Through the years, I've been all over the state of Florida. I've vacationed from St. Augustine to the Keys. I've driven across the panhandle, all the way down I-95, across Alligator Alley and up the Tamiami Trail. I've spent time on Marco Island and Siesta Key, visited Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Aquarium and Mickey Mouse at Disney World. From Tallahassee to Gainesville to Naples to Pensacola ... I've seen Florida. So believe me when I tell you that there is no place else in the Sunshine State that looks or feels like Streamsong Resort.
Located about an hour and a half south, southwest of Orlando and maybe an hour southeast of Tampa, Streamsong Resort feels like it's about as remote as it gets in Florida. There are no nearby interstate highways. Or cities. Or really even towns. The resort is technically in Bowling Green, Florida, though Bowling Green is a solid 20-minute drive from the resort. Truthfully, I made the trip between Streamsong and my father-in-law's place in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, a couple of times when I visited this spring, and I saw almost as many alligators as cars on the back roads I had to drive to get there.
A former phosphate mine stretching across thousands of acres, the resort opened with a lodge and two golf courses -- the Red and the Blue -- in 2012. Until just recently, it was owned by the Mosaic Company, the phosphates producer that had mined the land for much of the last century. More than 100 years of mining had unearthed mountains of sands and created valleys left the land unlike just about any other you'll find in Florida.
In the early 2000s, when Mosaic sought to find a way to reclaim the property in an economically and environmentally sustainable way, the idea of Streamsong Resort was born. The company put in place plans to build a grand lodge and brought in some of the most renowned golf course architects of the last couple of decades -- Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to build the Red and Tom Doak to build the Blue to help bring the vision to life. What they found when they visited the property was an incredible dunescape that was ripe for the creation of golf courses that would stand out from anything else in the state and that could rival the best golf courses in the country. And a few years later, Streamsong opened a third course -- the Black -- designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. The result is an incredible resort with three of the best publicly accessible golf courses in the U.S. And a short course and two-acre putting course -- The Chain and the Bucket -- designed by Coore and Crenshaw is scheduled to open this year.
In January 2023, looking to strike while the sport of golf is experiencing a post-COVID boom, Mosaic sold the property -- more than 7,000 acres in total -- to KemperSports, which had been operating the golf courses under a management contract since day one and had taken over management of the rest of the resort for Mosaic in 2021. KemperSports owns or manages dozens of world-class golf properties, including such notable destinations as the courses at Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley.
I visited Streamsong this spring and was fortunate to have the opportunity to play all three of the championship layouts. Fair to say, they exceeded my expectations. In order to give each its due, I'm going to break this blog up into three parts, beginning with Part One -- The Red.
Streamsong Red is often considered the best course at the resort. A Coore and Crenshaw design that captures their creativity, genius for understanding shotmaking across widely different player skill levels, and philosophy about uncovering -- rather than manufacturing -- great golf holes. The course currently ranks 20th on Golf Digest's list of the top-100 public courses in America. It is No. 86 on Golf Magazine's rankings of the top 100 golf courses (private and public) and No. 19 on that publication's list of the top 100 public courses in the U.S. And, it is No. 19 on Golfweek's list of the top 100 public courses in the States. Bill Coore has called the property "some of the most unusual, interesting and dramatic landforms we have ever encountered," and the course he and Ben Crenshaw have brought forth from the sand certainly captures that drama as it winds among the dunes and around the lakes and bunkers that define the Red.
From the tips, the Red course stretches to 7,110 yards. And that's basically about 100 feet above sea level, which means the ball doesn't carry quite as far there as it does where I play around Pittsburgh or at my home course in the mountains of West Virginia. For most of us, it's all the course you want to chew on and then some. for my part, I played from the Black tees, at 6,537 yards. And for the purposes of this blog post, yardages will be listed from those tees unless otherwise specified.
I met up with my playing companions and our forecaddie, Chico, near the practice green. During peak season, over the winter, Streamsong is a walking-only facility, but once the heat and humidity hit, the resort allows carts. I was glad for that as I was still in physical therapy post-ankle surgery. And I got the sense my playing partners for the day -- three older gentlemen from Philadelphia -- were happy to be riding, too.
