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.
Date: November 04, 2019