The Red, Blue and Black courses at the Streamsong Resort lie on a sizeable tract of reclaimed land within an enormous 16,000-acre property that was once heavily mined by the Mosaic corporation, a leading company in the supply of phosphate and potash to the agricultural industry.
As part of a laudable commitment to environmental sustainability, Mosaic decided the most appropriate action for the decades-old Polk County site was its transformation from industrial wasteland to upmarket golf resort in the mould of Bandon Dunes.
And if this new facility was to gain a similar reputation to that of its counterpart in Oregon, then so much the better, because discerning golfers would more than likely flock to Streamsong in substantial numbers, keen to sample the golf on offer.
Some will think the smartest move Mosaic made was at the outset of the project with the appointment of Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – all three were involved at Bandon – as designers for the resort’s first two 18-hole layouts which opened for play in 2014.
Such an architectural dream team was virtually guaranteed to deliver a world-class 36-hole golf complex and so Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design Company was tasked with creating the Blue course whilst Coore and Crenshaw’s firm was detailed to lay out the Red course.
Both courses feature generous fairways and few forced carries so the playability quotient for the average golfer is very favourable. The Blue occupies a central portion of the property and, as a consequence, is the more open of the two layouts.
The signature hole on the Blue may well be the par three 7th, with its wonderfully contoured green nestled between a lake to the front and huge sand dunes to the rear. "My younger associates and I discussed, more than once, the idea of putting in a zip line to get across the pond on the 7th hole at Streamsong." Commented Tom Doak in his Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture. "There were only two problems with our dream: 1) Mosaic is a very risk-averse company, and 2) There are alligators in that pond, which might be a problem if anyone fell off the zip line."
On the back nine, the risk/reward 305-yard par four 13th is another stand out hole, where a ridge splits the fairway between an upper right portion and a lower left segment.In 2017, the Black course became the third 18-hole layout to open at Streamsong, set close to, but slightly away from, the Red and Blue courses. Designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, the Black occupies a vast, open tract that stylishly complements the other two courses at a wonderful 54-hole facility.
We have been promoting it and sending golfers since way back in time when it was open and we have had great reviews almost always from the courses in the Resort although some find the firm fast conditions plus very fast greens an extremely tough combo for their game considering the very wide open fairways the courses at the Resort have.
I had never been there although my buddies went to play the Red back in 2015 and with the return to our trip to Orlando we decided to play the other original one and with the quality of Design Mr Doak has the expectations were very high.
It is not a so bad transfer time from Orlando, just over 1hr to arrive to Hotel and Courses from where we were staying was a pleasant drive. Do not get alarmed by the distance, if you go to Orlando you can do this drive even twice as all three courses are great. I was able to do a ride over the other 2 and with different styles, all three combine to have a fantastic golf facility and with a great Club House.
We played in a very windy day and with this new World Handicap System I bet the PCC would have been easily +3. I really like the course and struggled with some holes that looked easier (100yds par 3 5th, double bogey and a very silly bogey on par 5 9th plus another double on 17th), the firm conditions plus some demanding tee shots were a great challenge.
Some holes to highlight:
- Par 4 3rd: up the hill to a huge green for the second shot, a great hole.
- Short par 4 6th: although you can drive it, the green might be the toughest on the course.
- Par 3 7th: the most pictured hole in the Resort, there is a small story on the with the Course Marshall but the hole is amazing!
- Short par 4 13th is a great risk/reward hole.
- Par 4 18th: this one is a Monster, maybe the toughest on the course.
A great course which still needs some maturity and some improvements in Operations, but still a great test and a well worth visit.
The Blue course at Streamsong is a Tom Doak design. The Blue has ginormous fairways, deep bunkers and relatively small greens. I found it more forgiving than the Red. Tons of dirt were moved to create these courses. Remember, these courses are in an old mine and it gets hot.