Hole 1 - Par 4 - 417 Yards
The view from the first tee told us a lot about the course we were going to encounter throughout our round. I didn't have my camera ready to snap a photo, but we watched as a large alligator made its way across the fairway in the distance while the group ahead played a bit farther down the hole. The gator had come from behind the tall dunes on the right and ultimately disappeared behind the dunes on the left. As Chico explained, that should tell us that there was water we couldn't see in both directions, hidden behind those dunes. The hole itself, a long, straight par-4, serves as something of a land bridge between two large bodies of water. The tee shot requires a short carry over the lake that ultimately winds its way off to the right and down the length of the fairway, but most players shouldn't have trouble carrying the 60 or so yards to reach the fairway. The water in front of the tee just seems more intimidating because the dunes also serve to make the fairway appear a lot more narrow than it actually is. In point of fact, the fairways throughout the Red are pretty large. There's not a lot of rough to speak of. But there is sand and natural grasses aplenty for those who do miss the short stuff. The course can also fool you into aiming at the wrong targets. The two bunkers that appear to be in the center here are actually on the left side of the fairway, about 260 yards from the tee. Aim just right of those, and swing away to get this round started.
The approach on the first hole plays uphill to an elevated green that slopes from left to right and back to front. It's safer to play to the front half of this green as the back half narrows significantly, and balls that go long will make for a difficult play back to the putting surface. There are bunkers short left and right of the green to catch errant shots in either direction, but Coore and Crenshaw offer players the option here to play low running shots up the wide avenue of fairway and into the green if you prefer a ground assault versus trying to fly it to the hole.
Hole 2 - Par 5 - 508 Yards
The second hole requires another forced carry -- this time a hearty 170 yards or so off the black tees -- to a fairway with water left and right. This relatively short par-5 bends to the right with bunkers and waste area all down the left side of the hole and water beyond, at least on the tee shot. Players may be tempted to bite off a big chunk of the hazard and rip one over the bridge that crosses to the fairway on the right, but it's a long way before your ball comes near land in that direction. The safe play off the tee is to hit out at the large waste bunker in the distance, or even a bit left of it. It's well over 300 yards away so isn't in play for most of us off the tee. but the fairway is widest short of the sand there and will leave you in ideal position to either lay-up or possibly even to go for it if you've really given your drive a poke.
For most players, the second shot on No. 2 will simply be an iron or hybrid in the direction of the green -- whatever club you feel most confident about keeping between the water on the right and the sand on the left. This fairway is full of little humps and knolls that can kick your ball in unpredictable direction, but played down the middle, most shots should come to rest leaving you setup for a short-iron or wedge approach into this long, narrow green. The putting surface is guarded by a large bunker short-right and a small, deadly pot bunker back-left. The bailout on this hole is left, but players who go that route may find themselves with an interesting lie for their chip. The green here is twice as long as it is wide, so hitting the ball where you aim it on the approach is paramount. Once again, though, the green slopes from back to front, and players do have the option to hit a low, running ball into the putting surface.
Hole 3 - Par 4 - 391 Yards
Hole No. 3 is a terrific par-4, bending to the right and out of sight around the dunes such that from the tee players only see a portion of the full breadth of the fairway. Water left and the dunes to the right suggest to the player's eye that there is only a narrow path to safety from the tee. It's really brilliant design. In actuality, the ideal shot off the tee is a drive that begins in the direction of the lefthand fairway bunker in the distance and fades right in the direction of the dunes. There are bunkers down the right side of the fairway so that players can't try to just bomb it over the dunes in hopes of cutting the corner, but the fairway itself is far more generous and receptive to a fade than it appears from the tee.
In my case, my fade didn't fade, and I smashed a really good straight ball that wound up just left of the fairway bunker at which I'd been aiming. It wasn't a terrible place at all from which to play as my ball came to rest with a clean lie atop the light rough. A few more yards, and I would have found myself in a sandy waste area -- more challenging but still playable. This was one of the first moments when it occurred to me that the course is challenging but definitely fair.
