Much anticipated changes bring new life to the Blue Monster Course
Just a few months ago Donald Trump promised to bring back our beloved Blue Monster Course to the pinnacle of best golf courses in the world it once belonged. Years had gone by and advances in golf technology had taken the teeth our of the monster. Double digit under par scores during the Cadillac Championship were becoming the standard and not the oddity and something radical was needed in order to bring the monster back.
Lucky Friday December 13th, 2013 was my first chance to witness history as I was invited to play at the Miami Golf Open, a 2-day extravaganza that included a VIP Party on Thursday evening and a scramble format tournament Friday morning at the newly redesigned Blue Monster Course.
The Big Changes
Donald Trump is a man that thinks big and the first thing you will notice next to the tee on hole #1 is a massive water fountain that gives the golf course certain European flair. I have listed all major changes in (red)
- Hole #1 was a short and reachable (with a mid iron) par-5 for PGA Tour players. The cart path now runs on the left hand side, the hole was lengthened by at least 80 yards and a new lake was created next to the new green bringing a water hazard in play. Any balls landing near the right edge of the green will roll into the hazard. PGA Tour players will now have to think about going for 2 on this magnificent starting hole.
- Hole #2 Hanse adjusted this short par-4 by adding a small pond at the end of the fairway (left) and moving the new and elevated green to the right. 3-wood down the middle and then a wedge to the center of the green and you should be ok.
- Hole #3 I’m glad this hole was kept essentially in the same shape it used to be, the contours and green complexes were changed. The green looks now like a roller coaster!! Fun!!
- Hole #4 Another great hole that was kept “almost” the same. The green appears to be a bit smaller than before and all coral was removed from the green. Any errant shots to the right of the green will end up in the hazard.
- Hole #5 The fairway looks wider and elevated in the middle next to the left bunker, the green complexes were changed but essentially looks the same.
- Hole #6 Another great hole that was kept essentially the same. The fairway now is narrower at the mid-point and is going to take a great shot to split the two bunkers. This was and still is a great hole!!
- Hole #7 The lake that used to be to the right of the fairway (and out of reach) has been brought to the right edge of the fairway and any shots right will land in the hazard, new green complexes were added and the large tree that was next to the green is now gone.
- Hole #8 This has to be the hole with the most improvements throughout the golf course. Tee boxes were added, new contours to the fairway were added and the new green sits to the left hand side of the fairway next to a new heliport (old tee #9)
- Hole #9 A new set of tee boxes are now located where the old Hole#8 green used to be creating one of the most dramatic tee shots you will ever encounter. The hole now plays 220+ yards against the wind! wow!!
- Hole #10 Another welcome change was the expansion of the driving range pushing the tees of this hole further west and north (part of the lake was covered to accommodate the new tee boxes). The green was pushed inland another 100 yards making this the longest hole in the course at 620+ yards. wow!!
- Hole #11 New tee boxes were added but the hole was essentially kept the same way, split fairway and a large bunker in the middle…
- Hole #12 The former longest hole standing at 603 yards was also kept the same way, and why mess with it. This hole has years of tradition and it would not make any sense making any changes to it.
- Hole #13 The famous par-3 standing at 225 yards was also kept the same way, green complexes were modified and any errant shots to the left or short will now roll out of the green.
- Hole #14 New bunkers were added making it difficult now to carry the left bunker.
- Hole #15 My least favorite hole in the entire golf course was finally modified and now is a thing of beauty. There is a new lake behind the green of hole #14 that extends around the new green of #15 all the way to the green of #16. The new green sits right on the edge of the lake so any balls short or left of the pin will end up in the hazard… the plot thickens!
- Hole #16 Was also modified because of the new lake and now going for the green has a new meaning… Any balls left or short will end up in the water, also a false front was added to the green in case you do reach it but you are short your ball will roll back to the water… clever and a much needed change to this hole.
- Hole #17 Was essentially kept the same way, green complexes were modified but overall the hole is almost identical.
- Hole #18 It would not make any sense to modify the strongest and toughest hole in modern golf history… but Hanse did adjust it a bit by removing the coral rocks around the green and some additional tweaking by adding 20 palm trees to the right were players used to bail out. The toughest hole just got tougher…
When the PGA Tour arrives in March for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, the players will find a longer, more challenging layout that is true to the original design and the fans will find better viewing and better access to the players and holes they want to see. Critical changes made to holes #1, #2, #8, #9, #10, #15 and #16 will definitely put some teeth back to the good old Monster. Additional changes not mentioned were a new irrigation system throughout the golf course and the much needed “stadium” like hills added to some holes to aide the viewing during tournament play.
For years the Blue Monster Course at Doral was always ranked inside the top 100 golf courses in the world but as of recent years it just faded away from that ranking. With the changes, modifications and overall improvements I would not be surprised if the new Monster lands a top 10 world ranking as a true testament of a magnificent golf course brought back to life…