At this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Miami’s Doral Resort, the pros will get their first look at the considerable changes new owner Donald Trump and architect Gil Hanse have made to the famed Blue Monster course. Here’s a look at the five most significant alterations, which -- in typical Trump fashion -- are less than subtle.
1. No more cupcake par-5s
Once a simple downwind start that the pros could reach in two with 8-irons, the old 529-yard 1st has been stretched nearly 80 yards, rebunkered and now sports a lake flush with the green’s right side. The par-5 8th hasn’t been lengthened, but it now swings left instead of right, and any pulled or overly aggressive shot is wet. A row of palms stands where the old 10th tee was. The new tee demands more of a bite-off-as-much-as-you-dare drive, and the green has been pushed back 60 yards.
2. Heightened risk/reward drama
Gone is the landlocked, 175-yard, par-3 15th. In its stead is a 153-yard hole that plays to a peninsula green jabbed into the water. The par-3 9th, once 169 yards, with a lake that was seldom in play for the pros, features new tees that move the tips back to 216 yards. Its green has been shifted 125 yards to the right and serves up a severe slope on the right side. Any shot that misses short/right will likely doink into the drink. The par-4 16th has been shortened by 30 yards. It’s drivable by many now, but the field will face a daunting carry over water and a slope just beyond that will repel imperfect tee shots.
3. Cleverly contoured greens
Every putting surface at the Blue Monster is new, and there is not a single one that is ordinary, nor similar to another, unlike the old track, which had few memorable greens. So the pros will have to spend the early part of the week learning the breaks anew. One of Hanse’s favorites greens is at the 428-yard, par-4 11th, with its small plateaus back-left and back-right. The 475-yard, par-4 14th has a fabulous shelf back-left and the par-3 15th has a two-level beauty. Play it safe to the right and it’s a brutal downhill breaker to a left-side hole location.
4. More fan appeal
While no one is predicting 150,000 beer-guzzling fans on Saturday, the new design deliberately embraces spectator interaction (“You da Trump!”). Newly raised-up green surrounds allow unimpeded viewing and the 9th and 18th holes are now in close proximity, surrounded by an amphitheater effect, an idea conceived by The Donald himself. With former Key Biscayne tennis boss Butch Buchholz at the helm, look for fashion shows, specialty food and beverage tents and Miami celebs to be out in force.
5. Lighted practice range
Trump is especially proud of transforming one of the worst practice ranges on Tour into one of the best. The new facility is more than twice the size of its predecessor and is brilliantly lit for night use until 10 p.m. Trump has a running wager with his staff that there will be Tour pros beating balls long after dusk. And not just Vijay.
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