The new golfer in town was in all his glory.
That would be Donald Trump, who on Thursday officially unveiled his newest business venture, which also happens to be one of his favorite places to be, the Blue Monster golf course at Trump National Doral.
There were television cameras. There were photographers. There were political and golfing dignitaries. Everything that Trump likes. And to make it better, amid all this, Trump got to play golf. He didn’t even have to pay. Makes sense, since he’s the owner.
Trump has played the revamped Blue Monster before, but this time he was giving insight to the changes that have been made.
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He is extremely happy with the re-do on the Blue, and expressed his feelings about that. But, before doing that, he went back in time to recall one of his first visits to the course.
“Many years ago, I would come to Doral with my father, Fred Trump, and we would play golf,” Trump said. “Who would have ever thought that the Trump family would own this 800-acre parcel of land? He was referring to his purchase of the Doral Resort & Spa, which includes numerous buildings and ownership of four golf courses, all in the heart of Miami. The price for Trump: some $150 million, making it a bargain basement purchase.
The soul of the Doral complex, however, is the Blue Monster.
And Trump is well aware of that. Everything multibillionaire Trump owns is branded — usually, with his name. And, as a smart businessman, he knows the Doral complex also has one unique brand name, and that would be the Blue Monster So, it is that golf course where he has concentrated much of his energy.
“When we bought it, we decided to do it right,” Trump said of the entire Doral project. “We just stood out there and looked at the land and decided we were going to do the whole thing right.
“We’re trying to do something good for golf,” Trump said of the Blue Monster. “We could have just put up a couple of palm trees and it would have been acceptable, but it would not be the right thing to do. Do we just fix it up for $2, or do we do it really right?
“When it is completed, which will be very quickly, this will be the greatest golf resort in the world.”
Helping him reach that goal is Gil Hanse, who is one of the greatest golf course architects in the world.
“Mr. Trump provided the opportunity to do something spectacular,” Hanse said. “Now we have a brand-new course in beautiful condition. He kept telling me along the way it has to be bigger and better.”
Hanse said he paid particular attention to the fans, to give them a better view. He has built mounding to provide sight lines. “We’ve worked outside the ropes rather than inside the ropes,” Hanse said.
Other key changes include much more water, with shots on extremely hard greens sliding off and quickly creating ripples.
The course appears to be slightly tougher than the old Blue Monster. Holes 8, 9 and 10 have changed dramatically, becoming considerably more difficult. Hole No. 1, previously considered almost a sure birdie for the pros, also has been lengthened to toughen it up.
Hole No. 15, a par-3, now has a peninsular green and errant shots will be getting a bath.
Hole No. 18, a 473-yard, par-4, long considered the Blue Monster’s signature hole, has not been changed much at all, except for the drop-off into the water on the left being a little steeper.
However, don’t expect scores to automatically go soaring. The wind has always been the biggest factor in playing the Blue Monster.
The new-look course is in excellent condition heading into one of the world’s premiere tournaments, the WGC-Cadillac Championship on March 6-9. However, construction on some of the resort’s buildings is still ongoing, and it appears nip-and-tuck whether that will be completed in the next few weeks before the tournament.
Trump didn’t seem to be worried. “We’re plus-10 in building, that’s what we do,” he said.
When they arrive for the Cadillac Championship, the world’s best professional golfers will definitely be more concerned with the course rather than the buildings.
Trump, who flew in and flew out on his helicopter parked near the ninth fairway Thursday, summed up by giving his opinion of the Blue Monster:
“It’s just a beautiful golf course,” he said.