Having already experienced the Red and Blue courses at what has now become a 'must see' golf destination in Florida, I was incredibly excited about the prospect of yet a third course at the Streamsong resort. The Black course by Gil Hanse certainly doesn't disappoint as it adds a dramatically different dimension to the challenges presented here.
When I visited the course, the Northwesterly wind was blowing over 40 mph, which is by all accounts a rare occurrence here. This made the round incredibly challenging, as the golfer is fully exposed to the elements on this vast expansive terrain, which has less than 30 feet of elevation changes with very little protection from tress, throughout.
Despite this overpowering challenge the golfing experience on offer is exceptional. It would be hard to liken it to anything I've seen before, as I can't imagine many locations offer the architect the luxury of so much ripened golfing terrain to experiment with.
This is the kind of course that could play differently each round, as there are infinite opportunities for pin placements on the incredibly vast putting surfaces. Playing the course for the first time, it's very hard to know where to land the ball to get close to pins without elements of luck, as the run offs even within the putting surfaces heavily influence where the ball will finish up. The undulations on the greens are so severe that what can look like a well-placed approach shot can come to disastrous consequences if landed in the wrong spot. That said, a good long putter with touch and imagination will prevail here, as the quality of the surfaces run pure and true. The challenge in putting isn't just the line but the roly-poly undulations, which are hard to gauge as there are no obvious flat spots to level up against.
I don't feel it's necessary to walk-though all the holes in this review, as that has already been done in great detail in previous reviews, but what I can tell you is that the round does build up to a magnificent crescendo, as the closing stretch from 13 in offers a complete mixture of holes and challenges, giving the player a chance to put in a strong finish to the round where fortune favours the brave, but only if perfect execution of shot making is executed. The par 5, 18th is an absolute gem of visual and tactical delight.
I would love to return here and play all three courses in one visit to make a close and true comparison, having now seen all the courses. I think for anyone coming here on a 3 or 4 day trip, the quality and variety of golf on offer must put it on the shortlist of contenders for best stays and play golf resorts in America, and I'm sure it would be impossible to get bored of the golf on offer at this location. SB
Date: January 30, 2018