Category: Miami

February 06, 2014

A Meaner Monster: Donald Trump teams with architect Gil Hanse to make Doral scarier than ever

Posted at 11:21 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Trump National Doral Miami
A rerouted fairway and added bunkers have enhanced the strategic appeal at the 442-yard, par-4 sixth at Doral in Miami. (Courtesy of Trump National Doral)


What do you say to a beast that's lost its bite? If you're Doral resort owner Donald Trump, that's easy: "You're fired." In the case of the legendary Blue Monster course at Doral, a better phrase might have been, "You're tired."

The Donald announced his solution at a memorable press conference in March 2013, on the eve of the WGC–Cadillac Championship. "They're saying the course is in the best shape [it's been in] in 25 years," he said. "It's a little ironic, because we blow it up on Monday."

Indeed, the Blue Monster, which opened in 1962, was due for a makeover. "Sometimes after 20, 30 years, courses need an update, and this course will benefit from it," said reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. "It needs to get back to living up to its reputation as the Blue Monster."

Trump agreed, bringing aboard red-hot architect Gil Hanse and associate Jim Wagner to execute his vision. The results are instantly obvious.

Once marshmallow-soft, the par-5 opener has been stretched to nearly 600 yards and features a new pond to the right of the green. The rinky-dink par-3 15th now demands a watery carry to a peninsula green. The par-4 16th remains drivable for big bashers, but a new lake guarding the left side amplifies the risk/reward drama. Hanse wisely left the par-4 18th -- one of the Tour's most dramatic, difficult closers -- virtually unchanged.

In all, liquid peril looms on 14 holes, up from six. Water, water, everywhere. Why so much? To modernize and toughen up a track that dates to the JFK administration. Mission accomplished. With newly sharpened teeth, this Monster is scarier than ever.

Trump National Doral Miami (Blue Monster), Miami, Fla. 7,450 yards, par 72; Green fees: $270-$500; (305) 592-2030;

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February 10, 2012

Ask Travelin' Joe Passov: Miami deals and why Spyglass is underrated

Posted at 3:23 PM by Joe Passov

DoralIf you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe, Where are the best deals in Miami for the month of February? We are all decent golfers, so we would like to play some nice courses. Thanks!
John C.
Babylon, N.Y.


As most of you know, I’m partial to the offerings at Doral, pictured, (305-592-2000, and Turnberry Isle (305-932-6200,, but I acknowledge that both are pretty pricey. That said, both properties qualify in the “you get what you pay for” department. There is a wide variety of second-tier courses and lodging options in and around Miami, but they’re all over the map where it comes to packages that jump out.

Perhaps the best place to start is with an outfit called GOLFPAC Travel (888-848-8941,, which has been providing package information on Florida properties (and elsewhere) for 35 years. In Miami, they have Doral and Turnberry deals available, as well as Don Shula’s and Hotel Indigo Miami Lakes, two bargain properties that will fit many budgets.

A final option I recommend is The Biltmore (877-311-6903, in Coral Gables. Awash with classy, Old World elegance, it’s not necessarily prime real estate for buddies trips, but for couples and families, it’s perfect, thanks to its vintage, playable Donald Ross course (restored/renovated by Brian Silva in 2007), its fabled swimming pool and its terrific restaurants.

Still, if you and your pals wind up here, the resort’s Hole-in-One package goes above and beyond, not only offering unlimited golf, range balls and discounted instruction, but also tee time access to Doral and at Crandon Park, the scenic Key Biscayne muni (and former Champions Tour venue) that plays along the water amid vistas of Miami’s high-rises.

Hey, Joe, I’m planning on going to Atlanta soon, so is there any way I can play at Augusta National. Thanks very much.
Ryan O.
Via email


Take it From Joe
Spyglass Hill: America’s Most Underrated Course
The PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach event takes place this week, renewing everybody’s love affair with one of earth’s most visually compelling championship tests, Pebble Beach. Nothing wrong with Pebble—but those blimp aerials, and Saturday’s celebrity showcase, inevitably overshadow one of the tournament’s co-hosts, Spyglass Hill, which is a shame, because America deserves to see more of Spyglass.

A few years back, I asked the question, “How can a course that invariably gets ranked in the U.S. Top 50 be labeled underrated?” Simple. It’s rarely seen on television and it’s stuck next to Pebble—and next to Cypress Point, for that matter. Critics harp on the schizophrenic nature of the layout and natter on that once you leave the sixth tee, you’re done with the ocean. That may be true—but this is still one great golf course.

Spyglass’ virtues start with one of the scariest opening tee shots in golf. Fog-enshrouded and library quiet, the silence on the first tee is disturbed only by golf balls echoing off the enormous pines that pinch the fairway. Next on this 595-yard, par-5 that veers sharply to the left is a jaw-dropping ocean view from the fairway crest. A short, straight drive won’t work, as the timber will block your second. Even a healthy drive down the middle will leave you an awkward downhill, sidehill lie.

Holes 2 through 5 romp through massive dunes and would be standouts anywhere. Six through 18 are thickly forested and mostly play uphill, making it a grind to walk and tough to score on, but the par 3s are gorgeous and two of the par4s are among the most challenging in golf, the reverse cambered 8th that slopes to the right but doglegs left and the brutal 16th, where merely hitting the green in two is an achievement.

Sure, Spyglass yielded 62s to Phil Mickelson in 2005 and Luke Donald in 2006, but for most of us, it’s just a beautiful brute—and it was flat-out nasty when it opened, back in 1966. It made its PGA Tour debut in the 1967 Bing Crosby Pro-Am, when the host himself crooned an offer to Jack Nicklaus: “I’ll bet you five you can’t shoot under par from the back tees in your first round at Spyglass.” It was unclear whether Bing meant $5.00 or $5,000, but Nicklaus notched a 2-under-par 70 in his practice round and Bing forked over $500 to charity. The Golden Bear stumbled to a 74 when it counted, yet still won the event by five.

In 2012, as always, the AT&T winner will have to conquer Pebble Beach’s closing stretch along the Pacific, but he’ll also have to survive Spyglass before that to capture the crystal.

(Photo: Doral Golf Resort)

January 29, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Phoenix, Palm Springs and Miami

Posted at 8:29 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
We're coming down to the Phoenix area to catch the FBR Open, and we're staying to play golf for a week. My group is mostly low handicappers, between 3 and 10, and we've got a few top courses lined up. We've got one free day and would like to fill it with one more round. Do you have one hidden gem -- quality and price -- that you can recommend?

Sandy Laird
Englewood, Colorado

The best new course you can play in Phoenix isn't new -- but it is newly public. Southern Dunes Golf Club (480-367-8949,; $49-$119) in Maricopa, 25 minutes south of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport was a private men's club for its first six years of existence, where members included major championship winners Mark Calcavecchia and Steve Jones.

Unfortunately, it's an hour from Scottsdale, on the "wrong" side of town, so the business model didn't hold up -- but the course sure did. This big, bold layout might be the very best work that Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley have done, with broad, sweeping, fescue-framed fairways, deep, artfully contoured and strategically placed bunkers and masterfully crafted undulating greens.

Toss in unobstructed mountain and desert vistas, Troon Golf management and a green fee that's less than half of some of Scottsdale's trophy courses, and you have what I consider to be Arizona's best value.

Hello Joe,
I live in the Seattle area and I am planning a trip at the end of January. I'm kicking around Palm Springs or the Dallas area. Is there something in either of those areas that is both nice and economical? We're a group of six and looking for a package similar to what you would find at the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama. We did that last year but ran into some unfriendly weather. However the tracks and unlimited golf were incredible. We're all low handicappers and looking for a challenge if there is one. I'm also considering Horseshoe Bay in the Austin area.

Jeff Jones
Seattle, Washington

Intriguing options, indeed, but let's break it down. First, you won't find anything remotely resembling the Trent Jones Trail anywhere -- it's one of a kind, even among other Trails. Now, if weather is an issue and you guys are good golfers, I'd forego Dallas and Austin this time around and stick with Palm Springs.

You'll find plenty of affordable, quality public golf in both Texas destinations, but in late January, you're looking at average daytime highs in the upper 50s in Dallas, lower 60s in Austin. Pay the freight and enjoy the 70- to 75-degree sunshine that Palm Springs has to offer.

One option is the Golf Package at Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa (760-341-1000,, which includes golf at Indian Wells Golf Resort, lodging, full breakfast, a sleeve of logo balls and yes -- a GOLF Magazine subscription. Both Indian Wells courses are once and future Skins Game hosts, and you can't go wrong picking either the Clive Clark-designed Celebrity Course or the John Fought-crafted Players Course, each a sturdy, gorgeous test. Package prices start at $331 per person, per night, through February 28th.   

Dear Joe:
We are going to Miami in March. Where would you recommend we play? We played Doral Blue last time.

Chris Kennedy
Omaha, Nebraska

Nothing like starting at the top and working your way down. Fortunately, it's not much of a stumble. Doral's Gold course (800-713-6725,; $175) features strategic bunkering, flat fairways with landing zones shrunk by March winds and water on 16 holes -- in other words, a similar experience to the Blue -- for roughly half the price.

For the ultimate in pampering, check out Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club's Soffer course (305-932-6200,; $250), complete with waterfalls, tropical vegetation and forecaddies, but you've got to stay there to play there.

For something new, try Normandy Shores Golf Club (305-868-6502,; $90-$160), a 68-year-old muni in Miami Beach basking in a 2008 Arthur Hills extreme makeover. A great location, risk/reward holes and Sunshine State scenery adds up to pure fun. 

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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