I recently posted about my visit this spring to play the Red course at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Florida -- an incredible piece of property unlike any other you'll find in the Sunshine State. Streamsong opened in 2012 on the site of a former phosphates mine. While so much of Florida -- and Florida golf -- is known for a lack of land movement or elevation change, the thousands of acres on which Streamsong sits are defined by deep lakes and towering sand dunes, windswept vistas, wild vegetation, and prairie grass that dances in the breeze. The resort's Red and Blue courses opened in 2012. The Black course was added in 2017, and today all three courses are ranked among the top 100 public courses in the country.
I was staying off property, so I didn't get to experience the lodge -- which I hear is magnificent. From my father-in-law's place in Lakewood Ranch, I made the hourlong trip to Streamsong on Monday to play the Red and returned on Thursday to play the Black and the Blue. I mention this only to say that if you find yourself in Florida with an opportunity to visit Streamsong, and if you're at all budget-conscious, try to play multiple rounds in one day. Golf at Streamsong is not inexpensive. Resort guests get a break on greens fees, but in April when I played, I believe the resort guest fee was still about $300 plus caddie or cart. And for non-guests like me, it was about $400. But, as I discovered on this particular day, the replay rate is pretty generous, and I paid less than half that for my second round of the day when I moved over to the Blue.
Joining me for my round, once again, was Chico, the same forecaddie I'd played with at the Red on Monday. I was fortunate to have him on the bag (or, techinically, in my cart since I rode) for all three rounds, and that really was a treat. He did a terrific job of giving me the lay of the land and helping me to figure out my way around each of the three courses. He also offered up a couple of swing tips throughout the week that saved my game.
The Black is a really interesting departure from the Red course. Designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, it features some of the most interesting and, perhaps, divisive green complexes at the resort. A friend I'd played with elsewhere in the week told me that he hates the greens on the Black course because they seem to him to be really tricked up. In particular, he mentioned the punchbowl green on No. 9 (pictured above) that in some ways resembles a crater on the moon as much as it does a putting green. Personally, I really enjoyed the course and its wild green shapes and contours for the challenge and aesthetic they create. But I can understand how personal opinions might differ.
Another interesting observation is how different the course plays from the Red. In my earlier blog, I wrote about how so many of the holes on the Red course could be played a number of ways -- through the air or along the ground. Hanse and Wagner's Black design is meant to be played from the sky; there's no two ways about it. Almost every hole features bunkers, waste area, water or some kind of vegetation between the player and the green on the approach shot. There are some holes where a low tee shot might be useful to stay below the wind. But when it comes to finding the green, low, running shots are just not much of an option on most holes here. Interestingly, there's no real rough to speak of on the course. So, you won't always have a fairway lie, but you're just about never really out of the hole, which is key to the playability of this terrific course.
When the course opened, it did so to well-deserved fanfare. Golf Digest named it the best new course in the U.S. It's currently ranked No. 29 on Golf Digest's just-released list of the top 100 public courses in America, No. 39 on Golf Magazine's list of the top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S., and No. 25 among Golfweek's top 100 public courses.
The Black course, which sits apart from the Red and Blue courses at Streamsong and has its own clubhouse, is a brawny par-73 layout that stretches to 7,320 yards from the tips. Four sets of tees -- Green, Black, Silver and Gold -- offer options for players of any skill level with lengths ranging all the way down to just under 5,300 yards. The card also offers combination sets of tees for a total of seven choices for distance and difficulty. I opted to play the Black/Silver combo, which measures 6,462 yards -- right in my comfort zone. I could play the Black tees at about 6,750 yards, but I've become a firm believer in the importance of knowing your game and playing the tees that are best suited to it for maximum enjoyment. (Tip: If you aren't sure which tees are right for you, multiply your average 5-iron distance by 36. In my case, that's 180 x 36 for 6,480 yards. Play from about that distance, whatever it is for you, and you'll enjoy the game more than if you push yourelf and have to play long irons and hybrids into every green.) For the remainder of this blog post, I'll be sharing yardages from the Black/Silver Combo tees unless otherwise noted.
Hole 1 - 508 Yards - Par 5
I was paired for my round on the Black course with a father and his teenage son, a phenomenal high school golfer out of the Washington, D.C. area. The father was a lawyer and a member at Congressional. Nice twosome to play alongside, but they sort of kept to themselves. They were walking with a caddie, and I was content to let them just enjoy their father-son time. Because they'd taken their own caddie, I had Chico's services all to myself.
The first hole on the Black is a reachable par-5 that plays slightly right to left from the tees. Fairway bunkers down the left side dictate that the safe drive is played down the right. But the farther right you play your drive, the more trouble you'll need to carry if you intend to go for the green with your second shot. It's not evident in these pictures, but the fairways on the Black tend to be significantly contoured with mounds and knolls that can make for some really fun shots as you watch your ball roll up and over and around them. But that can also create some interesting lies in the middle of the fairway, so it's always worth asking your caddie or forecaddie where to aim to find yourself not only the best line but also the best lie for your next shot.
Players who can keep their tee shot on the left side while avoiding the fairway bunkers will have the best opportunity to go for this green. It'll still require nerves of steel and likely a fairway wood or hybrid to aim at the left side of the green and play a bit of a fade. But the angle is certainly better than playing from the right side of the fairway, from which your shot to the green would need to carry about 30 yards of sand and vegetation just 50 yards or so in front of the putting surface.
Players who choose for the safe layup will find that the fairway is wide and relatively flat from 130 yards to about 75 yards out from the green -- an ideal place from which to loft a high wedge into this green that slopes predominantly from back to front. Anything that misses the green is likely to be rejected by the little mounds that surround it. There are bunkers immediately behind the green, but it's better to be below the hole anyway, so you're better off clubbing down and being a bit short than muscling up and taking the chance that you could go long.
Hole 2 - 326 Yards - Par 4
No. 2 is a very cool short par-4. It's maybe reachable from the tee for really big bombers who have both the length and the accuracy to take the ball up the left side, through the narrow neck of fairway, and fade one into the green. But it's such a low-margin shot, I'm not sure why anyone would really give it a go. For most of us, the play is a tee shot between 215 and 275 yards to the really wide and welcoming fat of the fairway before the hole begins to turn uphill. Whether that means you play a driver, fairway wood or hybrid, just aim at the windmill in the distance and let it rip to set yourself up with a wedge or short-iron up the hill and over the giant bunkers that sit below this green.
Whatever you do from the fairway on No. 2, carry your second shot to the green. You do not want to be in the sand deep below the putting surface. Since playing here, I've heard a story of a player who attempted four times to get from the bottom of that bunker up to the green, only to finally turn around, play a shot 50 yards back into the fairway, and then hit a wedge up to the green. Though you can't see it from the fairway, the putting surface angles back and follows the land from front-left to back-right. It's only about 25 yards deep at any point, but because of the angle at which it sits, it can be a two-to-three club difference depending on whether the pin is in the front or the back of the green. Distance control is every bit as important as direction on this approach, and maybe even moreso.
Hole 3 - 394 Yards - Par 4
The third hole plays shorter than the distance on the card. The tee shot is blind, as the fairway rises gently for about 220 yards and then the remainder of the hole drops away over the horizon. For those whose tee shots reach the crest of this wide fairway, the reward will be a drive that runs down the hill, setting up a mid- or possibly even a short iron into the green. Waste areas and natural vegetation, as well as a fairway bunker on the right side of the hole near the drop-off are the only dangers off the tee here, so tee it high and let it fly.
