Now it’s known as Trump National—Doral. But back in 1962, when it was originally founded, the Doral Resort earned its name by combining the first names of founders Doris and Alfred Kaskel.
Over its fifty-five year history, the six hundred fifty room resort has waxed and waned, fallen on hard times and then resurrected. Decades ago it was an important PGA Tour stop, the start of the Florida Swing in March, leading to the Masters. Eventually, when the January and February West Coast events gained prominence, Doral’s annual event had less consequence, but then beginning in 2007 it roared back to relevance as a World Golf Championship venue.
It’s arguable that the event’s ultimate heyday was the early to middle ‘90s, when the charismatic Greg Norman won three times, and sandwiched around victories by other Hall of Fame players like Nick Faldo and Ray Floyd. It’s rebranding as a World Golf Championship venue brought victories by luminaries such as Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson. However, now it’s no longer part of the PGA Tour schedule at all.
Despite its ups and downs, resort guests still beat a path to the first tee of the famed Blue Monster, and those who have the time and inclination will search for the trio of ‘supporting players’ on property. Many courses have updated their names such as the Golden Palm (formerly the Gold Course), the Red Tiger (formerly the Red Course), and the Silver Fox (formerly known as the Jim McLean Signature Course).
The Blue Monster is on the top of the marquee, and is where the aforementioned tour stars captured their oversized checks and gleaming trophies. Originally designed by Dick Wilson, over the past few decades the course has been modified and updated to challenge the skill set of PGA Tour players. First, it was modernized by one of their own—three-time Doral Champion Ray Floyd. Subsequent to Floyd’s involvement, and once the Trump organization took the reins, Gil Hanse (architect of the 2016 Rio Olympics Golf Course) came on board, lengthening the course to nearly 7,600 yards. The course features a series of strategically placed deep bunkers, long flowing fairways, runway-style tee boxes, undulating greens, deep Bermuda rough and a challenging assortment of water hazards. Simply put, length of the tee and a deft short game are key ingredients to success.
Certainly one of the most memorable golf shots of the last fifteen years was authored on the Blue Monster by Australia’s Craig Parry, who holed out a 6-iron on the tournament’s final hole for an improbable eagle to capture what was then known as the Ford Championship back in 2004. With the demands of the wind, constricted fairway and ever-present water, the rest of us can only dream of making three, be happy with four and for most players, not unsatisfied with bogey five. The famous finisher, long ranked by GOLF Magazine as one of the Top Hundred Holes in the World, is that tough.
The Silver Fox Course necessitates a ten minute shuttle ride from the main property, a small time intrusion in the overall scheme of things. The course presents a variety of challenges that include three of the toughest starting holes in the state, a memorable quartet of par 3s, and the feared “Bermuda Triangle” of holes 13 through 15. Five sets of tees afford plenty of playing flexibility for those who break par, those who break clubs, and all levels in between.
The Golden Palm is named for the trees lining almost every fairway. It also features a very unique bunker style with tight-cut edges around the fairway at the entry point (allowing balls to easily roll in) and heavy rough around the back side of each sand cavern that presents an element of difficulty that one might find in the famous ‘Sand Belt’ of Australia. The course concludes with an island green, a much harder than average approach shot on the staunch par-4 finisher.
Finally, the Red Tiger is just 6,400 yards from the tips, set on just 120 acres. However, with more than a dozen water-laden holes winding around several lakes, including the driveable par-4 fourth, it offers plenty of testy tee shots and nervy approaches. Even at its former length of 6,100 yards (prior to its slight lengthening as part of another Gil Hanse renovation), the course was staunch enough to attract the LPGA in 2001 for the Office Depot Championship.
Dining options at the resort, like the meals themselves, are plentiful. Playing the 18th at the Blue Monster is stressful, but viewing it from within BLT Prime is not. This is a classic steakhouse, with warm signature popovers and mouthwatering entrees like American Wagyu Ribeye or a 28-day dry aged Porterhouse Steak. The Champions Bar & Grill is decidedly more casual, golf attire perfectly acceptable, but offers a hearty menu nonetheless. Jumbo ‘Red Tiger’ Shrimp, ‘Chicken Lollipops,’ and an artisan meat and cheese board are great starters. Popular entrees include the burger with sirloin pulled pork, aged gruyere and mushrooms, and St. Louis ribs with a spiced rub, pork and cheddar grits and a vinegar slaw.