The green on No. 3, like the green on the second hole, is long and narrow, sloping from back to front and toward the middle from knolls on both sides. Those knolls make it particularly challenging to putt from the front of the green to the back or from back to front. And sand right of the green presents a further hurdle as players who find the bunker will struggle to find enough green to which they can play and hold the putting surface.
Hole 4 - Par 4 - 312 Yards
No. 4 is a very cool short par-4, reachable for big hitters, but even a drive that finds the green won't guarantee the player a below-par score here. The fairway is incredibly wide on this hole, but that doesn't make it an easy driving hole. First things first on this hole, average-length players will need to negotiate a 50-yard-long bunker that runs down the heart of the fairway. The tee ball will need to fly about 250 yards to cover the bunker without any worry. Anything short of that needs to be played to either the left or the right side. For players who seek to avoid the sand at all costs, it is an option to play just an iron off the tee and lay up short of the bunker. Doing so will leave a very manageable short iron into this green. The day I played here, I was spraying the ball a bit and told Chico that I'd just aim my drive right at the bunker in the middle, and there'd be no way it would land there!
Sure enough, my drive went left of the bunker, and I was rewarded with just a lob-wedge approach to this irregularly shaped green that wraps aroud the two bunkers front and center. The dunes beyond the green, covered in long native grasses, encourage players to take a little less club in fear of going long. And the green slopes significantly from back to front. The result is that it's easy to leave your approach short or to spin it back onto the front half of the green. And in many ways, the putting surface on No. 4 plays almost as two distinct greens left and right of the bunkers in the middle. A spine divides the green vertically just over top of the bunkers so that shots left of the spine go left and balls right of the spine go right. And shots that settle on the front half of the green, left or right of the bunker, may need to still be played through the air if the hole is cut on the opposite side of the putting surface. For a hole that barely plays longer than 300 yards, there is no lack of challenge here.
Hole 5 - Par 4 - 344 Yards
The fifth hole is a mid-length par-4 with water that runs down the entire right side of the hole as the fairway bends slightly around the lake. The fairway is wide, but with the green hugging the water's edge on the right, players can be fooled into aiming their tee shots too much to the right and winding up wet. The ideal drive is down the left side of the fairway, taking the water mostly out of play and setting up the safest possible approach.
From the right side of the fairway, the player feels like their margin for error is very small playing into this green. Flare the ball out to the right at all, and you're in your pocket for the next shot. Still, there is plenty of room to bail out to the left, as all of the trouble here is right. Even the four greenside bunkers on this hole are right or long of this green. The green itself will funnel most shots to the center. So, just find the putting surface with your approach, and you've set up a realistic birdie opportunity.
The fairways on the Red course are defined as much by the bumps and humps over which they flow as by the shape of the holes and the sand or water that surround them. Balls take sudden and unexpected bounces and turns as they bound down the fairway and settle sometimes on uneven lies. I haven't yet had the opportunity to travel and play golf overseas, but watching drives jump and dive as they run out here reminded me a lot of what I've enjoyed for so many years while watching the British Open. The Red is certainly a course that can be played through the air in a much more American style, but for those who enjoy the ground game, there's a lot of adventure to be found throughout the fairways here.
Hole 6 - Par 3 - 143 Yards
The sixth hole is the first par-3 on the course and features an almost absurdly large green for a hole that measures less than 150 yards. In fact, from back to front, the green itself is nearly 55 yards deep. Water short and right likely isn't in play unless a player just tops or shanks a ball off the tee. Still, this isn't an easy hole. A tall dune creeping in from the left blocks out a portion of the left side of the green. Small, deep bunkers left and back punish the player who misses the green in either of those directions, and a huge bunker between the water and the green front-right can be difficult to escape as its face rises like a wave in front of the player who finds himself trying to recover from a shot that lands in the sand on that side of the hole. Meanwhile, the putting surface is multi-tiered, and balls that finish above the hole can be difficult to putt anywhere close, depending on the day's pin position.