The approach shot on No. 3 plays over a lake to a green shaped sort of like a three-blade helicopter rotor. Depending on where the hole is cut, players could have the option to bounce one into this green or may find themselves facing a pin on the left in a little sliver of green tucked behind the long bunker that lines the left side of the entire green complex. Mounds around the edges of the green will generally kick shots toward the center of the putting surface, but players may choose to bail out right or to leave their approach short in order to set up an easy pitch or chip to get it close to the hole for par.
Hole 4 - 550 Yards - Par 5
While the opening hole was a par-5 that players could take advantage of, No. 4 is a beast just waiting to bite into your scorecard and maybe your ego. This long par-4 features a split fairway and a creek that runs the length of the hole, creating a lower fairway on the right and an upper fairway on the left. Big hitters may be tempted to try to carry the waste area to go straight at the upper fairway, but that's a carry of about 260 yards to a very narrow target. The prudent play is to the lower fairway, which is wide with plenty of room to accommodate even the longest drive. The beauty of the Black course, however, is that so long as you avoid the thin ribbon of creek down the middle, your ball is in play and hard to lose, so no matter how you spray it off this tee, you should still have a second shot. Whether or not you like it is another story.
From the lower fairway, players can either take the ball down the right side, laying up to about 165 yards. Or, they can play a longer shot to the upper fairway, which begins to get wider and wider once you get to about 135 yards from the hole. Either way, you're going to have to cross back over the creek and play uphill to the elevated portion of the hole at some point. And the angle from the upper fairway does provide a better view for your approach on the third shot.
From the upper fairway, it's a relatively straightforward shot into this green. The small putting surface is surrounded by mounds, so accuracy is paramount if you hope to sneak in a birdie here on the No. 2-handicap hole on the course. The waste area and bunkers left of the green shouldn't come into play except in the event of a real mishit (a sharp pull for a righty like me). But from this vantage point, a well-played wedge or short-iron could set up a rare birdie, like it did for me.
Hole 5 - 158 Yards - Par 3
By about the time you reach the 5th hole, you realize that it's no accident the degree to which Hanse and Wagner have used elevation changes to create visual deception and to introduce additional challenges into this course. No. 5 is a mid-length par-3 that plays uphill such that it's difficult to see the surface of the green from the tee. Left is the good miss on this hole; short, long or pin-high, left leaves you with options to chip or putt onto this green for a shot at par. Right, on the other hand, will leave you deep in the sand looking at what appears to be a canyon wall, with the green up above your head somewhere. The ideal shot on this hole is the highest-lofted club you can reasonably hit to carry the middle of this green. And par is always going to be a good score here.
Hole 6 - 321 Yards - Par 4
No. 6 is really interesting for what it reveals about the Black course. From the tee, it almost feels like there isn't anywhere you can't hit the ball. The fairway is incredibly wide, and the hole is short. You can hit anything off the tee from a driver to a mid-iron, and you'll not only clear the one fairway bunker on the course, but you're likely to find the short grass and leave yourself no more than a short iron.
But there's the rub. What club is the right club to play into this small, irregularly shaped green. Do you want to hit a 9-iron in and hope you find the putting surface, which is long and narrow, shaped almost like a butter knife? If you miss the green, you're likely to find that no matter where the ball settles you're going to feel like you've short-sided yourself as the ball kicks away long, right and short. So maybe it is better to play the driver, but how confident are you that you can play the right distance with a three-quarter wedge? I wrote earlier that Hanse and Wagner don't give players many options about how to approach the greens on the Black, but the indecision that comes with having too many options from the tee -- and no clear idea which one is right -- may cost you more strokes than any mishit balls that find the sand and waste areas throughout a round here.