You ease into this course, so score early. The first three holes are good birdie opptys. The tee for the first hole is from the highest point on the property. A short par four, a decent drive will give you a flip wedge to the green. On the par 5 second, favor the left off the tee and on the 3rd favor the right. The par 4 fourth is a golfer’s golf hole. A demanding long par 4 with a myriad of fairway bunkers that create the illusion of danger on your drive. Trust me, there is plenty of room, especially on the right side of the fairway. Hit an extra club to this elevated green that is protected left and right by deep BABs. One of the best holes on property. The short par 3 5th should be one of the easiest holes , but with a green that is over 70 yards long and is some places only about 10 yards wide, three putts are not uncommon. The 6th is a gimme par 4. The 7th is widely acclaimed as the signature hole, a long par 3 with a carry over water. It parallels the 16th on the Red course. If the pin is back, make sure you take an extra club. The 8th is a tricky bugger. Off the tee it does not look that difficult. There is a bunker in the middle of the fairway which forces you to decide left or right. Right is longer, however, there is a small water hazard left that is just in range off the tee. Any guesses where I ended up? Favor the left side on the par 5 9th. Depending upon the tees and the quality of your drive, you may have a blind second shot. The hole is relatively straight.
The back starts with a gimme par 3 followed up with purportedly the toughest hole on the course. Yes, 11 is long and there are some fairway bunkers left, but….. Holes 12-14 are excellent birdie opptys. On 12 favor left of center off the tee. You can drive through the fairway and there is a water hazard on the right and front protecting the green. The 13th is a classic risk reward driveable par 4. To be successful you gotta hit it straight. The throat has a landing area that is only about 10 yards wide. Right you are in the bunker, if you are left and lucky you will stay in play. Otherwise you may end up in the water hazard. The 14th is an uphill par 5 with a forced carry that will determine how big is your appetite. This is well designed hole. While it is conceivable to get home in two, the bunkers tiered on the left side from 100 yards in will give you pause. The layup area is also very small. A classic conundrum, should I stay or should I go. The safest layup is about 125 yards out, so I threw caution to the wind and paid for my indiscretion. The finishing holes on Blue are strong. The 16th is a long uphill par 3. It lists to the right so aim left of the flag. In my opinion, the par 5 17th is one of the best designed holes I have ever played. At 590 yards with an elevated green it is already challenging enough. Let’s add fairway bunkers right and left. How about a chasm that must be cleared on the second shot? Let’s throw in some cross bunkers to separate heroes from cowards, young from old, wise from foolish. Don’t forget the greenside bunkers. The 18th has a catapult landing area left of center. If you can get there you will have a short iron in. If not, thanks for playing here is your door prize.
I enjoyed Blue. I think it is over rated and over-priced.. Some really good holes, some pedestrian and some very forgettable.
My favorite course at Streamsong is the Blue course, designed by Tom Doak. The course is consistent and builds throughout to a terrific set of finishing holes. It also doesn't have quite as many overly undulated greens as Mr. Doak sometimes has on his courses. All three of the courses at Streamsong are links-like incorporating seamlessley with the terrain and landscape. I have played the Blue three times.
The first hole is a short par 4 with the tee way up on a sand hill providing excellent views of the clubhouse and much of the red and blue courses. You can even see some of the black course. It's an easy hole where Mr. Doak tries to hide the green with mounds but it is apparent what you need to do. I found making par was relatively easy even is you drive left into the sand. I like this as a starting hole as a player could make 3 to 6, although likely to make 4. The green is large with undulations primarily running away from the approach shot, but it is not unfair.
Two is a par 5 requiring a downhill tee shot. It is well bunkered around the raised green and a nice par 5 with a chance for birdie or even eagle but a bogey would also be a common score. This adds to the gentle/kind beginning to the round.
The third is a par 4 that requires an uphill second shot. You can shorten this hole by driving left but it brings the water and tall grass into play. It has a large green with some severe undulations but not too silly. This is a visually attractive hole from tee to on the green.
