Pages 26 - 35 - Summer 2014 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved


The “New” Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami

The layout of the newly redesigned Blue Monster golf course at Trump National Doral Miami.

        Donald J. Trump, along with esteemed Olympic course architect Gil Hanse and David Pillsbury, President of PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties, all three hit ceremonial first balls at the official opening ceremony of the world-famous Blue Monster golf course at Trump National Doral Miami, one of the newest additions to THE TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION™.
        Hanse and his business partner Jim Wagner spent a year working with Mr. Trump redesigning and rebuilding the championship course which is now open and receiving rave reviews. They also designed the new Red and Gold courses.

2/6/2014 - Olympic course architect Gil Hanse, Donald J. Trump and David Pillsbury, President of PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties, at the opening ceremony of the newly redesigned Blue Monster.

        The Blue Monster, which is known as an icon in the golf industry and a host to the PGA Tour for over 50 years, underwent a total transformation and features all new turf, greens, traps, fairways tees and even lakes that are bigger and better than ever before. In addition to creating a brand new updated course for players, many changes have been implemented to specifically benefit the fans.
        Over a million cubic yards of earth was moved in order to not only enhance the strategy and beauty of the course’s undulating topography, but also to enhance the views for spectators. So now, every year in March, the fans can easily watch the greatest players in the world at the World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship.
        The Trump Hotel Collection’s continued commitment to cater to all of their guests needs, players and spectators alike, is perfectly aligned with their dedication to provide personalized service on every level.
        “One of the major changes we implemented on the Blue Monster,” said Mr. Trump, “was raising various aspects of the course to make it a better experience for the fans. Before our redesign there would be 25,000 people following Tiger Woods up the fairways, hoping to see him sink a putt, and they couldn’t see a thing because the course was so flat. Improving the fan experience was just as much of a priority for us as anything we did, and I think the more course owners and Tour executives put fans first there will be a surge in ticket sales, merchandise sales, sponsorship dollars etc.”

Gil Hanse’s comments on redesigning The Blue Monster:
        When asked about the challenges involved in redesigning The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami, world renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse was quoted as saying, “I think anytime you’re dealing with an iconic venue that’s been on television for 50-plus years like Doral’s Blue Monster has, you’ve got to look at that with some level of sensitivity as you approach the design changes. And so at first we looked at how we could retain the full value of Dick Wilson’s contribution here in the golf course.
        “Then as we got further into the project we really began to appreciate the scale of the property. It’s a massive 300-plus acres devoted to one 18-hole golf course. And as the scale unfolded, as we started to open the golf course up, Donald Trump came to us and said, “Hey, let’s just make this bigger and better.” And at that point in time we started to look at a lot of other opportunities that came up.
        I think we started with a restoration in mind, but for this one golf course to have so much space provided us with ample opportunities to move some things around.We made some significant changes and alterations within the original corridors of Dick Wilson’s routing to the point that now we think of it as a brand new golf course.”

Golf course owner, Donald J. Trump, hit the first ball at the official opening ceremony of the redesigned Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami on 2/6/2014.

Trump’s take on the redesign:

        Architect Gil Hanse said, “Donald's vision had a lot to do with the major changes in the redesigning of the Blue Monster. He was the one who suggested we turn the ninth and 18th holes into an amphitheater-type setting.”
        Trump responded, “Originally, the golf course redesign started out as more of a restoration. “focusing on Dick Wilson’s design and what he actually built back in 1962. But as we got more into the scale of this huge project, I said, to Gil, "If you guys want to expand the scope of this, I'm all for it. I'd like to make this golf course as dramatic as possible and all-new would be fine for me."

Donald J. Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump are seen here on the job site during the renovation and redesigning of The Blue Monster golf course at Trump National Doral Miami.

        “Then,” said Mr. Trump, “I asked Gil, ‘What if we create a stadium effect around nine and eighteen, and if we move it around can we make the driving range much bigger?’ And that in turn unlocked a lot of dominoes that just started falling into place. That’s how this project went from a golf course restoration to a redesign.”
        “We knew we already had a great golf hole in the 18th, so our focus was how do we make the theatre bigger. So basically, what Gil and I talked about was, "Okay, we've got the corporate hospitality area and the spectators all around the back side of the 18th green, what if we look at shifting the ninth green over closer to the 18th and therefore open up the possibility of having a huge amphitheater around two greens. So now the stage as you're coming in is not only set for 18, but also for nine, and ten tee.”

New Royal Palms line the right side of the teebox of the 614 yard, par five 10th hole of the newly redesigned Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami.