Hole 7 - 135 Yards - Par 3
No. 7 is likely to be nothing more than a short-iron shot for most players, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's an easy hole. The green is large, but it's difficult to describe the shape. Best I can come up with is that it looks a bit like one of those small plastic shovels children use to dig on the beach. Or maybe the kind of wide paint brush you'd use to paint your shed? In any event, the green features a long narrow tongue between two large bunkers in the front and then widens out on the back half, which is guarded by three additional bunkers, left, right and long. There is no room to miss the putting surface here. And that's problematic considering the fact that from 135 yards, even PGA Tour pros miss the green more than 20% of the time (Source: Lou Stagner, Golf Stat Pro). So, the play on this green is really to choose the club you can confidently hit to the widest part of the green, and then choose the line that offers you the best possible miss in case you don't pull it off. Play to leave yourself plenty of green to work with if you find yourself in one of the bunkers or collection areas around the green. That may not lead to a birdie, but it'll make it a lot easier to ensure you don't card anything worse than a bogey. And believe me, there are numbers much higher than a 4 to be found on this hole.
A view of the 7th green. You can see here the undulation in the greens, which were in terrific condition despite the fact that I played there not long after the resort's high season ended. That's a real testament to the quality of the superintendent and his team at Streamsong. The greens played firm and fast but were receptive to good shots, which is especially important on the Black course.
Hole 8 - 408 Yards - Par 4
I ran into some technical trouble as I reached the 8th hole and discovered later that the photos I thought I'd taken of the hole did not save. But, we're resourceful here on the IPuttAround blog, so I've lifted some images from Google Maps and the Streamsong Resort website to help make sure you fine readers are able to get a visual sense of the hole.
No. 8 is a really fun par-4 that features one of the largest greens on the golf course. The fairway doglegs gently from left to right, and players who want to try to cut the corner will need to carry the ball 230 yards or more to get over the bunkers on the right side of the fairway. Apart from the two well-defined fairway bunkers, the entire right side of the hole is waste area. It's possible to flare one out in that direction and still find a decent lie, but getting to the green with enough elevation to find the putting surface could be a challenge from the waste area's sandy floor. The ideal drive is a fade aimed up the left side of the hole -- or, at least, left of the fairway bunkers -- that finds the flat area in the fairway just beyond the dogleg.
The approach on No. 8 plays uphill to to a massive green. Take enough club to reach the middle of the green, which slopes predominantly from back to front. This is one of the few holes on the course that gives you the option to run a low shot into the putting surface, but mounding from about 70 yards in makes that a dicey proposition, threatening to hold up or redirect any ball played along the ground.
This image, pulled from a hole flyover available on the Streamsong Resort website, gives you a sense of just how massive the 8th green is -- and how easy it would be to three or four putt it with all of the mounding and undulation. It also gives you a sense of why some players love this Hanse/Wagner design and why some players really, really don't. I read a review in which somebody wrote that Streamsong Black "is a work of art in grafitti." Some people hate grafitti. And some don't like art, either.
Hole 9 - 360 Yards - Par 4
The ninth hole is a straightaway par-4 that plays down a channel of fairway in a sea of sand. Huge waste areas left and right make this wide fairway feel narrower than it really is. At just 360 yards, players may opt to take something other than driver off the tee just to keep the ball in the fairway. But be forewarned -- just hitting the fairway doesn't guarantee a quality lie. The landing zone ripples with mounds and knolls that can make for challenging second shots for those who find themselves on a sidehill, uphill or downhill slope. Players who can hit the ball 220 yards or more off the tee are more likely to find the flattest part of the fairway for the easiest second shot.
The approach on No. 9 plays uphill and over what amounts to a wall of fairway that obscures the entire green, down below, on the other side. There are bunkers short-left and right of the green complex, but so long as you get your ball over that rise in the fairway, you're going to be hard-pressed to miss this green as everything funnels to it. If your caddie took a peek earlier at where the pin is positioned, as you made your way from the second hole to the third, he may be able to give you a more direct line to the flag. But for most folks, the safe play is to aim at the windmill in the distance -- a good target to go at the center of this green -- and fly it the number on the nearest sprinkler head.
