Not only do we find ourselves in the midst of the Florida Swing, it's also the second of five weeks in a row that will see the PGA Tour's best golfers teeing it up at resort courses. So, we're rolling out a brief recurring feature where we'll advise you on whether it's worth the cash to play where the pros play.
We begin this series with a two-fer, on a rare week when the Tour is staging two events at once. And guess what...they're both at resorts!
World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship
Where? Trump National Doral (Blue Monster Course)
The Blue Monster is one of the PGA Tour's longest-tenured and most storied stops. It has evolved considerably over the years, most notably and most recently undergoing a year-long renovation by Gil Hanse (with plenty of oversight from new resort patriarch Donald Trump). The course, known from inception as being extremely tough, lost some bite over the years, but the teeth are back with a vengeance, with last year's high scores as evidence.
Hanse made noticeable changes to every hole but the iconic 18th, which remains one of the world's nastiest finishing holes and one of the most iconic holes on Tour. Bigger changes include the par-3 15th, whose green is now surrounded on three sides by a lake.
As you would expect from a Trump-branded facility, conditioning is impeccable and the general feel is one of luxury, with pricing to match. A round at the Blue Monster alone will set you back more than $400 when mandatory forecaddie fees and gratuities are factored into the experience.
It depends. If you're willing to spare no expense in order to tick a PGA Tour venue off your bucket list, the Blue Monster will provide a memorable experience. The value-minded golfer will likely find the hefty tariff too hard to swallow, although summer and early fall green fees do fall by nearly half, significantly increasing the value of a trip around one of the Tour's toughest tracks.
Trump National Doral is home to three other courses: the Red Tiger, Golden Palm (both redone by Gil Hanse and recently reopened) and Silver Fox layouts. All have received positive reviews from our sources lately. Other renovation work is still ongoing throughout the resort, so you'll have to pardon a bit of dust if you are looking to visit in the near future.
Outside of Doral, Miami offers up a wide range of golf options. We are particularly fond of Turnberry Isle's resort and two golf courses, as well as Coral Gables' Biltmore, with a classic Donald Ross course course restored by Brian Silva adjoining the grand hotel.
Puerto Rico Open
Where? Trump International Golf Club - Puerto Rico
In his trademark bold fashion, this week turns out to be a Trump two-step. The Donald's Caribbean outpost is decidedly less impressive than his Doral property, but not by a long way. It consists of two Tom Kite-designed courses; the Tour will visit the Championship layout, though we actually prefer the International Course, which offers a bit of mountain golf to the Championship's seaside ways. Yet again, expect to pay the "Trump tax," as green fees generally top $200.
If you're looking to visit Puerto Rico and play golf while you're there, yes. These courses are among the best you will find on the island.
If you want to spare no expense, we would direct you straight to Royal Isabela, the quiet, rustic and very luxurious seaside retreat about 90 miles west of Trump International. The resort was developed by tennis great Charlie Pasarell, who designed the fun, gorgeous golf course with Pete Dye disciple David Pfaff. If you want a bigger resort experience, we like Dorado Beach, but recommend against the somewhat doughty Pineapple Course in favor of the stronger East and Sugarcane layouts.
What do you think about Miami and Puerto Rico as golf destinations? Have you teed it up at these Tour tracks? Tell us all about it below.