The Blue Monster course at Doral is in pristine condition, ready for the best golfers in the world to tee off on Thursday.
Seems almost a shame to mess up such a great piece of beautifully manicured land with golfers taking divots and chunks of grass out of the fairways.
However, that will happen, and Trump National Doral golf general manager Darrin Helfrick will be glad to see it happen. Let the good times fly, along with those chunks of turf.
And, remember, caddies are very good about replacing divots.
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“We’re ready for the golfers,” Helfrick summed up succinctly of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
The course changes have been subtle since Dustin Johnson won the championship a year ago.
“We didn’t make many changes from last year,” Helfrick said.
“We worked with the PGA Tour off of players’ comments. The only thing the players said was that they felt it favored the longer hitters. So we worked directly with the [PGA] Tour and Gil Hanse [who rebuilt and redesigned the course after the 2013 event] and we went out and made some changes to the bunkering on about six holes.”
All changes, Helfrick said, were bunker related.
“We added new bunkers much farther down the fairway,” Helfrick said.
“Those few adjustments were made based on what players said, and then what Gil and the PGA Tour said would make a better layout.”
A year ago, there were two holes-in-one — by Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes — on the par-3 fourth hole only 24 minutes apart. That hole is a 200-yard shot over water, and Johnson and Holmes both used 7-irons to reach it.
“Two hundred yards over water — don’t think anyone will call that one too easy,” Helfrick said.
“Both shots were hit on the green and rolled to the pin,” Helfrick added. “Think it was completely coincidence.”
Helfrick is well-aware that the Blue Monster course is at center-stage during tournament week.
“This is the week,” he said. “We call the rest of the year ‘the other 51 weeks.’
“This is obviously a fun week, and we understand all the exposure during tournament week, but the other 51 weeks is where we can make money and be successful financially. We try to capitalize on tournament week to get more people out here to stay and play.”
The Blue Monster, South Florida’s most famous (infamous?) golf course, has been called too tough and too easy in the past five years. Since Donald Trump’s redesign after the 2013 tournament, the course has definitely become more difficult, as indicated by the winning scores: