The Blue MonsterNEWS

Miami golf: Doral's Blue Monster is back in action

By S. Adam Cardais,
Staff Writer

The famed Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami officially reopened in September after a four-month renovation to upgrade the track and prepare it for next year's WGC-CA Championship.

All 18 greens were re-grassed to create firmer, faster putting conditions; the bunkers got a comprehensive makeover and much of the track was re-landscaped. The cart paths, heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma last year, were also redone.

"Many of the projects that took place during this refinement phase will enable our team to provide a stellar venue when golf's best players compete on the Blue Monster during the 2007 CA Championship," Doral General Manager Darrin Helfrick said in a statement.

Talking by phone from his Florida office, Helfrick emphasized that the renovation was about keeping the course in better condition year-round, not redesigning it. And while the work wasn't done exclusively for the upcoming championship, the club is excited about how the faster greens will play at the March 20-25 event.

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"We're really anxious to see what the players do this year with the greens," Helfrick said.

The Blue Monster is one of the nation's premier courses, hosting PGA Tour events for the past 40 years. It has received myriad awards and ranked 76th in Golf Magazine's top 100 places to play in 2004 and 2005.

The 7,125-yard track got the Monster tag for its eight formidable water hazards, but it also known for challenging bunkering, undulating greens and spectacularly thick rough. Designed by Dick Wilson in 1960, it started hosting tour events two years and counts Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Greg Norman among past champions. Norman set a course record at the 1993 Doral-Ryder Open with a four-day 265.

Aptly named for its eight formidable water hazards, the Blue Monster has gained so much notoriety over the years that it often overshadows the four other courses at Doral. The Great White, designed by Norman, opened in 2000 and is often mentioned with the same breath as its big brother.

The Red, Silver and Gold courses are also top-rate tracks, though not on quite the same level as the "blue and white."

Helfrick said the Blue Monster is a traditional course, without many of the gimmicks employed by modern tracks - one reason tour players enjoy stopping by.

"We're trying to maintain the tradition," he said. "That's why we didn't change the design" with the current renovation.

This is the Blue Monster's third renovation in 10 years. Raymond Floyd got a crack at restoring it in 1996, and Jim McLean, head of Doral's golf school, reshaped the bunkers in 1999.

October 4, 2006

The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. Content for this site is provided by GolfPublisher Syndications.

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