This view of the 9th green, taken from the air, gives you a better sense of exactly why some people say it resembles a crater on the moon more than a putting green. It's huge, and you could literally putt up the walls of this green in any direction and watch your ball come back toward the middle. There is quite a bit of undulation on the green itself, so it's not as if the ball just settles in the center of this big punchbowl, but creative short gamers may find some really interesting ways to play their way around this one to achieve their best score.
With nobody right behind us, my playing partners and I all took a little extra time to try a few putts from different points on this extraordinary green. I'd also like to point out the sprinkler head in the green for all those folks I host at Pete Dye Golf Club who remark on the uniqueness of the sprinkler head on our 17th green.
After nine on the Black, it's worth a stop at the halfway house -- the Tin Can, as it's called -- for their Cuban sandwich, a hot dog with chorizo, or the lobster roll if that's more your vibe. They've also got a fantastic chorizo breakfast sandwich, which was my meal of choice, but Chico swears by the Cuban.
Hole 10 - 524 Yards - Par 5
No. 10 may be the best, most exciting par-5 of the Black's five par-5s. At 524 yards, it's a three-shot hole for most players, but for longer or even moderate-length players who are willing to say "risks be damned" and take the most aggressive lines, it's a reachable hole that offers up a realistic chance at birdie or even a rare eagle. The safe line off the tee is down the right side of the fairway. A little bit of a draw might help, too, as the hole bends gently from right to left. The more aggressive line is up the left side, over the waste area and flirting with the two fairway bunkers about 240 yards off the tee. If you can successfully avoid those bunkers and find the fairway, you'll be rewarded with an opportunity to go for the green.
Players who find the waste area are still in the hole here, as they are everywhere on the Black. Given my game, when I play a hole like this and think about the possibility of scoring well, I'm always reminded of the quote from Gandalf the Wizard in "Lord of the Rings": "There never was much hope. Just a fool's hope." I think we all can admit that this is a pretty foolish game we play. Mark Twain even called golf "a good walk spoiled." So, don't lose hope just because your tee shot finds the scraggly stuff. There's still plenty of fool's hope for the foolish here, so find your ball, and swing away! Eagle may be unlikely from from here, but birdie doesn't have to be. I found myself a bit farther up from where this picture was taken and a bit more to the left but still managed to reach the green in regulation and take away a par.
Whether you've found the fairway with your tee shot or your second (or third), you face a largely blind shot into the green. A sea of waste area, grassy islands and bunkers cuts in from the right with the green tucked down below them in the distance.
As this shot from behind the green shows, however, the fairway that does exist in front of the green runs toward the putting surface, which slopes away and to the right. From the fairway, players can take aim at the left side of the green and keep the ball short, running it just onto the front and letting the contours feed the ball to the hole. Doing so is the best way to avoid the trouble short and right and to set yourself up to score.
Hole 11 - 378 Yards - Par 4
The 11th hole is another mid-length par-4 that plays uphill. And it's the first hole on the course -- and one of just a few -- where nearby woodlands actually come into play. Just beyond the waste area on the right, dense trees are in play and just waiting for golfers to slice their Pro-V1s into the darkness of their leaves and branches. Players are also challenged on the tee by the fact that the fairway on No. 11 narrows significantly at about 240 yards with the waste area on the left and fairway bunkers on the right pinching in from both sides. Conservative players may want to take just a 3-wood or hybrid off of this tee to give themselves the best chance of finding the widest part of the fairway.
The approach on No. 11 plays uphill in the direction of the clubhouse. Two deep bunkers front the green complex and present an interesting challenge as the ideal play is just over them to the front of the green, which slopes away. There are collection areas long and right of the green where players can safely bail out to avoid the sand, which may make birdie unlikely but should help to ensure nothing worse than bogey.