The fourth is a hard par 4. You cannot go left into the sand which parallels much of the left side of the fairway and expect to get to the green with your second shot as the sand goes on and on. Compounding the difficulty is a very elevated green. A par here is a good score. It is a hole that cleverly balances difficulty with fun. If a player is going to miss the fairway on the tee shot, it is better to miss to the right. A birdie would require an exceptional second or a magnificent putt.
Five is a short par 3 with the back right of the green being perhaps too silly due to a big ridge but did not see the ridge come into play for any of us in the three rounds. The tee shot generally plays into the wind but I found the hole to be easy as long as you do not hit left of the green where bunkers or a steep falloff are waiting for a bad shot.
The sixth is a short par 4 with a feature I do not care for which is a bunker somewhat in the middle of the fairway. There is plenty of fairway to the left of this bunker and a narrower amount to the right. My issue is that it penalizes too much the average length hitter for a perfect tee shot. Mr. Doak also protects the right side of the fairway with more bunkers. It’s a common thing to do on a short par 4, to penalize a good drive as the architect wants to reward the big hitter or to force the shorter hitter to take an angle into the green. But a big hitter could drive the green so I do not know how often this middle fairway bunker is in play for them. To be fair, Mr. Doak didn't have good land here due to a large hill behind the green. Everyone else in my group (six others) loved this hole so perhaps it is a bias personal to me as the hole favors the longer hitter. Doesn’t the long hitter already have enough advantages? I did like the angle of the green which provides a better line for the player going left off the tee; so a longer shot in but a better view of the green.
Seven is an all-world par 3 over water with a green that somewhat borders on unfair if the pin was placed on top of one of the knobs, but I do not think it is often placed there. It is a beautiful hole from the tee shot all the way to walking on the green. A ball hit right has the chance to still end up on the green, much like 15 at Ballyneal. This is the hole often seen in the advertising for Streamsong.
A hard par 4 follows where the average hitter must consider water down the left for the second shot. The green and bunkering are very good here, both on the tee shot and the approach shot. This is an excellent golf hole with a green that requires real thinking on the putt.
Nine is a long par 5 with a superb green complex. It is perhaps the best hole on the front nine and that is saying something after playing the previous two holes. The tee shot requires a long shot to get to the top of the fairway and the second shot can be hit fully as the real key is in the third shot. The final shot is to a large green that is really difficult to find a flat spot offering an easy putt.
The back nine begins with a medium length par 3 with excellent bunkering and a fair green. This hole is sneaky difficult due to the green complex. I can see scores ranging from 2 to 6 here.
I think eleven is one of the weaker holes as a long par 4 with nothing really special except its length. It is not an easy hole, but it lacks the visual excitement that most of the other holes have.
Twelve is a medium length par 4 with excellent bunkering for the tee shot and the approach shot that very well captures the use of water. The green can be viewed by some as silly depending on pin location. This is a very pretty hole from the tee.
Thirteen is a short par 4 that can be driven. It is a fun hole assuming you judge the wind correctly and can hit one or two straight shots. The green is large but fair. The miss on the tee shot is to the right into the sand because you can at least see the green. Missing to the left side of the green can either end up in the water or in a large bunker that is situated well below the green leaving a blind second shot.
The shortest par 5 is next requiring a drive over the water. A big hitter can reduce this hole to a mid-iron second shot, possibly less. It is another large, but fair green. I found this to be a gentle par 5 before the course really starts to show its teeth again.
The fifteenth has one of the widest fairways I've ever seen other than at Old Macdonald, to a green protected on the left by a mound with some ridges. It is a fair hole despite the green having some big ridges in it.
Sixteen is a long par 3 with a green that is sneaky with its undulations, but not over the top. I can see few birdies here and a lot of 5’s.
Seventeen is a brutal par 5 for the short or average length hitter. The long hitter has a big advantage here. I found it to be the most difficult hole on the course. I had my chances here, but couldn't convert. But I liked the hole so much that I wasn't disappointed. I really liked the strategy of going over the hill or laying up short and then considering how to play to this green which appears to be narrow but is not. It is a fun green to judge the perfect putt or chip given its complicated slants.
