Frustrated golfers have rarely referred to the legendary course at the Doral Resort and Spa as "heavenly." Indeed the challenging -- often treacherous -- 7125-yard course is commonly known by its decidedly unsaintly nickname: the Blue Monster. This week, though, the Monster should be on its best behavior when it hosts the ninth annual Ryder-Benjamin Memorial Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Barry University Scholarship Fund.Barry is the state's largest Catholic-affiliated institution and it wouldn't be a good idea to, well, cross the church. Or, for that matter, Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, Barry's famously enthusiastic president. Sister Jeanne herself will be on the green, joining alumni, community business leaders, local celebrities like Don Shula, and anyone else wanting to tee up.
Competitors won't only be playing for a good cause. Nor will they be playing -- forgive us, Sister Jeanne -- just for the hell of it. Lots of prizes will be auctioned and raffled off, including a Harley-Davidson leather jacket, resort vacation stays, and dinners at such culinary emporiums as Joe's Stone Crab and Chef Allen's.
And then, of course, there's the thrill of literally taking a shot at the Monster, which has hosted -- and bedeviled -- professionals like Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Tiger Woods. It's unlikely -- really, really unlikely -- that Norman's course record of 62 will be threatened by anyone at this year's Ryder-Benjamin. But let's say you get to the 18th and final hole. How to play it? Those in the know will tell you: Drive the ball to the middle of the fairway, eluding the bunkers to the left and right, then make sure, with your approach shot, to clear the sliver of water in front of the green. Or you could just walk up to the tee and let 'er rip. Who knows? Maybe the Monster will get in the spirit of the proceedings and give up a "hole-y" one. Tee off at 12:30 p.m. Call 305-899-3185. -- Gaspar González
Drink beer and reel in big fish (or Hooters girls!) at the Miami Billfish Tournament going on from Thursday through Sunday. Anglers can hop on boats, which leave from Miami Beach Marina, and drop a line for dolphin, tuna, wahoo, and more to win cash prizes and merchandise. Tournament events include silent auctions, raffle drawings for a 25-foot fishing boat with trailer, and live music. Families, in particular, will enjoy Hooters Day on Friday when real live Hooters girls serve free wings to all participants. Last year tournament officials doled out more than $150,000 to winners. This time new awards include a $5000 check for heaviest dolphin. Nominally a pro-marine-conservation event, the contest counts beer and boating companies among its sponsors and has donated about $250,000 over the past decade to marine-conservation organizations. Entry fees start at $200 per person. Call 305-598-2525. -- Forrest Norman
Pigskin Office Party
Football league flattens frustrations
The Miami Sports & Social Club is recruiting members for its men's 4-on-4 flag football league. Individuals and companies can sign up for an eight-game season, the perfect cover for groping your boss or decking your assistant. The game is a football variant where pulling off a Velcroed flag from an opposing player's waist replaces tackling -- a great way to exercise, or to paw at co-workers without risking messy sexual harassment claims. The club has coed flag football leagues, but this is its first men-only season (so you win no matter what team you, er, play for). Teams scrimmage Sundays at Tropical Park (7900 Bird Rd.). Registration deadline is Thursday, April 3. Fees are $65 for Miami Sports & Social Club members, $85 for guests, and $350 for teams of up to eight people. To register, call 305-752-0302 or log on to www.tmssc.com for information. -- Forrest Norman
Egrets and gators and man
Pictures, videos, and travel journals can never capture the serenity and beauty of the Florida Everglades. The fluffy clouds, pristine pools of brackish water, and marshy vegetation thick with birds and other wildlife all contribute to the park's magical charm. Flamingo and Eco Pond, located at the southernmost tip of the national park, can overwhelm the senses. It's something one has to experience in order to fully appreciate. This Sunday may be your chance to see the Glades for yourself by joining the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and Footprint Expeditions on a day-long journey through Flamingo. Expert naturalists lead the trek through lush trails to observe animals and wading birds in their natural habitat. They will also discuss how man's presence in the area has affected the Everglades' fragile balance. Just remember to bring bug spray, sunscreen, a good hat, and crocodile repellent. The expedition begins at 9:00 a.m. and costs $45 or $35 for HMSF members. Call 786-390-9737 for rendezvous location. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
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