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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Donald Trump’s purchase of the former Doral Resort in South Florida signaled the end of what had turned into a dreary location for the WGC Cadillac Championship.
What had once been one of the most difficult courses in America, the Blue Monster now was no more than one difficult hole (#18) and 17 others that led to scores routinely in the 20 under par range. Indeed, the property looked old and outdated and the fan experience had dropped significantly.
Enter Donald Trump and his $200+ million investment into the property to overhaul all of the property’s golf courses, hotel rooms, spas, and buildings. Where once boring stairways stood, now stands marble-floored and golden-handled stairs into the clubhouse. Massive crystal chandeliers hang throughout the interior.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, was to the course itself. Now, the Blue Monster features a challenge that can drive even the most experienced and level headed golfer into a slow descent into madness, all making for a brilliantly exciting tournament.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
No matter where you go, the WGC Cadillac Championship has no shortage of food options. Whether you want to sample some authentic food from the world famous Versailles restaurant right there off the main fan walkway, or you prefer to sip on some Moet Champagne, you will find what you're looking for.
Of course the basics are still available in burgers, hot dogs, and chicken, but the course also features more luxurious fare if you wish to take a walk on the fancier side of life. There is also a Beers Around the World booth.
If nothing on the course seems to satisfy your needs, the clubhouse and lobby houses several eating choices. BT Prime Steakhouse occupies the upper level of the clubhouse behind the lobby and check-in area, featuring an outdoor sitting option that overlooks the putting green and first tee and fairway.
Downstairs is another upscale restaurant as well as a small coffee/snack bar, and an outdoor patio restaurant.
Golf seems to many to be among the more hoity-toity sports, but I can guarantee you that it isn't the case at Doral. Sure, you get your fair share of people dressed in the fanciest of suits and designer dresses, but you get just as many people wearing t-shirts and jeans.
At the same time, you will see fans of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world walking the course throughout the weekend.
Got a favorite player? Everyone will let you know who theirs is whenever they make a great shot.
The best part of the atmosphere is the audible excitement throughout the event. Yet at the same time, attending the WGC Cadillac Championship feels like the most relaxing sports experience there is. With the increased difficulty of the redesigned course comes the increased possibility of a golfer's shot finding its way off course and into the gallery, meaning you will likely have a front row seat to their next shot.
Perhaps the most undervalued change to this course is the great sightlines the Blue Monster now holds. At several locations, fans can stand in one spot and see no less than four holes at once. One of the more popular spots that features a beach on the edge of a lake and a new grandstand allows fans to see the green for #14, all of #15, and all of #16.
Amphitheater style mounds surround several greens giving fans in the back rows a great opportunity to see what is happening on course.
With Cadillac as the sponsor of the tournament, their presence is felt everywhere. The Cadillac Experience has gone from a small platform in between the #1 and #18 fairways that shows off a few new cars to a massive, enclosed experience that includes putting challenges, the latest car technology, and even a second level bar and viewing platform.
For fans who want a taste of the VIP experience, but cannot afford a VIP ticket, there are several VIP tents and viewing locations that are open to ALL fans. The Grey Goose Lounge is open to all ticket holders with clubhouse access and features up close views of the #9 tee box.
For veterans, there is even a VIP section exclusively for current and former service members and their families.
Trump National Doral was once located in the middle of nowhere back when it was first built. Now, thanks to urban expansion, the neighborhood around it has extended far past the golf course's boundaries. That said, the area is in a state of flux.
What once was a more corporate-industrial location now also houses luxury resorts and housing nearby. Where the old White Course once stood now comes the hum of construction as high-end housing and resorts take its place.
Since the golf course is situated on Trump National Doral's sprawling property, it could technically pass for being its own neighborhood, full with a resort, places to stay, places to eat, and lots of beautiful people at the luxury pools and gardens.
Golf fans are among the most passionate in all of sports. There aren't many things that make your hairs stand on end like the roar of a massive golf crowd when an athlete sinks a long putt or aces a hole-in-one on a tournament day.
Additionally, how can you not appreciate their courteous and kind demeanor? After all, the golf clap is now used as a respectful way of appreciation. But don't get me wrong, they know how to party.
What Trump National Doral lacks in access it makes up in ease for fans visiting the tournament. General parking for fans (and even media and volunteers) is off site during the golf tournament, but fans who park there are given a free luxury bus ride from their parking lot directly to the entrance of the tournament's gates.
Located right off of the Florida Turnpike on a main roadway in Doral, Trump National Doral is hard to miss when driving by. It's beautifully manicured entrance and foliage stands out with great affect. There are also plenty of signs and helpful law enforcement on hand directing traffic to help you get to where you want to go.
If you want to park a little closer for a quicker exit, most every possible parking space within a mile of the course is available during the tournament week as a pay-for-parking location.
Tickets for the WGC Cadillac Championship are not massively expensive, and anyone who signs up for their newsletter will be sent plenty of ticket discounts throughout the year.
In addition to the golf tournament, there is certainly something to be said about the quality time this affords families looking for a nice day outside enjoying professional sports.
From shopping in the PGA Tour store to exploring the newly renovated Trump National Doral resort, the WGC Cadillac Championship affords fans the chance to see their athletes up close and personal.
As if the golf tournament wasn't enough, the week leading up to and including the WGC Cadillac Championship is full of fun.
First off, who can say no to meeting "The Donald" himself?! Yes, Donald Trump can be seen roaming the course throughout the week, and it is safe to say he is one of the more gracious celebrities when it comes to signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.
Additionally, the Trump helicopter sits on its helipad located between the #8 green and #9 tee, allowing fans to come right up to the machine and snap a picture with it.
There is also a yearly Ivanka Trump fashion show that features the latest in high fashion.
If you are looking for a more lively party, there is always the concert that fans are able to attend. In 2013, it was former Black Eyes Peas member Taboo, and the 2015 tournament featured Carlos Santana.
Getting autographs is also easy, as most golfers walk along the rope lines by the clubhouse after their rounds to greet the fans.
Finally, if you want to get the chance to watch your favorite players and glean some hot tips, make your way over to the putting green, driving range, and chipping greens for an up-close view of how the pros practice.
For fans who have always wanted to see what it was like to visit a professional golf tournament, the WGC Cadillac Championship is a wonderful opportunity for them to do so. Featuring the best golfers from professional tours around the world, this tournament held on the Trump National Doral Blue Monster course is certainly one that is only going to grow in popularity. With continued whispers of a potential LPGA, US Open, or PGA Championship date, this is becoming one of, if not the best stops on the tour.
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