The short yardage beckons players to play a high-lofted short-iron shot off the tee, but I will say that the best shot in our group on this day was an accidental bump and run -- a complete mishit that ran up the throat between the dune on the left and the bunker on the right and wound up bouncing right up the green until it hit the pin and settled a few feet away. Even without kissing the flagstick, it would have been the best shot of the bunch and left me thinking there is definitely more than one way to play most of these holes.
Hole 7 - Par 5 - 521 Yards
No. 7 is the longest par-5 on the front nine, but at 521 yards and playing from a slightly elevated tee, the length of the hole may be the least of its challenges. The hole moves gently from right to left, and water down the entire left side means this hole should be played out to the right. The ideal drive is played just left of the first fairway bunker on the right side. A well executed tee shot on that line will set up either a low-risk second shot down the right side of the fairway, or the best angle for a high-risk attempt to reach the green in two.
As if the water itself didn't provide enough trouble to the left, I'm pretty sure this is the same gator that took Chubbs Peterson's right hand!
Poor Chubbs. But back to the course!
The safe strategy on 7 is to play a layup shot as long as you like down the right hand side. The green is long but extremely narrow, tucked in next to bunkers left, just above the water, and wrapping around a bunker center-right. The putting surface is 60 yards long with knolls and troughs that make it as important as ever to get your approach shot close to the hole. While it may technically be reachable for some players, the green complex is riddled with danger that could be scorecard killers. The more you can do to give yourself a short-iron or wedge into this green, the more likely you are to set up a scoring opportunity -- even if that means embracing par for the good score that it is here.
Hole 8 - Par 3 - 119 Yrds
The eighth hole is one of the coolest little par-3s I've ever played. It's only 119 yards from the black tees to the center of the green. But at just over 60 yards from the front of the green to the back, the hole can really play anywhere from about 95 yards to 145 yards. What's more, the green is the most unusually shaped green I think I've ever played. It's essentially a vertical tilda -- that punctuation mark that looks like this: "~" -- sloping primarily from back to front and left to right but with knolls that will create more movement than you expect on your shot into the green and your putts. There are four greenside bunkers right of the hole and a waste area left. The only real bailout area is long, but that makes for such a challenging shot back onto the green that it may actually be better to find yourself in a bunker with an uphill blast that will let you use the slope of the green as a backstop. Even at just over 100 yards the day I played here, those of us who escaped No. 8 with pars felt like we'd accomplished something.
The halfway (or almost halfway) houses at Streamsong are an important part of the experience. Just right of the 8th hole sits the BBQ Snack Shack with some of the best barbeque you're going to find in the state of Florida. Chico recommended the pulled pork sandwich, and I wanted to go back and get another before we'd even finished teeing off on No. 9.
Hole 9 - Par 4 - 271 Yards
The ninth hole is a short par-4 measuring just 271 yards from the black tees. Better take advantage because it's followed by three consecutive par-4s that are all longer than 400 yards. There are two large bunkers front-center and a devilish little bunker right of the green that have to be avoided in order to score well here, but the green is drivable, particularly on the left side, where it's unprotected by sand and 40 yards deep. For those who don't want to risk dumping a drive in the sand, there is plenty of room to play just a long-iron, hybrid or fairway wood short and into the fairway, leaving just a little wedge into this green.
I'm happy to say I did successfully drive the green, though my ball rolled just off the edge of the putting surface to the left, and I did come away with a birdie. But this picture from the fairway -- where players can lay up -- gives you a sense of the elevation change in the hole. The green itself is shaped like a capital T, laid on its side. It's seep on the left, but to the right, just over the bunkers, the putting surface is quite shallow. When the hole is cut on the left, laying up to this position likely makes for a pretty straightforward bump and run or pitch to the pin. But if the flag is on the right, landing a ball on the green over the sand and getting it to stay may be more difficult than you'd expect on such a short hole.
