Neither rain nor wind nor social media criticism can dampen Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for Doral.
One day after the close of the Cadillac Championship and a week that drew some high-profile complaints about the venue, The Donald spoke firmly in support of the course, which he purchased in 2012 and overhauled with the help of architect Gil Hanse.
“It’s a phenomenal golf course,” Trump told Golf.com. “I agree that it’s not an easy course. So I can understand the frustrations of someone who did not play well on it. But I don’t think you can go by an isolated comment. What about the 50 guys who said it was the best course they’ve ever played?”
Trump was speaking in the wake of the event that brought big-hitting Dustin Johnson back to the winner’s circle even as it brought out some barbed words from others in the field.
Here's what Ian Poulter tweeted in reference to a setup that some felt gave long hitters an unfair advantage:
The longest 3 in the field are position 1,2 and if you hadn't guessed 3rd. Hahahahahhahahahahahahahahhaahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahha — Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 8, 2015
Keegan Bradley phrased his complaint as a query:
Do people like watching tour players lay up on par 4s? — Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) March 7, 2015
A more blunt critique came from Brandt Snedeker’s caddie, Scott Vail, who broadcast his assessment in a pair of tweets that he has since deleted.
“The worst golf course I’ve ever caddied on.”
“Goodbye Dump International. .what a terrible golf course!!”
He later apologized:
I apologize for my earlier comments about Doral. My emotions got the best of me. I meant to say it's not a great course for non Bombers. — sv (@thescottvail) March 9, 2015
That Snedeker finished tied for 17th, ten shots behind the winner, may have colored Vail’s opinion. But even J.B. Holmes, who scorched the course on Thursday with a 62, found reason to gripe, directing his displeasure toward the 606-yard par-5 opening hole.
“It’s pretty bad that you can hit two perfect shots and the ball can go in the water because of just a ridiculous green design that’s just terrible,” Holmes said.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and Trump, of course, has his.
When he bought Doral, he said, the “course had become so easy it was pretty much a joke,” so he opted to start nearly from scratch.
“I blew it up,” Trump said. “It’s really not so much a renovation as it is a brand new course, and the players, almost to a man, have loved it.”
Among them, Trump cited Dustin Johnson, who praised the course during Sunday’s trophy presentation.
Sure, Trump said. But it could have played tougher.
“It’s a big course, but it was actually designed to play from even farther back than they played it. Take No. 15 as an example. On Saturday, they had the tees up at 128 yards. It really wasn’t designed to play that short, but that’s fine. I have a great relationship with the Tour and I was fine with what they were doing. They want to make sure people have a good time playing it.”
Though Trump acknowledged that he and Hanse were discussing the possibility of a few tweaks that would demand more strategy on certain tee shots, he said he had no plans for any major design changes.
Does Doral favor big-hitters? Maybe so. Then again, Trump said, so does the game itself.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that the bomber pretty much always has an advantage,” Trump said. “That’s just part of being a great golfer. You can hit it farther than the other guys. Hitting it long is advantage. But so is hitting it straight. Or being a great putter. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”