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Tour Confidential: Is the Woods/Mickelson era nearing its end?

Trump National Doral
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Patrick Reed on the 18th green of Doral's revamped Blue Monster.

3. We heard a lot of Donald Trump-fueled hype about Doral's redesigned Blue Monster this week. How did the course ultimately measure up?

VAN SICKLE: The course needs some serious tweaks. Personally, I don't think it's golf if you can hit a shot 10 feet from the pin and have your ball wind up in the water. A few greens need to be fixed and softened. I'm not thrilled with some of the sharp edges around the ponds, either. The course is definitely a tough test for the pros now, but good luck to the resort guests the other 51 weeks. I sure don't want to play behind the resort chop who hits it in that fairway bunker at 16 and has to spend 10 minutes raking up 40 yards of footprints to get out of there while I’m waiting. I'd say you can add 30-45 minutes to the average playing time for a round of golf for resort guests.

LYNCH: The new, still-firm greens means that this year Doral was more representative of what Trump wants to showcase: achingly difficult one-note golf that destroys scorecards in a manner he associates with the U.S. Open. As the course settles in, it will be more representative of what Gil Hanse was trying to achieve: a more thoughtful, strategic approach to otherwise flat, typical Florida golf.

RITTER: It was wet and wild and fun to watch. A nice improvement.

SHIPNUCK: It definitely looks better and provides a more interesting, strategic test. But it’s way more extreme than the typical Hanse design, and you gotta assume he was nudged in that direction by the blast furnace that is Trump’s mouth. For Trump to state he wanted even par to be the winning score is ridiculous -- this ain’t the U.S. Open, and it shouldn’t be. It’ll be a much better venue next year when some tweaks have been made and the greens are more mature.

GODICH: I loved it. Best I could tell, they toughened the course without tricking it up. I especially liked what they did to the 7th, 8th, 15th and 16th holes.

SENS: It stood up well. Always a good sign when a course metes out some lumps and not all the players come off whining. Means they thought it was tough but fair. And besides, it's in a different stratosphere from the Blue Monstrosity it replaced. That joint was one of the most grossly overrated -- or at least overpriced, since not many sentient beings rated it all that highly -- courses anywhere.

PASSOV: Trump National Doral's Blue Monster proved a superior test for the game's best. Yes, it was too hard, with greens too firm and fast during the nasty winds on Friday, but it yielded plenty of birdies and eagles on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a few low rounds. I would have liked to see the rough brought up a little to stop so many shots from rolling in the water -- recoveries are such a great part of the game -- but Mr. Trump thinks great golf needs to be hard golf, and that's what he delivered this week.

4. Which famous golf course or Tour stop could most use a Gil Hanse/Trump National Doral-style makeover?

VAN SICKLE: I'm not a big fan of the Bear Trap finish at PGA National for the Honda Classic. The course in San Antonio is also kind of an oddball. Those are two nominees.

LYNCH: I'd suggest Tour venues tend to suffer more from a dispiriting sameness of setup than a deficiency of quality architecture. Still, there are a few clunkers where the bulldozers could be ushered in. I nominate Torrey Pines, where at least the good views help take your mind off the utterly banal layout.

SHIPNUCK: I sincerely hope you don’t mean a Trump redo but a vintage Hanse renovation. If so, I’d say Torrey Pines South. It’s such a great piece of land but the Rees-ification made it too hard and monotonous. I’d love to see Hanse improve it.

RITTER: All the courses that host the Humana Challenge. What was the winning score there this year, 28 under? That event needs some teeth. Bring in the cranes and the Trump-copter!

PASSOV: Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, used to have the reputation as the hardest par-70 in golf. Ben Hogan, Cary Middlecoff and Arnold Palmer were all supporters of its quality and sternness as a test of golf. Hogan won Colonial five times, with a one-under-par 279 his BEST score. Since 2000, the highest winning score is 269, with Zach Johnson's 259 in 2010 and 261s shot by Kenny Perry, in 2003 and 2005 being especially egregious. Colonial and Hogan's legacy deserve better.

GODICH: I will reluctantly nominate Colonial. Hogan's Alley is just too short by today's Tour standards. A renovation would create some buzz and might bring the big names back.

SENS: Torrey. Stunning backdrop. Snooze-inducing design. Would be great if they narrowed the yawning gap between the two.

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