OK, read on with care. I’m waxing up, flexing the pecs and hacking at my old Levis with a pair of scissors. Why? Because Donald Trump has set me a problem. Make that two. What to pack for Miami today and how much body hair to remove?
Before the acquisition of Doral by the Don, who subsequently renamed the venue after himself, of course – Trump National Doral Miami Resort – home to this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship, neither question came up.
The country club atmosphere around which golf in America has evolved has traditionally allowed for the incursion by normal folk across their bespoke lawns whenever a professional tournament moved in for the week. This has typically meant turning a blind eye to men in bad shorts and oversized polo shirts as they swig their beer on the premises while echoing rowdy incantations like “get in the hole”, “you da man” or “go gettem Tiger”.
All that is about to change. The Trumpster threatens an act of glamorisation hitherto unseen on the golf course by bringing South Beach to the outpost of Doral, a suburb tucked away behind the airport to the north west of Downtown Miami. This entrepreneurial Adonis of unimaginable blondness and seemingly unfailing wealth, has thrown his sons (two) and daughter at the project and brought out of retirement one Butch Buchholz, who pioneered the sexing up of tennis in South Florida at the annual Sony Open.
For some time now the big idea in global sport has been to tag an event to a major international city, to make it more than a contest between protagonists, the outcome of which is only a matter for the priesthood of devoted fans. In order to milk the punters drier and to attract broadcasters and major sponsors, events must now possess something called “crossover potential” with the ability to attract a neutral, hopefully younger and sexier crowd to the party.
Having shelled out a whopping $150m (£90m) to buy the real estate and a further $250m to revamp the course and complex, the Don is all over the idea of transforming Doral into a South Beach barrio for the first week of March. This involves a series of set-piece manoeuvres both on the waterfront and on the course designed to connect golf more readily with glamour.
So, according to the Miami Herald, I can look forward to “a vodka-infused cocktail party at a swank South Beach club. A glitzy fashion show featuring Carolina Herrera. A Travie McCoy concert. And a VIP lounge (erected behind the 16th green), where women in stilettos will be escorted in chauffeur-driven Escalades.”
Crikey, I shall have to rethink the shorts and trainers look or I might not be allowed on to the premises. Not easy when you are some way past the optimum age for the kind of impression management that passes for routine practice in the art deco streets of South Beach. I have only just restored equilibrium after my introduction to Miami’s unique cultural norms more than a decade ago.
Dispatched to accompany Lennox Lewis on a boat trip up the Miami River before a world title fight, I was invited to kill a few hours with his manager and promoter Frank Maloney. Here was a bloke planning to run for London mayor so the lack of a sense of proportion was an ally in an environment quick to expose any feelings of inferiority.
Suffice it to say Frankie boy was not the least threatened by the sight of young men twice his height with exaggerated musculature, perfect hair and immaculate nails powering along the prom on their inline skates wearing nothing but foreshortened denim. He did have a word for these buffed tyros as they brought their wheels to an abrupt halt in front of him in order to re-inflate the pectolaris major via 20 beautifully executed press-ups, but protocols of the age forbid its repetition here.
It was, I can tell you, a rum experience and one that I was not disappointed to leave behind. Now I have to face it all over again. Golf enters this new world tomorrow night when players and VIPs (still waiting for my invite) convene at, wait for it… the “Opening Drive” party at Hyde Beach. This fusion of chino and cocktail, the Herald tells us breathlessly, features among a number of luxury diversions; “Cadillac displays, sushi from Katsuya, a Japanese restaurant in South Beach and culinary options from Bazaar, a restaurant at the SLS Hotel.”
The fun continues on Fashion Friday with a show hosted by Trump’s golden daughter, Ivanka, and headlined by the designs of Carolina Herrera. DJ Irie is spinning the tunes. Around the fringes of this dazzling Doral jamboree, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and a collection of the world’s finest golfers will be invited on Thursday to contest the second WGC event of the season. Hope they don’t get in the way.