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PGA Tour stop Doral resort a good deal more than just golf

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
Doral Golf Resort & Spa
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Doral Golf Resort & Spa has five 18-hole golf courses. (Courtesy VisitFlorida.com)

MIAMI — If you golf in Florida or the Southeast, you've most likely heard of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa. If you're from the North, West or Southwest, you've probably heard the name Doral. In fact, if you're from most places in the world and are familiar with the game of golf, you're probably familiar with the name.

Doral is the longest-running PGA Tour stop in Florida, which is why a lot of people have heard the name. What some people might not know is that Doral is also a world-class resort, with five golf courses in all, and a world-class spa.

The Doral Golf Resort & Spa has a classic, Miami look, with palm trees swaying from the ocean breezes, under blue, cloudless skies. It seems to take up the entire town of Doral, spread out over 650 acres.

The resort has almost 700 rooms and suites in Italian-inspired villas, all with private balconies and marble accents. In addition, there are 48 luxury suites connected to the spa. It's a place frequented by business travelers, with 90,000 square feet of meeting space and a 24,000-square=foot Legends Ballroom scheduled to open in 2007.

It's also a family resort, with the Blue Lagoon aquatic area and its 150-foot waterslide and waterfalls.

The spa is a big attraction here, but make no mistake, golf is the centerpiece. In fact, it's sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Golf. Its five courses make it unique among South Florida golf resorts.

First, of course, is the Blue Monster. The Blue Monster at Doral is a tough golf course in and of itself, but maybe the toughest thing about it is the fact that so many try to play it like the pros. You may want to think about a fairway wood off the tee.

"They (the pros) use a lot of sfairway woods out here," said the resort's B.J Thompson. "It just shows you how differently they play the game than everyone else.

"One of our biggest challenges, our biggest tasks, is making sure golfers pick the right tees," Thompson said. "I mean, it's a PGA Tour course."

The Blue Monster closed for three months this past summer after a $1.5 million renovation, and just recently opened. They re-grassed all the greens, which are in excellent condition though obviously still very firm.

Then, there's the Greg Norman-designed Great White track. It's 7,171 yards long and is the only golf course in the Southeast to use crushed shells as its main design element. Norman put in demanding fairways with scattered palms and occasional, Scottish-style bunkers, with water in play on 14 holes.

The Gold course was designed by Raymond Floyd, with narrow, tree-lined fairways and gently contoured greens. It finishes with an island green on the 18th.

The Red course hosted an LPGA tournament in 2001, and requires strategy and shot placement, with water on 14 holes. The Silver was designed by Jerry Pate, with atypical, rolling fairways, raised tee boxes and another island green on the 14th.

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Doral Blue Monster

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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