Hole 12 - 531 Yards - Par 5
No. 12 is an uphill par-5 that plays a bit longer than the yardage on the card due to the elevation change. The ideal drive is played up the left side of the fairway, away from the trees and the fairway bunkers on the right side of the hole. The green complex is essentially an island in the middle of the waste area, and there is a stretch of sand that crosses where the fairway runs out about 50 yards short of the green. So, it's unlikely many folks are going for this green in two. With that in mind, tee off with whatever club you're most confident can help you find the fairway to set up your layup second shot.
From the fairway, unless you've hit a real cannon ball off the tee and you've got another in the bag, it's really just a matter of playing to a distance from which you can comfortably hit your approach shot through the air to the green. Be very mindful, though, of the two pot bunkers in the center of the fairway about 100 yards out from the green. If that's your favorite distance, play to the right side of the fairway with your layup. Otherwise, consider playing short or long of those bunkers to give yourself the widest bit of fairway to which to lay up.
Laying up short of the fairway bunkers will result in a longer shot into this green, but you'll still likely be playing a wedge or short iron from a fairway lie.
The green on 12 slopes from back to front and should hold most shots. Be aware, though, of the mounds on the green, which could create some unpredicatble bounces. Also, be sure to take enough club to cover the waste area that sweeps in from the right and cuts in front of the right half of the green. Playing to the back of this green is not a bad way to set yourself up for an easy par and possibly a birdie.
Hole 13 - 368 Yards - Par 4
The 13th hole is just a really cool mid-length par 4. Two greens -- one left and one right -- mean this hole can play to different lengths and that the strategy for playing the hole may differ significantly from day to day. A 65-yard-long snaking bunker winds its way up the center of the fairway, forcing players to choose whether to play to the left or right side, to lay up short of it, or to try to bomb one out beyond the bunker (though that strategy has its perils, too, as the fairway begins to narrow just past the serpentine fairway bunker).
The day I played the course, the left bunker was in use, sitting back, tucked over a deep bunker and nestled against the treeline beyond. The right green, just for reference, is situated just over the waste bunker and grass islands you can see on the right edge of this photo. Playing from right of the fairway bunker here offers up an open look into this green without much trouble. The green still isn't particularly receptive to low, running shots, however, as the mounding around it will try to route anything on the ground to the right, below the green. For those who play left of the serpentine bunker, the hole plays longer and more uphill on the second shot.
Hole 14 - 286 Yards - Par 4
At just 286 yards and with no real trouble directly in front of the green, unless you're fighting a hook you just can't control, No. 14 is a greenlight to stand on the tee, aim at the right half of the green, and just send it. The hole plays uphill, so it does play longer than the yardage on the card, but it's still in reach for long hitters, and there is plenty of room to miss the green and still leave yourself just a chip or short pitch. For those who do go left, though, the lie could be pretty dicey in the waste area that runs the entire left side of the hole. If you have to play something other than driver to stay right and ensure yourself a lie in the fairway, there's no shame at all in that.
Sadly, I popped my drive almost straight up on 14 -- probably too excited about giving this hole everything I've got and swinging a bit too fast. Still, it left me just a lob wedge into the green. The green is really where the fun begins on this hole. You can see here how the hole turns uphill to the putting surface, and how it drops off to all sides and in unpredictable directions all around the green. The green itself is undulating and shallow, too, so there isn't much room to go long or leave it short. At less than 300 yards, this hole is both more challenging and more fun than it appears.
Hole 15 - 131 Yards - Par 3
No. 15 is a scoring opportunity provided you find the correct zone on this wide green with your short-iron tee shot. The green basically has four distinct tiers -- left, right, front and back. Balls played to the correct tier will tend to funnel toward the flag, but balls that find any of the other three tiers will roll away from the hole. On this particular day, the pin was on the left side of the green. And if you can zoom in on this photo you may be able to see that one member of our group hit it pretty close. I was not that member. My ball found the middle of the green and spun back from the ridge between the back and front tiers. It gained speed as it zipped down into the lower front tier, and then it kept rolling back, right off the green and into a little collection area. That left me with a very delicate chip over the sand that I did not execute particularly well, demonstrating how quickly dreams of a birdie can turn into a double bogey on even the shortest of holes when you underestimate the challenges of dynamic green complex.