Hole 10 - Par 4 - 431 Yards
No. 10 is a long, straight par-4 that features a ton of sand yet not a single bunker. From the tees to the fairway to the green, the entire hole is surrounded by sandy waste area with patches of natural grasses that can make for some interesting lies. The tee shot plays up and over a rise, and the hole slopes gently from right to left such that it can be difficult to know that your line off the tee should generally be a bit more left than you realize. The lack of bunkers, which should arguably make the hole easier, actually deprives you here of targets by which to align your shots and -- for me, at least -- made it a more challenging hole than I expected when I looked at it in the yardage book.
After hitting what I thought was a really good shot up the right side of the hole, I found my ball sitting in a sandy lie up against a thick patch of gnarly grass just off the right side of the fairway. Turns out the waste area cuts in a bit at about 240 yards off the tee, and I'd hit it about 250. That still left me with about a 185-yard shot. The good news is that, while the green on 10 isn't technically a punchbowl, it does tend to funnel balls toward the middle from all sides. So, holding the green isn't as difficult as it might be with a long-iron or hybrid in your hands. Still, it's one of the smaller greens on the course, and you're unlikely to find a flat lie if you miss it. No bunkers. No trees. No water. No doglegs. And par is still a really good score here.
Hole 11 - Par 4 - 408 Yards
The 11th hole plays uphill and is a far more difficult driving hole than the 10th. The hole bends a bit from right to left, and three bunkers in the center of the fairway, beginning about 220 yards off the tee, essentially force players to choose either the left or right side for their drive. Left appears to be safer because you can see more of the fairway there, but the right side of the fairway is actually a bit wider and offers a better line to the green. If you can confidently drive the ball up the hill just right of the first bunker, you'll be in ideal position to play the second shot.
From the right side of the fairway, you don't have to worry so much about the greenside bunker that sits below the putting surface short-left. In fact, the green slopes predominantly from right to left, so you can aim even a bit farther right of the bunker than you might think and let the slope bring your ball in toward the hole. This angle, playing from the right side of the fairway, gives you a clearer look at the green. There is not as much room to run a ball into this putting surface as on some other holes on the course, and the waste area creeps in from the right, so you'll need to fly the ball to at least 30 yards or so out from the green. Land it short, and you may luck into a good bounce that leaves you putting. Just as likely, your ball may be caught up or redirected by the rolling terrain of the fairway short of the green. But even that will set you up with a straightforward chip or pitch and a lot of green to work with.
Hole 12 - Par 4 - 472 Yards
I'm a bit conflicted about No. 12. It's a really good hole, don't get me wrong. But there's something about the distance that left me unsettled. The hole is a big, big par-4. It feels like it ought to be a short par-5. But, it plays downhill, so 472 yards doesn't really play quite like 472. And the fairway is massive. It's hard to miss. The important thing to know is that you just have to play far enough out to the right to ensure you don't find any of the small fairway bunkers on the left that begin about 160 yards off the tee and continue for more than 100 yards down the left side. The bunker down the right side is more than 300 yards away and not in play for most of us. the best ball here is down the middle, in the direction of the lake in the distance. But don't be afraid to favor the right side of this fairway.
Here's where No. 12 got me. I hit a decent drive. Not great, but decent. I still had 230 yards to the flag from this point in the fairway -- downhill, but not dramatically. Yet I somehow nuked my hybrid over the green. I'm just chalking it up to wind or maybe the protein from that barbeque finally kicking in because I do not hit my hybrid 230, let alone the close to 250 it traveled on this shot. In the end, though, I discovered that left and long are the misses on this hole, and I was in OK shape to at least still bogey. The 12th green is sort of rectangular. There are no truly regularly shaped greens at Streamsong, and I love that. It's not a particularly large green, which makes finding it with a long iron, hybrid or fairway wood even more challenging. But it's a good 40 yards deep and wide enough to still be fair. There is a bunker left of the green, about 30 yards short of it. And there are a series of five bunkers to the right that probably aren't a picnic to play out of but will help to keep a mishit ball from finding the water that comes into play on the right side for the last 75 yards or so. The green here slopes primarily from back to front, and there's a bit of a false front to the green on the left side that can make finding the green and putting it a bit tricky, depending on where the hole is cut.