Eighteen is a long par 4 with good bunkering throughout the hole. It is one of the better finishing holes I have ever played on a resort golf course. It has a massive green that will funnel balls either back onto the green or towards the center. If you go long behind the green, you will not save par unless the cup is in the front. This hole makes you want to keep playing.
I like Streamsong Blue a lot. It does have a few weak holes but the course builds and builds throughout. It is more consistent than the Red or Black. As is typical with Mr. Doak, the real challenge is in the second shot and the short game. The green complexes are all good. There is good variation in the type of bunker, whether raised or slightly flatter, or ragged or more finished, and Mr. Doak and crew always seem to always choose the right look. The greens do have a few unfair undulations but in my three rounds where I witnessed players having to contend with them, the pins were never placed to where you did not think you had no possibility of two putting. You get to use every club in your bag multiple times. The course requires a deft touch/finesse around the greens on chipping, pitching, or putting. A good caddie is very important here.
The Blue course felt a bit more natural and requires a bit more variety in shot-making than the Black or Red. While both the Red and the Blue have changes in elevation, the Blue seems to have a bit more than the Red, particularly early in the round, whereas the Black’s changes in elevation do not appear as natural. I think the Red has more “better” holes but lacks the consistency throughout that the Blue has. I think the Black has perhaps the best routing but it has one truly terrible hole and three bad greens which hurt the golf course.
Much like at Bandon Dunes, I could play this course many times and always be excited to discover new features, new defenses, new breaks, and be pleasantly surprised at the joy in the challenge.
The red and the blue courses at Streamsong were almost interchangeable to me. Both generally nondescript boring layouts not worthy of the cost or inconvenience.
There are some fantastic golf holes on the Blue course and I really enjoyed my round there. I played it in mid March of 2018 and yes it was already HOT, so keep that in mind when going to Streamsong. The first hole was a memorable tee shot from the top of a sand dune which also offers a great view of the clubhouse. I found the course to be pretty playable but it is fair to say that the green complexes were difficult and certainly could be described as the courses defense. 17 and 18 were fantastic finishing holes with the ladder offering a backdrop of the beautiful modern clubhouse. Greens were fast and course played fairly firm. It was also so nice to play golf in Florida without 500 houses lining every fairway. The signature par 3 over the water on the Blue is unforgettable. Can't wait to go back and play the Black and the Red.
Every golf course ranking I’ve seen has the Red course rated ahead of the Blue, this website included, so naturally I thought my opinion would conform with this, but to my surprise I’m giving the edge to the Blue.
Let’s get its shortcomings out of the way first; the options provided by Coore & Crenshaw on the Red aren’t as plentiful on the Blue, the greens are tricky, contoured and they’re quick, personally I found them the trickiest of all three courses, and the walks between holes are more of a schlep than on the Red making for longer rounds, but boy there are some beautiful golf holes on this course.
What struck me with the Blue is that there’s more rise and fall, characterised immediately with the 100’ high dune that you tee it up on at the first. I also felt that the Blue was more in keeping with its surroundings. Some will feel that it’s less spectacular than the Red but the course feels less manipulated to me. If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed that this was the first course to occupy the land at Streamsong.
Whilst fairways are wide, both the greens and fairways are set at peculiar angles with club selection off the tee to find the right part of the fairway being paramount. The entrance to several greens also go unguarded by bunkers, instead Doak opts to use short grass and slopes with collection points as a hazard. And whilst most view the Blue as the easier layout, miss some of the greens on the wrong side and you’re making double if not more. The challenge for me also came from getting the ball close with a wedge, particularly when chipping. Whilst this observation also applies to a lesser degree on the Red, there are some harsh slopes and borrows in the greens that you need to guard from, not easy when you’re trying to nip the ball off tightly mown turf.
