down to one swing,” Haas said. “If you hit a bad [tee shot], you’re probably going to make five or six. If you hit a good one you’ll maybe have a birdie chance.”

If the player is able to squeeze his attempt between the trees and water, he’ll be faced with a green that has far less contours than before. Rose said the removal of the bowl on the left side rewards more good shots and even though there are penalizing bunkers on the other side, he was confident the hole would reward those who make the right play and punish those who don’t.

The historic difficulty of the closing hole was the biggest reason Gil Hanse did not do much to alter the hole when he redesigned the course last year. It ranked as the third-hardest finishing hole on the PGA Tour, excluding majors in 2013, and that’s a challenge neither Donald Trump nor Hanse wanted to remove.

“We felt like there was a lot of quality here, let’s just leave it alone,” Hanse said Wednesday. “It’s provided year-in-and-year-out a dramatic finish for the golf course so we really didn’t think it needed any changing.”

Read more Golf stories from the Miami Herald

  • This Week in Golf -- September 18-21

    Of those four, Westwood was the only one on the 2010 European Ryder Cup team, when they regained the cup by beating the United States at Celtic Manor.

  • Wentworth Golf Club sold to Chinese investors

    Wentworth Golf Club, one of Britain's most famous courses and the headquarters of the European Tour, has been sold to Chinese firm Reignwood Investments for 135 million pounds ($220 million).

  • Ellen Port advances in US Senior Women's Amateur

    Two-time defending champion Ellen Port advanced to the second round of the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur on Monday at Hollywood Golf Club, beating Kimberly Briele 6 and 4.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category