Trump's vision for Doral: Awaken a Miami classic

Donald Trump, right, speaks during a Thursday news conference at the Cadillac Championship, as golf course designer Gil Hanse looks on. Trump purchased the Doral Hotel & Country Club, which includes four championship golf courses.

Donald Trump, right, speaks during a Thursday news conference at the Cadillac Championship, as golf course designer Gil Hanse looks on. Trump purchased the Doral Hotel & Country Club, which includes four championship golf courses.

DORAL, Fla. - With the best golfers in the world at Doral this week for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the biggest player didn’t show up until Thursday morning and isn’t even in the field.

Donald Trump visited this Miami-area resort to provide his vision of a new and better Doral when his purchase of the iconic property out of bankruptcy closes on or before June 1.

Trump, the New York developer who has changed the landscape of golf worldwide by first developing golf properties and then purchasing existing properties, has become a major force in golf ownership and development.

“This is an interesting one,” said Trump, comparing his reported $150 million purchase of Doral with his other properties in Florida. “Because as you know, a tremendous amount of money was paid. The problem is, over the years, people have bought Doral. Everybody made money with Doral. They buy it and then sell it, and they buy it and then sell it.”

Trump said his plan is to supplement the purchase price with an additional $200 million to transform Doral, which has hosted the PGA Tour annually on its famed Blue Monster course since 1962, into a first-class resort.

Once the purchase is finalized, the makeover will begin with the rooms and clubhouse, Trump said. Changes on the Blue Monster, designed by Dick Wilson in 1961 and part of the PGA Tour's Tournament Players Club network, won't begin until after the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship. Gil Hanse, the recently named architect for the Rio de Janeiro course that will welcome golf back to the Olympics in 2016, has been given an open checkbook to restore the menace to the Blue Monster.

“It would not be accurate to call it a restoration; it's really not,” Hanse said of Wilson's original design that has been changed numerous times since opening a half-century ago. “It's a renovation, because we think we are obviously making some significant changes to golf holes, but I think within the spirit of Dick Wilson, we'll try to recapture some of the stylistic elements. We'll try to recapture some of his exciting green shapes, hole locations.”

As with many of the game's great designs, such as Augusta National and The Old Course at St. Andrews, angles are the key. Hanse wants to resurrect Doral's natural and manmade hazards by enhancing the angles and potential for risk/reward on each shot.

“We'll try to create a golf course where angles are relevant again and where it's important to get to a proper side to score as opposed to just hitting it as far as you possibly can,” Hanse said of his design philosophy. “I think if you talk to a lot of the (Tour) players, that seems to be the strategy - or lack thereof - on this golf course now, is to try to overpower it. If we can do some things that can hopefully enhance the interest and character in the course, that's really our first and foremost goal.”

The plan to restore what Trump calls “a little bit tired” Doral resort likely will take three years. His daughter Ivanka and son Eric, executives with the The Trump Organization, will be part of the team overseeing the Doral restoration.

“We think that Doral has just tremendous opportunity,” Donald Trump said. “It's a tremendous location, 800 acres right smack in the middle of Miami, and we look to make this one of the great places anywhere in the world for golf.”

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