Friday, March 2, 2018

On Site: Trump National Doral Miami

In the past twenty years, I've visited the resort "formerly known as the Doral Golf Resort and Spa" more than a half dozen times. My most recent visit to the property (now named Trump National Doral Miami) was the first time after the Trump Organization spent more than $250 million modernizing and dramatically enhancing this legendary 800-acre resort.

To say I was blown away by the enhancements would be a vast understatement. Trump National Doral Miami definitely lives up to all the hype. From impeccable landscaping at every glance to common areas in the main building brimming with gold appointments, stunning chandeliers and plush Italian marble, the Trump's have literally created a "new" resort. 

Heck, I hardly even recognize the old place. That's a great thing, believe me.

If you're looking for the quintessential luxury Florida golf experience, Trump National delivers in sense of place, wonderfully maintained golf courses, great food and in numerous other ways.


Make no mistake, the golf courses were not an afterthought in the enhancement program. Top notch designer Gil Hanse was brought in to revamp the Blue Monster and provide consultation on the other courses. Hanse is masterful at creating lots of challenge for the best golfers in the world and fun, playable holes for mid-handicapper resort players.

No matter how bad you play on a Hanse course, you don't walk away blaming the designer. If you're honest, like the Guru, you blame your lack of concentration, poor set-up and inconsistent swing.

Trump National Doral has four championship 18-hole golf courses. There's something for every skill level. If you don't have a skill level or you want to take your game to another level, the on-site Rick Smith Golf Performance Center is amazing with its high-tech gadgetry.

Blue Monster--One of my favorite courses to play in Florida, the Blue Monster was enhanced by Gil Hanse in 2014. It's still long, it's still tough, but Hanse requires more than length to score well. He re-evaluated and re-sculpted every hole assuring golfers of great shot angles and lots of high risk, high reward possibilities. One thing Hanse didn't change is the routing of the celebrated 18th hole with water skirting the entire left side. It's arguably, the best individual hole in Florida.

Golden Palm--Gil Hanse and his team put their design magic on this links-style layout that has open vistas, contoured greens, superb green complexes and innovative bunkering. It's named after the predominate tree that dots the course. One of the most intriguing design aspects is the bunkering. Hanse puts some heavy rough behind the back side of many bunkers, which presents a great challenge.

Red Tiger--This is a shotmaker's layout where you need a good strategy on each hole not brute strength off the tee. Fourteen of the holes have some sort of water feature and there are two island greens (No. 6 and No. 14). It's target golf, yes, but not overly penal. If you're having a good ball striking day, you'll do fine.

Silver Fox--If you like water, not necessarily landing in it, you'll enjoy this layout that has the liquid stuff on 16 of the 18 holes. It has a good mix of holes with elevated tee boxes and greens and you'll need to keep your sand wedge accessible because there are some very strategically placed bunkers.

Rick Smith Golf Performance Center

Opened in January 2018, this state-of-the-art instruction facility is headed by Rick Smith, who has tutored the likes of Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus during his long and storied career. I interviewed Rick at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando recently and he's tremendously excited about his facility at Trump National Doral. The affable Smith is a great communicator and he instructs his staff to make the learning process fun and productive. The facility incorporates four indoor hitting bays and a fifth for evaluation and club fitting as well as a practice tee and short game area. The vibe at Rick Smith Golf Performance Center is easy going, helpful and non-intimidating. Whether you're a beginner or professional wanting to take the next step, this is an exceptional facility.


The accommodations encompass 643 total guest rooms, 14 deluxe suites, 27 premier suites, 2 presidential suites and 48 spa suites. The rooms are situated in villa-like lodges. I stayed in the Arnold Palmer lodge and others are named after golf icons like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Gary Player and Sam Snead.

My Deluxe Room (343 square feet) had a balcony overlooking the 18th green of the Blue Monster.  Stylish and elegant, the room has soft, neutral colors, gold appointments, mahogany veneers and walls dotted with vintage photographs of Arnold Palmer.

10 Little Things I Liked

1. The gigantic American Flag positioned behind the 18th green of the Blue Monster golf course.

2. The efficient valet and bellman services at check-in and check-out.

3. My guest room located in the Arnold Palmer Villas building with its amazing collection of vintage photographs of Arnie and his friends.

4. My room's spacious balcony overlooking the Blue Monster. Loved sipping a smooth Cab while watching the golfers finishing on one of the toughest holes anywhere.

5. The plush European bedding and six, yes six, big fluffy pillows.

6. The gold fixtures in my bathroom with granite countertops and marble flooring.

7. The phenomenal Rainfall Shower Head with strong water pressure.

8. The Natura Bisse Diamond Collection bath amenities.

9. The calamari with citrus/habanero sauce and ice cold Corona Light I had at the pool bar on my first day.

10. The Grilled Bacon appetizer at the resort's BLT Prime restaurant. An amazing dish of double cut bacon, parsley, garlic and sherry vinaigrette.


BLT Prime--An upscale steakhouse with a phenomenal view of the Blue Monster golf course. I dined here one night and had an exceptional meal. While the Guru generally opts for the biggest steak on the menu, I'm watching the waistline so I opted for the grilled jumbo shrimp in basil oil. It was exceptional. For desert, absolutely, positively, don't miss the peanut butter chocolate mousse with banana ice cream. Amazing!

Champions Bar & Grill--Upscale sports bar with plush leather seats and polished wood appointments. It's a great place for a post round libation. It has an all-day menu and outdoor patio seating. Lots of variety on the menu. You can get anything from a 16 oz. half bone-in ribeye to fish tacos and kale salad.

Palm Grill--Great poolside restaurant with al fresco dining and a menu dotted with specialties like fish tacos, Cuban sandwich, local Cerviche and shrimp Acapulco style.

Marketplace--A convenient, small grab-and-go place with coffee, pastries, sandwiches, wines and other beverages. Need coffee before you hit the links? This should be your preferred stop.


CityPlace Doral--Located about five blocks from the resort (about a $5 Uber ride), this one year-old shopping and entertainment complex is perfect for those who want to slip off the resort campus for a night. It has live music on its plaza every Friday and Saturday night and restaurants such as Brimstone Woodfire Grill, Cooper's Hawk Winery/Restaurant and Cabo Flats Cantina & Tequila Bar. There's also a Cinebistro and Kings Bowling Alley.

Miami International Mall--Four miles from the resort, this mall has 140 stores and 22 eateries.

Hialeah Racing & Casino--Situated about 5 miles from Trump National Doral is the historic Hialeah Race Track, which features horse racing, live entertainment and a casino with slots and poker tables.


Set in the town of Doral near the Miami International Airport, 15 miles west of downtown Miami, the resort is located at 4400 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33178. 


For more information click or call toll-free (800) 71-DORAL (36725)


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    1. The above unknown is me, just got a new phone and still learning. My name is Lewis Amberg, and I am the individual working here as a caddie again as of December 2018. This place is beautiful !!!!

  12. I am a caddie that now works here. Thus is the 2nd time I have worked here. I worked here 20 years ago. And again, now.
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