Hole 13 - Par 5 - 508 Yards
No. 13 is a terrific par-5 that plays uphill from tee to green. The wide fairway is wide, but a large bunker in the center of the landing zone makes for a challenging tee shot. Play to the left, and there is more room for error, but your line to the green will be obscured by dunes and bunkering that rise high above the putting surface. Drive to the right, and the fairway is tighter between the fairway bunker and the waste area to the right, but you'll have a clearer path to the green on this reachable hole. Choices, choices!
I played left of the bunker and found myself with no view of the green, some 240 yards out. There is water out of view but in play left of the hole starting at about 130 yards from the green, and the hole curls back around the dune straight ahead such that you've got to flirt with the lake to have a chance of reaching this green. Having crushed my hybrid on the previous hole, I was feeling pretty good about swinging a long club. Chico handed me my 3-wood, pointed me at the bunker at the base of the dune, and said, "Smash it." It was one of my best swings of the week, and I wound up putting for eagle from about 20 feet (missed, but made the birdie).
Even having hit a great second shot, the closer I got to the green, the more I realized just how small a target it is and how much trouble there is if you go for it and play a less-than-stellar shot. The dune that rises up 90 yards out from the green extends almost to the front of the green on the left side. There are small bunkers left and long from which it could be difficult to hold the green, which slopes from back to front and left to right. There's also a little knob in the front half of the green that will kick the ball hard left or right if you find it. That said, there is plenty of room to bail out to the right and short of the green, and there is nothing wrong at all with simply laying up your second shot here to your favorite wedge distance, so long as you avoid the fairway bunkers left and right. No. 13 requires strategic thinking and solid golf swings but does offer up the opportunity to score well for those who execute the shots. But there is danger to be found and no shame in simply trying to manage your way to a par by playing the highest-percentage shots from tee to green.
Hole 14 - Par 3 - 166 Yards
The 14th hole is a tough, mid-length par-3. The small green slopes primarily from back to front, but balls played to the back-left section of the green will run through the green and down the hill on the back side. The green is surrounded by four deep bunkers, including one behind that you can't see from the tee. So, finding the putting surface is particularly important here. There is room to miss behind the green on either side, but getting the ball anywhere near the hole on the comeback shot will be especially challenging thanks to a knob on the back of the green. The putting surface also features a false front and will reject balls that don't make it at least a third of the way onto the green. If you haven't figured it out yet, there are no "easy" holes on the Red course.
Hole 15 - Par 4 - 453 Yards
After the brief respite of the short 14th, No. 15 is all the par-4 you could want and then some. Uphill and more than 450 yards, the hole requires you to hit driver and demands that you do so with precision as the fairway turns from right to left and fairway bunkers on both sides of the landing zone make the tee shot a lot more daunting. The bunker on the left, in particular, has the potential to turn a poor shot into a catastrophe. As it happened, I hooked my drive into the bottom of that bunker and found myself staring at the face of the thing -- which has to be at least 15 feet high -- and wondering how in the world I was even going to get out of there, let alone try to salvage a score. Fortunately for me, Chico's confidence won out. He handed me a 7-iron and told to just hit it high and hard, and somehow I managed to clear the face of the bunker by a couple of feet and land the ball in the fairway maybe 60 yards or so from the green. I could imagine, though -- indeed, I did imagine -- all of the many ways I could have found myself hitting two or three shots before figuring out how to get out of the sand there.
From the fairway, the approach is played to an elevated green guarded by one bunker to the left. There are two bunkers short-right of the green, but they're not as near the green as you might think from the fairway. There is plenty of room to run a low ball into the putting surface here, using the back-to-front slope as a backstop.
