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Hottest hand in golf design unveils new Doral rendering to players, scribes

By Steve Elling | Senior Golf Columnist

DORAL, Fla. -- We have seen the future.

And it looks pretty cool.

Gil Hanse, arguably the busiest golf architect around these days, unveiled his blueprint for the restoration project at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa for a few media slugs on Saturday, a project that's planned to begin next spring.

Plastic surgery is all the rage in South Florida, so imagine the famous old Dick Wilson design, which has hosted the PGA Tour since 1962, with some stretches, nips and tucks. The New Blew Monster's routing footprint remains effectively unchanged, though greens will be rebuilt and enlarged, and some lakes will be moved to bring them into play on approach shots.

It was long overdue.

Hanse, 48, who this week was named as the designer of the Olympics golf venue in Rio de Janiero, has had a whirlwind few days. The morning after he was named the winner of the Rio design derby, he was introduced with new Doral owner Donald Trump, who is funding the course makeover.

Hanse will be moving from his office outside Philadelphia to Rio to oversee the Olympics project personally, but not to worry -- there are direct flights daily to Miami.

"A couple of times a day," he laughed.

Looking ahead, one of the biggest visual differences will come on the green complexes. There are large areas of thick Bermuda rough between the greens and edges of bunkers, and those will be largely erased. The greens will get bigger, and the collars will shrink, meaning more traps will come into play on tight pin placements.

Rather than just stretch the holes with new tees, Hanse said he focused on producing a variety of attack angles by moving bunkers around, both in the fairway and around the greens. God forbid that players have to actually think rather than just whale away, huh?

"I think the way to make things more difficult is to give them more options and get away from just the muscle-memory style of play," Hanse said.

Down the stretch, the revision on the par-4 16th could prove entertaining in future years. A lake will be expanded, bringing it to the edge of a green that will be drivable in one big tee shot for some, if the wind is right. This cutting off the dogleg and gunning for the green off the tee will need to carry the ball about 290 yards to carry the relocated lake.

The laughably easy first hole, a downwind par-5 that players have been reaching in two with wedges for their approach shots, will have a creek fronting the green and will play closer to 610 yards. This week, it's listed at about 513.

Being proactive, Hanse took advantage of his access to the world's best players this week, meeting with guys like Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson and showing them the renderings of the makeover. The project will begin immediately after the 2013 Cadillac Championship is completed.

Clearly, something needs to change.Once a feared track on tour, the Blue Monster has become defenseless without a 30 m.p.h. wind. The second round on Friday included a 62 and two 64s, despite a 20mph breeze.

 
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