Donald Trump reopens Doral's Blue Monster

The new No. 1 at Doral.

The new No. 1 at Doral.

DORAL, Fla. – The helicopter has alighted, parked safely by the new landing pad adjacent to the ninth tee. The media throng is assembling for the gala ribbon cutting on Thursday, Feb. 6. Folks from Golf Channel are out on the course checking it out with their golf clubs. And architect Gil Hanse just flew in Wednesday morning, barely escaping a vicious snowstorm in his hometown of Philadelphia to give tours explaining the new strategy.

The Blue Monster is back, its holes seemingly in the same place. But nearly everything about the place has changed. And owner Donald Trump could not be happier.

He’s out on the course playing a casual round with his new BFF, Rocco Mediate. Their partners are Gary Williams and Charlie Rymer from Golf Channel. Around them, workers hammer away, forklifts hoist goods into place, and a crane towers over the clubhouse – a building that looks like it will barely be readied in time for the WGC-Cadillac Championship next month.

For now, what counts is that the Bermudagrass turf cover is all in place. Superintendent Don Thornburgh and crew are in overtime maintenance mode, just trying to catch up with new trees, back tees, sodded areas, bleachers going up and supply paths covered in dirt.

The dust is flying all around. But at the center is a lush green carpet of turfgrass covering a golf course that is now ready to emerge from a total transformation. Trump spent $13 million. In the process he got all new greens, bunkers, tees and sand-capped fairways, a practice range that’s more than twice as large and has night light towers for practicing until 10 p.m.

The glitz and glam all kick off Thursday morning. There will be press conferences, speeches, talk of it being the best resort in the world, and a sense of relief and amazement that the course got done in time. For the moment, no one will talk about the green fee - $399 for resort guests, $450 for the outside play – plus (fore)caddie.

For now it’s just a golf party to celebrate a dramatic transformation.

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