Earlier this year, rather than give me an overly thoughtful gift that she knew I would probably not appreciate, my lovely wife decided to give me something without umph, but that she knew I would love. That was the gift of golf, but not a round at my local track, she would send me to the course of my choice on our next trip out of town. So this Thanksgiving, we spurned the cold St. Louis weather for a few days of sun and warmth in Orlando. As you can imagine, there are a lot of choices for golf in the Sunshine State and oddly enough I had only played golf in Florida twice, in Key West in 1999 and Disney’s Magnolia in 2012. Wanting to do something out of the ordinary, there was only one name that came to mind…Streamsong.
Built in 2012 on a former phosphate mine, in the middle of nowhere Central Florida, you would think you were on the Pacific Coast or shoreline of Lake Michigan. Sand dunes are the dominant feature of this 36-hole complex. Streamsong offers two courses with distinct characteristics while intertwining on the same land. Designed by renowned architects Tom Doak and Coore-Crenshaw it is truly a special piece of property.
I chose to play Red as one of my golf bucket list items was to play a Coore-Crenshaw designed facility. I was told that Red has slightly tighter landing areas, but the greens are less severe, so off I went. First off, all by myself, with my push cart and range finder, I was in heaven.
From the very beginning, Red, offers more elevation changes than you would expect anywhere in Florida, with several tee boxes perched atop a sand dune, looking down over the fairway. The grass in the landing area was all the same height, fairway height throughout the entire property, so rough was not an obstacle, the sand more than made up for it. Hit it off of the generous fairways and you would be lucky to have a flat and unobstructed lie. The greens were perfect, smooth and plenty fast and firm, but still receptive to well struck approach shots.
I hit the ball very well on the much shorter front nine, only missing two fairways and two greens, which both resulted in double bogeys. It wasn’t until the 5th hole that I experienced a true Coore-Crenshaw design element though. My tee shot on the short Par-4 came to rest on a mound in the fairway, and with the ball about 6 inches below my feet, I played a good, but very safe shot to the front of the green leaving a very challenging and undulating putt to a back right pin, perched atop a plateau. My best and most satisfying two putt of the day, thanks to the 8 footer for par. After noticing that element to the course, I began to find many more of those challenging situations including several putts from off of the greens that rose at least 3 feet to the putting surface.
The back nine was nearly 500 yards longer than the front and the starter suggested that many guests play one tee forward on the back to accommodate. I chose to tough it out and my score was reflective of that choice. After I got over the back to back to back 450+ yard par 4’s to start the back nine, I made three pars in a row building my confidence for the most intimidating and probably picturesque Par-3 of the course. Side by side with the signature hole of the Blue Course, the 16th hole can play from 160 to the front pin I played to well over 210 yards for a back pin. The tee is perched on one of the higher points of the course and plays over a pond below to an elevated green with the most sever dunes short of the putting surface, making a sand shot to the putting surface nearly impossible. Luckily I picked the right club because 5 feet longer and my ball would have dropped down a 4-foot slope that bisects the middle of the green. I could also watch the foursome on the Blue next to me play their signature Par-3, 7th hole, a great viewing area.
I could easily go hole by hole and write 2,000 plus words and include the 30+ photos I took with my phone throughout my 3 hour round (which would have been 2:15 riding), but I won’t subject you to that without a beer in hand. I have played quite a few nice golf courses around the country and have a lot more that I hope to see in time, but Streamsong ranks right up there in providing an exceptional golf experience with a stunning view throughout the entire property. You will not regret the 90 minute drive from Orlando or 60 minute drive from Tampa.
I cannot wait to go back and take a crack at the Blue in 2014.
To learn more about Streamsong, visit www.streamsongresort.com.