Whilst the course felt more cohesive than the Red, it was the individuality of some of the holes that won me over. If I was to list my favourite ten holes across the resort, half of them would be at the Blue. The 1st with the mountainous high dune and the tucked green is completely non-conforming with most modern day golf architecture and is more akin to the golden age designs in Scotland before earth could be easily moved. Elevation changes are a feature of the opening four holes with the 4th being what I’d describe as a wow hole, where you hit your approach to the top of a hill flanked by towering sand traps and is one of a number of holes which features these odd centre-bunker tufts of grass like trolls heads that have been buried in the sand. The green on this hole again is straight out of golden-age design with the green, unprotected, just following the lie of the land.
A par three then follows that although only a pitch has an intimidating drop-off into deep sand on the left and could play completely differently from one day to the next with pin position on this 70-yard deep green completely changing the complexion of the hole. 7, another great par three is pure theatre; sitting adjacent to the Red’s 16th it’s the signature hole of the resort and playing it, lives up to that billing. Set amongst the dunes that envelope it and only accessible by the beautifully curved footbridge over the alligator infested lake only adds to the tension. Like the Red, there is still maybe a mid-round dip in quality but this is only minor, and late on in the back 9, it does rise back to the same heady heights that it set early in the round. On the day, the 12th was played into the wind making it a fierce carry over water where the lake continued along the length of the latter half of the hole that will make any sliced approach end with a splash. 13 and 14 complement one another well with a wonderful short par four followed by a climbing par 5 with one of those “carry as much as you dare” tee shots over the lake. 17 and 18 then may be the best on the course. The tee on 17 is set amongst the sandy wasteland whilst further up the fairway await a string of diagonally placed cross bunkers at the approach to a rise in the fairway that punish a slightly mishit chance at the green or leave the less brave with a much longer mid to long iron approach to a two tiered green. Similarly, 18 is a spectacular setting with the backdrop of the clubhouse and a fairway that flows like a wave from left to right with some spectacularly placed bunkers that bespeckle the lower right hand side of the fairway.
Streamsong is one of the hottest golf destinations in the world right now (not just in temperature). People debate whether Red or Blue is better, but both are great. I think Streamsong Blue is worthy of its high ranking and praise. I personally like it better than the Red course. The Red comes off a bit gimmicky in spots, while the Blue is balanced. I think the greens on the Blue course are a little more wild, but fun.
I dislike Florida golf because of so many hazards from water, residential communities, and wetland areas. Streamsong is nothing like Florida golf. Wide fairways and interesting greens. Streamsong is as fun as it gets with golf.
Streamsong’s Blue course has been created by Tom Doak and his team at Renaissance Design. The Red and the Blue are perfect compliments to each other and the Blue course enjoys a wonderful flow and is perfectly walkable. I was fortunate to have been able to go out early with only my caddie, take about 50 pictures play relaxed with no rush and walk the course in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Granted that’s fast and the average rounds will take twice that amount of time but the main point is it’s a joy to walk.
Right from the start on top of a high dune Doak takes us out with a visually spectacular and breathtaking risk reward tee shot. A great starting par 4.
After the first hole the Blue course quickly gets challenging. The second hole is a challenging 3 shot par 5, at least for the author. It requires 3 very carefully placed shots and was playing straight into the breeze.
The 3rd hole is challenging as Doak masterfully uses a single bunker to give the feeling that there is hardly any space to aim while in fact there is tons of width to work with.
The 4th hole is one of my favorites. After a challenging drive the approach is to a raised green requiring you to take on one of the biggest blowout bunkers you will see. A beautiful hole with an intimidating semi blind approach.
The run of holes leading up to the visually spectacular par 3 7th all deserve their own detailed description. The 7th on the other hand has become one of the resorts signature holes. It’s a challenging medium length par 3 player from high on a dune over water to a large and crazy green full of undulations.
Fortunately for the visiting golfers there are no let downs on the course. Its just remains very solid with an excellent flow and many interesting and fun holes that blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. The 13th is a unique short par 4, perhaps drivable by some big hitters or in the right wind. The hole narrows significantly the further you try to hit your drive. I did have a bit of a go at it and got away with murder hitting a low-ish straight burner that stopped about 30 short of the green and amazingly out of trouble. After walking up to this area which was largely blind from the tee I have to say I wouldn’t go for it again even though I was rewarded with a 3 after a nice pitch. I wrote that off immediately to “ignorance is bliss”. That however, only works once.