        “That chain of events opened up a lot of possibilities, said Trump. “By moving the ninth green over next to 18th green, it left enough space to move the 10th tee, thereby making room to expand the practice range for the players and the resort. Plus, now the 10th hole is more like a true Cape hole, allowing the players to bite off as much as they can handle with their tee-shot over water.”
        “What is a Cape hole,” asked Florida Golf Magazine editor, Joe Stine? Trump thought for a moment and then began a lesson in golf course architecture saying, “Legendary architect Charles Blair Macdonald is generally credited with designing the original hole named “Cape” in 1911, which was the 14th at National Golf Links on Long Island, but basically any hole with a diagonal drive over a hazard can be called a Cape-style hole.”
        Continuing with his impromptu dissertation Trump then said, “Another key component of a Cape hole is usually the fairway width. In general, by choosing the shorter and safer route over the hazard you risk hitting the ball through the fairway, whereas a more direct angle toward the green deepens the effective landing area.
        “Obviously, the challenge is deciding how much risk you’re willing to take. More risk taken off the tee earns an easier shot to the green, provided you successfully execute the drive. A good Cape-style hole challenges your mind, your heart and your swing. And that’s what golf is all about.”
        “Since the ninth green was shifted over, we started looking at the angle from the ninth tee and then decided to put the ninth tee where the 8th green used to be and shifted the new 8th green to-the-left,” said Mr. Trump.
        “So essentially, moving the ninth green to make a stadium around the 9th and 18th greens caused a domino effect that also allowed us to improve holes 8, 9 and 10 and the driving range...a sort of miracle.”

Hole #1 of The New Blue Monster

Made longer and tougher, the 1st hole of the newly redesigned Blue Monster is a 572 yard par five with a large bunker in the middle of the fairway up toward the green.

        When asked about his thought process while redesigning the opening hole of the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami, architect Gil Hanse said, “When Jim Wagner (Hanse’ business partner) and I were looking at the golf hole we were talking a lot about making it so difficult that all they’re going do is lay up. Nobody wants that. You want to still see that drama. You want to make sure that it has to be what we like to call an exceptional shot.
        It was one of the easiest holes on Tour. I think stroke average-wise it was just near 4.1 or 4.2. It was basically a guarantee birdie when the pros stepped on the tee.
        So we looked again at the scale of the property and how we could move some things around and it became apparent that there was some ground. We added a little more than 80 yards to the hole, so it can now play well over six hundred yards which downwind for some players will still be reachable.

Here, early morning dew can still be seen around the large fairway bunker that guards the approach of the 572 yard, par five, 1st hole of the Blue Monster.

Just past the huge fairway bunker is this beautiful landing area in front of the green of the 572 yard, par five 1st hole of The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami.

        Then we had to reposition new fairway bunkers correctly because they were out of scale and most golfers were driving over them, and then create an interesting thought process for the second shot for the golfers who are going for it. Obviously it’s a very challenging green, very long and narrow and set right up against the pond on the right hand side with a bunker on the front left.
        For the golfers who are going lay up getting the desired angle to play their shot into the different hole locations is really important. With the penalty to the right side of the green being so harsh, a water hazard, we felt we needed to give a little bit of room to the left and the perceptive golfer will be able to figure out, okay here's my miss I can use this bank if I miss it, it will bounce and maybe kick onto the green. If I miss it wide left now I've got a little perched downhill shot to a green that is running away from me towards the water, so it's not a gimme. As an architect you're always trying to find just the right balance. So we tried to strengthen the golf hole, but still make them have to think about options, and coming out of the blocks on number one we think that golfers will be immediately hit with, wow, okay this is a different ball game.”

The Most Exciting Changes To Back Nine!

15 is a par three that now is 20 yards shorter but has a carry over water to a peninsula green, and 16, is still a reachable par four but now 30 yards shorter, with more risk in the form of water down the left side of the hole.

        Some of the biggest and most exciting changes made at Trump National Doral’s Blue Monster are at the par three 15th hole and the par four, 16th hole. The 15th, a par 3 that now has a carry over water to a peninsula green. The 16th is still a reachable par 4, but with more risk as water can be found down the left side of the hole.
         “We basically had those holes designed as they are now as part of our original design proposed to Mr. Trump,” said Gil Hanes.
        “That was going to be the dramatic corner of the property where we felt like we could make some positive contributions by making the finishing stretch a little bit more exciting.
        Where we really started to expand the envelope was up around the clubhouse, eight, nine and ten, the driving range, those areas. That’s when the scale of this project really came out.”

Hole #15 of The New Blue Monster

Pictured here, the 153 yard par three 15th hole of The Blue Monster is a formidable peninsula green. The new 16th hole can also be seen here in the distant background.

