The term “Florida golf” just got turned on its ear with the early 2013 opening of the Streamsong courses. Already on most industry publications “best” lists, the two 18-hole layouts exceed the hype.
Streamsong is a little more than an hour south of both Orlando and Tampa, but you really get a feel for what Florida must have been like before the resorts took over. In fact, my GPS couldn’t find a town named Streamsong (it’s in rural Polk County), so I had to program latitude and longitude coordinates from the website.
The two 18s are simply named red and blue (after the pen colors the architects used to initially layout their respective tracks). Streamsong Red was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (who were responsible for the renovation at Pine-hurst No. 2)—and features a par-72, 7,150-yard design with large lakes, rolling terrain and atypical Florida landforms.
Streamsong Blue is the handiwork of Tom Doak, the architect who put Bandon Dunes on the map with his Old MacDonald and Pacific Dunes gems. The par-72 course tips out at 7,164 yards, with invitingly wide fairways, bunkers you want to stay out of, and dramatic elevation changes (especially for Florida).
And let’s not forget Doak’s 37th hole, named “Bye”—a short, 150-yarder adjacent to the clubhouse area that’s used to settle bets or break ties after a round is played.
The architects inherited a great landscape from the developer, Mosaic Company, a leading global supplier of phosphate, which the company mined on the 16,000-acre site for half a century. The native sands left behind from the mining process have created a windswept backdrop with towering dunes, contours, and natural bunkers. Give Mother Nature most of the credit for what she has created with these elements for the past five decades—and Doak, Coore and Crenshaw get the rest.
On either course, you’ll think you’ve been transported to some old Scottish links or the Oregon coast. You’ll feel you’re part of something special, unique and one-of-a-kind—not typical Florida.
Even so, I was quickly reminded what state I was in when one of my wayward tee shots settled next to a 15-foot crocodile. (I let him keep that Titleist.)
The clubhouse, designed by Alfonso Architects, is a minimalist design featuring 12 guest rooms, 4,500 square feet of meeting space, a great steakhouse (named after everyone’s dream golf score of 59), a lounge, and a pro shop. Construction is already underway for the main lodge/resort, slated to open in the fall of 2013. The hotel will include 216 luxury guest rooms, a conference center, a full-service spa, a lakeside pool, casual and fine dining, a rooftop bar, tennis, and more.
All things considered, Streamsong should be one golf tune a lot of folks are humming this year.