WGC-Cadillac: Explosive changes at Doral should produce a classic tournament
Last Updated: 06/03/14 10:51pm
The 18th at Doral: Regarded as one of the toughest finishing holes in golf
David Livingstone paid a trip to Doral ahead of this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship, and he believes the substantial changes to the Blue Monster course will produce a thrilling tournament.
The words subtle and Donald Trump don't really belong in the same sentence except to emphasise what hasn't happened in the redesign of Doral's Blue Monster course in Miami.
At least three holes have been changed beyond recognition and every blade of grass on the entire course has been replaced.
Never one for understatement, Mr Trump told us 12 months ago he was going to "blow the course up" on the Monday after last year's Cadillac Championship.
Well, even if explosives were not quite required, the result is dynamite for all kinds of reasons, not least for completing the job in time for this week's tournament.
For those of you who've been watching our coverage at Doral over the last 20 years, you'll know only too well that it was an old resort course that was beginning to look a bit tired.
Its fabled 18th hole continued to provide tremendous entertainment but, in a general sense, the course was suffering by comparison to the PGA National that hosts the Honda Classic a week before.
Enter The Donald, however, as the new owner of the resort and things change in a hurry.
Perhaps Mr Trump can't quite walk on water but he's certainly been able to move a small ocean of the stuff onto the back nine of the course.
The par five 10th always had water down its left hand side but now a massive lake is directly in front of the players as they tee off.
The 15th hole was previously a bit of an insipid par three. Not any more.
The green is virtually surrounded by water and totally exposed to the wind that can easily kick up at Doral.
The next hole, the 16th, was always a fun short par four where the players could go for the green off the tee.
Now they still can but there's a huge lake cutting into the hole and protecting the green together with a collection of bunkers.
Not surprisingly, the tournament organisers have created a stadium effect with grandstands on this hole and it's going to be quite something come the weekend.
I've spent a couple of days walking the course and it's been interesting bumping into some of the players and hearing their reaction.
The first two here on Sunday were Jason Day, obviously chasing a quick World Championship double, and fellow Australian Brett Rumford. I met them on the 12th so they hadn't yet seen the big changes on 15 and 16.
From Rumford's point of view it doesn't really matter because he never played on the old Doral.
"I don't see anything different," he joked. "It's just a tough, tough course in great condition."
The condition of the course is an interesting point. It doesn't look new at all. In fact, some of the grass looked so "old" I wondered if it had been replaced.
It certainly has though and the explanation for the look seems to be that it's Bermuda grass which, even when new, is wiry and thick and slightly faded in colour.
The greens are, as you'd expect, absolutely immaculate but there seem to be a lot of new slopes and undulations that will get the players' attention and perhaps be slightly controversial.
You'll get to see it all soon enough for yourselves when our coverage starts on Thursday. Look forward to welcoming you to the newly-named Trump National at Doral.
You never know, The Donald himself might put in an appearance in the Sky Studio... if he can overcome that debilitating shyness that's held him back over the years.
Check out the changes for yourself when David and the team bring you live coverage of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, starting on Thursday at 6pm on Sky Sports 4