The Golf Story On Doral's Other Four Golf Courses

By Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

MIAMI, FL - Golf at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa is built around the famous Blue Monster, but you don't need to set foot on the Blue Monster to have the playing experience of a lifetime at the resort. Four other excellent golf courses -- the Great White, Red, Silver and Gold Courses --give players plenty of options.

"We have five really good golf courses," Director of Golf Michael Miraglia said. "You can come on vacation and even if you play 36 holes a day, it will take you three days to play all of our courses. Each course is just a little different than the other. It's not your typical Florida golf."

When playing golf at Doral, bring plenty of ammunition. Of the 72 holes on these four courses, water comes into play on 60 of them.

Showing a commitment to top of the line playing conditions, all five golf courses have undergone renovation or restoration projects in the last five years. Course conditions can sometimes suffer under the hot south Florida sun, but for the most part, each is well groomed.

If your idea of golf is a serene walk through the woods, Doral isn't the place for you. There's little piece and quiet on the courses. There's the constant whirlwind of airplanes flying overhead to Miami International Airport. The Silver, Gold and Red wind through neighborhoods with some extravagant homes, where residents might be throwing a pool party or mowing their lawn.

Despite the constant distractions in a city filled with never-ending action and entertainment, the golf is still grand.

While the Blue Monster might get the notoriety, the new Great White course is just as good as its partner. These two courses are several notches above the other three, which some people consider too pricey for their quality.

Obviously, the redesigned Great White, which opened in 2000, was named after its designer, "The Shark" himself, Greg Norman.

Norman turned the uninteresting 6,208-yard original white design into a 7,171-yard visual stunner. Each fairway is framed by palm trees and gorgeous white coquina sand, which also doubles as a cart path. This "desert-scape" design is considered to be a one-of-a-kind in the southeast section of the country. As if it wasn't hard enough with water in play on 14 holes, Norman also littered the course with 222 pot bunkers, similar to the style he grew up playing in Australia.

Because it's so difficult, players either love the Great White or hate it. Curtis Pulkrabek, of Barrington, Illinois, who played it recently, said he enjoyed its challenges.

"You need to play position golf," he said. "If you don't, you're in trouble."

The most controversial hole is No. 6, a par-3 that can play anywhere from 128 to 203 yards from the men's tees. The elevated green is like a table top, surrounded by steep slopes that drop some 20 feet. Missing the narrow green makes it almost impossible to chip or putt your ball back onto the putting surface.

No. 8 (a 177-yard par-3) boasts an island green. Holes No. 11, 13 and 17 share a triple green, measuring 25,000 square feet, although a cart path of Astroturf runs through it. Norman used the triple green to conserve land, which helped him add 900 yards to the length of the original design.

THE SILVER COURSE: The silver, a 6,557-yard, par-71, is the only course not right on the resort's main property outside the pro shop. It requires a five-minute shuttle ride to a nearby neighborhood. The course, which wasn't originally owned by Doral, opened in 1984, designed by Bruce Devlin and Bob von Hagge. Once Doral took over, Jerry Pate renovated the design in 1998, bringing it up to resort standards.

Although a bit short by today's standards, the silver is still a beast, with a slope of 131 from the tips. Plenty of hazards -- water on 16 holes, 51 bunkers, numerous elevated greens, and mogels and fairway mounding -- keep players honest. Iron play is the name of the game here.

Water sits directly in front of eight greens, including three of the four par-3s. The 14th hole is the signature test, a 155-yard shot to an island green. Par-4 holes No. 7 (375 yards), No. 13 (437), No. 15 (372) and No. 16 are all similar - water runs along the entire right side of the hole (right-handed slicers beware) and cuts its way into the fairway near the green.

Like every Doral course, bring plenty of balls ... or your A-game.

THE RED: There's a reason the Red Course hosts The Office Depot, a LPGA event. The course is tailor-made for women. Built in 1962, the Red was renovated in 1987 to its current form.

At 6,146 yards from the tips as a par-70, length isn't a problem here, but that doesn't mean the course is a pushover.

Water comes into play on 14 of the 18 holes and many of the greens are elevated, a trademark at Doral, and demand crisp approach shots to score well. Six par-3s (three each nine) and just three par-5s make for an interesting mix. The only drawback is four of the par-3s play to the same distance, about 190 yards from the tips.

Despite the obstacles, the Red is probably best suited for shorter hitters, women and beginners. Good players might be disappointed they paid the price tag for such a course.

The two par-5s on the front are noteworthy - No. 1 is 561 yards and No. 5 is 497 yards - doglegging around large water hazards, but the true test begins on the back, starting at 13. The 13th is short at 354 yards, but water lurks on both sides of the fairway. The 403-yard 18th closes with a 200-yard carry over water to the fairway.

THE GOLD: From the first hole to the final green, water reigns supreme on the Gold Course, which was originally designed by von Hagge in 1968 and then renovated by Floyd in 1995. Water comes into play on sixteen holes of this 6,602-yard, par-70 layout.

No. 18, a 397-yard par-4, provides an incredible climax to the round with an island green. If you don't have a club you're comfortable with in your hand in the fairway, lay up and chip on for a safe bogey.

THE GOLF SCHOOL: Who doesn't want to play better golf? If you're looking to cure that slice or drop that hook, visit the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral, which was rated one of the top 25 golf schools in the country by Golf Magazine. McLean, who was named one of the top 100 teachers in the country by the same magazine, has handpicked his elite staff, which has all the state-of-the-art video equipment and technology at its disposal.

Club fitting specialists are also on-hand to examine your equipment.

"We are in the improvement business," master instructor Debbie Doniger said. "We look at your swing from all different angles to help you get better quicker. In a controlled environment, we take the guess work out of (your training)."

McLean's golf schools are also found at PGA West in La Quinta, California, the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Michigan, and the Weston Hills Country Club in south Florida.

Jason Scott DeeganJason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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