        In regard to the 15th hole of The Blue Monster, Hanse said, “This is a short par-3, which we think is important for the overall balance for the golf course. The green actually stayed in the same location as the old green; we just moved the water in and expanded the pond. I think it is a very dramatic part of the finishing stretch. The tiered green itself is almost like three greens within one green, creating a lot of different hole locations.
        “In order to create a bit more drama to the finish we brought the water dramatically into play on this hole. It was always off to the side and never really part of the design. And so by pulling it all the way across the golf hole it is definitely part of the overall strategy that players will have to face. So from that standpoint we think we've created a more dramatic piece of property for the golf course, we've created a more dramatic golf hole for the fans, and we think especially on Sunday when that pin gets tucked over to the left, it will be more of a challenge for the golfers as well.”
        “For short par three it’s actually a pretty large putting green,” said Gil. “As far as the toughest pin position on the green I think the front left hole location is the most difficult because it juts well out into the lake.
        And I think even with a short iron in their hands golfers will be still a little bit jittery to go after that hole location, but when you' do get up on the green you’ll see we built something into the contour of the green where they can actually aim away and still funnel or feed the ball down toward that hole location.“
        “We always looked at the original 15th as a solid golf hole, but nothing spectacular or really that exciting. But now I think it’s one of the more exciting parts of the golf course.”

Hole #16 of The New Blue Monster

The drivable 341 yard, dogleg left, par four 16th hole of The newly re-designed Blue Monster.

Strategic bunkering around the green of the drivable 341 yard, par four, dogleg left 16th hole.

        Even though Hanse made the newly redesigned 16th hole 30 yards shorter than it used to be, the water he added on the hole makes it still trickier for the Tour players to drive the green like they used to. Hanse said, “Technology had made this hole more drivable –players were just hitting over the trees even though they couldn’t see the green complex. Now it’s back to a point where we opened up the hole and brought water into play off the tee if they want to make that carry into the green. If they lay up into the fairway, the wedge shot will be very demanding because we have some dramatic undulations to separate the hole locations. You have to be very precise with that iron shot.

Hole #17 of The New Blue Monster

The 17th is sneaky tough. The green is enormously deep (40 yards) and a miss-judged approach shot could very likely cause a three-putt on this hole.

The Forward tees of the 425 yard par four 17th hole of The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami.

        The 17th hole of The Blue Monster has been rebuilt as a classic Dick Wilson par 4, touched up with more intricate bunkering by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. The 430-yard hole calls for a left-to-right shaped tee shot, followed by a distinctly opposite-shaped right-to-left approach shot. It's a Wilson trademark, and this subtle mix of rewarding different shot shapes within the same hole appeals to those players looking to test all facets of their games. The 17th is sneaky tough. The green is enormously deep (40 yards) and a miss-judged approach shot could very likely cause a three-putt on this hole.
        When asked how come the 17th was the only one of the four finishing holes without water in play, architect Hanse said, “Jim Wagner, my design partner, and I think that the 17th really sets the stage for the 18th which is one of the strongest finishing holes on the PGA Tour, and from that standpoint to have a golf hole immediately before it that competes for any sort of attention, I think doesn’t really fit into the pace. And I believe Dick Wilson knew that when he designed it. He was setting up the stage for that grand finish.

Seen here is the 17th green of the newly redesigned Blue Monster with the 18th tee and the clubhouse in the distant background.

Hole #18 of The New Blue Monster

The 18th has water on the left and a bunker complex and trees on the right, and then an approach over water into a narrow green that slopes toward the hazards.

        The par four 18th is Dick Wilson's most famous hole. The closer has always required two perfect shots: a tee shot that avoids water on the left and a bunker complex and trees on the right and then an approach over water into a narrow green that slopes toward the hazards. The Blue Monster’s 18th hole has long been known as one of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour.
        Comparing the design of the new 18th to Dick Wilson’s original design, Gil Hanse said, “I think for the most part, everything is in the same place. But as we went through the entire property we had to look at not only balancing the design and the esthetics, which I think most people notice right away, but also practical aspects of the course, like drainage, and trying to get the soil structure right from a maintenance standpoint.”
        “So the golf course has basically been lifted up in place,” continued Hanse. “I think probably the most noticeable aspect of the 18th is that it feels like it sits a little higher on the ground now. So when you’re standing on the tee, that bank on the left hand side that the longer hitters try to carry now looks a little more daunting and a little bit more forceful in its presentation.
        Everything else is pretty much still in place. It’s a great enough challenge for the Tour players let alone the resort guests. But now I think the fans experience a much better tournament to watch.”

Pages 26 - 35 - Summer 2014 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved.

In Miami: Florida’s #1 Golf Resort Trump National Doral Miami
Trump Golf Commits to Environmental Certification by Audubon International

The Gary Player Villa at Trump National Doral Miami, Gary Player & Trump Family Preside Over Grand Opening
Tiger Woods attends Opening of The Tiger Woods Villa at Trump National Doral Miami
Trump National Doral’s Newly Re-imagined Meeting & Event Space

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