The 17th and 18th are a really tough closing stretch and two excellent holes. The 17th forces a tough choice on the 2nd shot to either lay up or go for it when faces with some tough centerline bunkers placed at a diagonal line running left to right in the direction of the line of play. The 18th is a serious test and excellent closing par 4 requiring a strong drive and mid to long iron than can be chased into a bowl were the last green is located.
Streamsong packs a wonderful experience into these two courses that is surely to only be strengthened by the addition of the Black Course by Gil Hanse. The resort has a excellent high end hotel which while not cheap by any means is located right there and perfectly suits their target clientele. It’s modern luxury and with the next accommodation being more than an hour away in my opinion everyone should stay there and enjoy it.
Florida is not the mental image that comes to mind when you see a picture of the golf course at Streamsong. 12 million yards of earth were moved to build the two courses and it took an otherwise flat terrain and created sand dunes and lots of elevation changes.
The other natural benefit of Streamsong is that Florida was at one time under water, thus the soil is very sandy. Although there are trees at the perimeter of both courses, they do not come into play, both are wide open and bumping and running the ball are a delightfully consistent part of the golf here. The tee areas blend into the fairways and are not really distinctive tee boxes. This no doubt makes mowing and maintenance easy, and creates a lot of options on tee placement.
Nowhere is this more in evidence than the fifth hole, which gives the player many options including putting off the tee. The hole is a downhill par three of between 102 and 150 yards depending on the tees you play and where the pin is. When we got to the tee someone in my group pointed out that you could actually putt the ball to the green given that the flag was front left and there was fairway all the way from tee to green. As I am always up for a stupid challenge I decided to tee off with a putter and ended up about a foot short of the green!
My favorite hole on the Blue course is the par three seventh which is “the” picture hole everyone captures when playing Streamsong, and for good reason. It is such a picturesque hole of between 178 and 203 yards, and a delight to play over water into such a secluded area between the sand dunes. The other hole I really liked is number thirteen, similar to a hole at Pacific Dunes, a par four of between 279 and 312 yards that gets progressively more narrow as you get to the green, which is set up on a hill and is well bunkered.
Some of the greens on the course are border line tricked up, like the twelfth, a par four, with its massive humps and slope. The course has a relatively easy start, but makes up for it with a very difficult finish, especially the 600-yard into the wind 17th hole.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
The Blue course is tremendous fun. Driving areas are fairly open but the challenge is not only to place the ball on the green but to place it in the proper position. Doak has crafted a fascinating set of greens to compliment a beautiful flowing layout. The ground is open and has a definite links look to it, but the turf is not quite firm enough for the course to play like a links. The elevation changes are something to behold for a course in Florida, beginning with the first tee box. I loved many of these holes, particularly the par 4 4th, which was a gentle left dog leg with an approach to an elevated green. There are a great collection of short and long par 3's, all of which challenge you to not only hit the green but hit it in the right location or face a 3 putt or worse. Because of the open fairways I think golfers of all skill levels would enjoy playing this course.
I haven't been to Bandon Dunes yet, though it is next up on my list of golf resorts to visit as I try to play as many top public access courses in the USA as I can. I plan to return to Streamsong to play the newly built Black course when it opens in the fall of 2017, and after I play Bandon I may come back and give an update comparing the two sites. If you are on the east, south or central portion of the USA it's well worth a trip to Streamsong. Is Streamsong Florida’s premier golf resort?
Just got back from a return trip to Streamsong to play the new Black course as well enjoying the Red and Blue again. If anything I think the Blue is better than I thought. The greens are absolutely brilliant. A mis struck iron may find the green but it is on the putting surface that the adventure begins. I always felt like a good shot was rewarded and a bad shot punished but always playable. Great course, great fun, great challenge. Can't wait to go back.