The Blue Monster Course is back and bigger than ever at the entirely revamped Trump National Doral Miami, now owned and operated by Donald Trump.
Located minutes from Miami International Airport, the Blue Monster anchors the offerings at this 90-hole luxury south Florida golf resort, which has been a host venue on the PGA Tour for decades. The Blue Monster, designed by Dick Wilson in the 1960s, was entirely rebuilt by Gil Hanse and reopened for play in early 2014 after closing following the 2013 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
At the grand reopening in February, many Golf Channel personalities had the chance to experience Trump's new addition to luxury golf course development. Matt Ginella, Gary Williams, Charlie Rymer and Jay Coffin not only covered the opening for the Golf Channel, but also played and rated the golf course on GolfAdvisor. Williams and Rymer awarded the course five stars out of five overall, while Ginella and Coffin each awarded it four stars.
Williams was particularly taken aback by the new bunkering of the Blue Monster.
"The most prevailing feature are the pearl white sand bunkers that are visible across the landscape," Williams wrote. "Hanse has restored several of the great works of A.W. Tillinghast, and their key features are the facings of their bunkers that give the player a very clear idea where the trouble lies while visually creating a dramatic scene for every golfer to enjoy across the entire course."
Rymer, who played the Blue Monster before the renovation and viewed the experience from the perspective of a former PGA Tour player, called the previous course "dated and faded." But he was the most favorable of the Golf Channel foursome with his review of Trump's new version.
"Even his harshest critics will have to admit that what [Trump] has accomplished here is very impressive," Rymer wrote. "Mark my words. Before all is said and done, Donald Trump will be known and respected as a 'golf guy.' After spending a day with him at Trump National Doral, his love of the game is evident."
Watch: Ginella and Rymer talk about the Blue Monster's future
Looking at the course through the eyes of the amateur golfer, Ginella's review gave praise to Hanse's work, along with his design partner Jim Wagner. But in terms of value, Ginella gives it an "average" mark for the fact that it's priced among America's most expensive resort courses.
"Does Blue compare to Pebble Beach? Is it worth more than Pinehurst No. 2? No and no," Ginella wrote. "Prior to Trump's changes, Blue was $350 and it wasn't worth it. What would've been great is if Trump made the changes and dropped the rate to $250."
Coffin, who rated the Blue Monster's value as "poor," wrote, "I liked it a lot, but didn't love it as much as others seem to." He summed up the added challenge of the new Blue Monster for amateurs in his player tip: "If you need to make par on 18 to shoot a good score, good luck."