Hole 16 - Par 3 - 184 Yards
The 16th hole is possibly the best hole on a course that features 18 really, really good holes. It's a long par-3 that requires you carry 150 yards of water before you reach dry land and plays to a 70-yard-long Biarritz green. On this particular day, the pin was in the back, and the hole was playing more than 200 yards long. The ideal shot shape here is a fade as the green stretches back behind and beyond the large dune to its right. But the dune also intimidates players into aiming farther left, toward a bailout area just over the large bunker, which can quickly tank their hopes for par or better.
From behind the 16th green, looking back toward the tee, you can see the trough across the middle of the green that is the defining feature of the Biarritz template. You also can see here a bit of how the green is obscured from the tee box by the large dune to the left. It's a really wonderful hole, particularly for fans of template holes and those of us who appreciate (even when we can't always execute) the ability to properly shape a shot.
Hole 17 - Par 4 - 384 Yards
The 17th hole is a mid-length par-4 that moves from left to right around a huge waste bunker. The safe play off the tee is a drive in the direction of the far fairway bunker on the left side of the hole. It'll take a poke of about 285 to get there, so most of us are safe just bashing one out in that general direction and allowing the left-to-right slope of the fairway to feed the ball in the direction of the green. Big hitters may opt to try to cut the corner a bit, but you're looking at a carry of 240 or more to bite off any sort of significant chunk of that bunker and reach the fairway.
I'll never be able to explain how I did it, but somehow I cranked my drive over the entire bunker on the right and wound up in the large collection area about 70 yards short-right of the green -- just out of frame in this picture. I was not aiming over there, but somehow I pushed the ball off the tee, and it just flew forever. (Didn't help me score, though. I chunked my second shot and barely escaped with a bogey.) This view is what most folks would consider position A -- just left of the waste bunker on the right side of the hole and short of the far fairway bunker, which is out of frame to the left here. From this position, it's about a 120-yard shot into this green, which is protected by a couple of small bunkers short and a narrow greenside bunker on the left. The putting surface slopes from back to front and right to left, and it's receptive to both high-lofted short-iron shots that favor the right side of the green and low running shots that come in from the left side and use the slope as a backstop. I failed to take advantage despite my bomb off the tee, but this ought to be one of the holes you circle on the card before you start the round because it's a hole that should yield more than its fair share of birdies.
Hole 18 - Par 5 - 505 Yards
No. 18 is another scoring opportunity -- an uphill par-5 that plays just over 500 yards and is reachable for the daring. Vast waste areas stretch out on either side of the fairway, and the fairway itself looks like its been cleaved in two by some sort of jagged blade as a waste bunker cuts deep into it from near the teeing area. The safe play is up the right side, and it'll take a drive of about 290 yards to get to the point where the waste bunker in the middle ends and the fairway really widens. Balls hit up the right side also will benefit from the natural slope of the terrain, which will feed balls back toward the center.
From the fairway, the layup (or approach, if you're going for it) continues uphill toward the rising dunes. A series of fairway bunkers on the left stretch for about 60 yards beginning about 100 yards out from the green. And a smaller bunker on the right, about 70 yards from the green, is especially dangerous. The green itself is guarded by just two small bunkers back-left and back-right. It features a false front that will kick any ball hit on the right side off the putting surface and down into a collection area below the green. That's a perfectly safe place from which to play your third shot if you've gone for the green in two; it's a more nerve-wracking place from which to play your fourth if you laid up and then missed the green on your approach.
All in all, the Red course was absolutely fantastic. I was already a fan of Coore and Crenshaw, and much of what I loved about their work at Friar's Head is present here at Streamsong as well -- the creativity, the use of the dunes, the demands on shotmaking. It really is an incredible piece of property, especially for central Florida, and I couldn't wait to come back a few days later to blay the Black and the Blue. Big thanks to my man, Chico. He helped me right the ship when it looked like my game was going to hell at the outset. And more important than my score, we just had a fantastic time together -- so much so that I requested he loop for me again for both my rounds a few days later.
More to come soon about Streamsong's other two courses, but I'll say this ... even if you only had time to play the Red, it's well worth the trip. Keep an eye out for Streamsong parts two and three.
Have you played the Red course at Streamsong Resort? Drop a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you thought of the course or this blog post. Always happy to connect!