Hole 16 - 400 Yards - Par 4
The 16th hole is a par-4 that doglegs maybe 75-degrees from right to left. The ideal tee shot is a draw played up the middle that turns with the dogleg as it passes the corner and sets up an approach shot from the left side of the fairway. Off the tee, there's no particular trouble apart from the waste area, and you're probably used playing from there by this point in your round. There are a few fairway bunkers on the left, but a drive of just 190 yards or so will easily clear those, so they likely aren't a danger to most players.
The approach shot on No. 16 plays to a deep green perched just over and alongside the waste area encroaching from the right. Dense trees line the last 100 yards or so of the hole on the right, so the safe miss is definitely left of this green. Conveniently, the land also slopes from left to right here, so balls played left of the green may actually find the putting surface. As a general rule, the shorter the club in your hand, the more license you have to go pin hunting; the longer the club in your hand, the more you should aim left of the flag and focus on just playing the right distance.
Hole 17 - 189 Yards - Par 3
No. 17 is the longest par-3 on the Black course, stretching out to nearly 200 yards, almost all of which is a carry over the waste area that extends from the teeing ground to just short of the green complex. Bunkers encircle more than half of the green, beginning front-right and extending all the way around to the back-left. The land near the green and the green itself slopes predominantly from left to right. The smart play here may be to aim for the left side of the green (or even a bit left of the green) and land short, letting the slope carry the ball toward the center of the putting surface. This green is one of the least-undulating on the course, so simply finding the putting surface off the tee may be enough to assure yourself at least a par.
Hole 18 - 495 Yards - Par 5
Apart from the creek that crosses in front of the green on No. 3 and then runs up the length of hole No. 4, there isn't really water to speak of on the Black course. Until you get to the 18th hole, that is. This fun par-5 is reachable, playing uphill off the tee and then setting up either a really dramatic go-for-broke shot across the lake or a couple of more conservative shots around it. Bunkers running along practically the entire right side of the 18th hole suggest that the safest play off the tee is a drive down the left side of the fairway. But players who want to go for this green may want to take a more aggressive line with their driver in hand, flirting with disaster in pursuit of glory.
After the uphill tee shot, the fairway decends to the left of the bunkers, and conservative players will likely find that this hole is a relatively easy par or bogey at worst if they simply lay up down the left side and play a wedge into this green. From here, though, sitting just a little over 200 yards from the green with hybrid in your hands, it's hard not to imagine the excitement of striking your ball as purely as you did that one time at the range. Besides, you didn't come all the way to the middle-of-nowhere, Florida, to lay up on the 18th hole, did you? So, you swing that hybrid like you know you can. Now, in my case, I yanked it way left and wound up playing it like a long lay up anyway. But you? I'm confident you'd knock it right onto the green and sink the eagle putt. If you're going to take your shot, though, it's worth knowing that the green is shallow and wide. Holding it at this distance may be difficult, but long is definitely better than short. The green also breaks largely from back-right to front-left, so be aware that a ball into the bunkers behind and right of the green will run away from you on the comeback shot. But, hey ... nobody said achieving glory was supposed to be easy, right?
All in all, I really enjoyed the Black course. It's dramatically different from the Red, and that's part of what makes it a great addition to the other two courses on property at Streamsong. Hanse and Wagner have given us a test here of the mental game as much as the physical. It's not just about whether you can execute all the shots; it's knowing which shots to even attempt as you make your way around the course. I get why some folks don't love the Black, but I had a really fun time playing it and enjoyed the thought and creativity that went into its design as well as into the shotmaking it requires to play well there.Coming soon ... part 3 of my blog about Streamsong, where I'll cover my round on the Blue course.