Florida Desert Golf?
No one had to tell us that the wind was howling. As we strolled the windswept fairways of Streamsong Black, sand from the bunkers was encroaching on our expansive playing space. Approaching the punchbowl 9th green you can’t help but pick out perhaps one of the tallest structures on the course – an old windmill, unseen wind blowing through. The windmill comes in handy as a directional frame of reference, a sculptured ridge surrounds and protects the massive putting green.
Wind was not going to spoil our visit to this golfer’s paradise, which, in hindsight, made the entire experience a little more special. I knew it was going to be a good day right from the get go, having the pleasure and guidance around the course from Head Professional Matt Jordan. I hit what I thought was a pretty good drive on the first hole and just managed to avoid the huge waste bunker jutting into fairway #1, using my new Hot Launch 3 Tour Edge Driver. When I only had about 205 left for my second shot on the opening par 5, I was only about 10 yards behind Matt and was all smiles. My 5 wood put me on the green. Putting for eagle on the 1st hole at Streamsong Black – how good would that be that?!? Had I made eagle I would be calling it a day! Thankfully both Pro and I made birdies and we continued on.
Streamsong Black is the creation of the new darling of the golf design world, Gil Hanse. Brought into the world spotlight in being selected over the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Gary Player to design the 2016 Olympic venue for the Rio Games.
Black is the 3rd course at Streamsong and has been named 2017’s BEST NEW COURSE by Golf Magazine. Red is the collaboration of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw while Blue is a Tom Doak design. Both opened in 2013 and are respectively ranked #1 and #3 respectively on Golf Digest’s list of Florida’s Best Public Courese and #10 and #14 on Golf Digest’s Top Courses You Can Play in the U.S.
On this trip we did not get a chance to play Red and Blue but we did get a sneak peek at a few of the holes and I can say that I can’t wait to go back!
You don’t generally think desert golf when you go to Florida, so expect the unexpected at Streamsong. From what we could see of Red and Blue, you might see more dramatic dune structure, where Black has even more in the way of waste and bunkering! Either way enough to fill your boots.
Let’s call golf at Streamsong “Dramatic Fun!” Imagine yourself at a theme park and enjoy the roly-poly ride! Hanse said it himself “The game of golf needs more fun in it and I think this course has a ton of fun in it”.
Fairways are wide and you are told right off the bat that you won’t lose many balls. I managed to lose one by getting greedy on the next par 5 but still managed an 83 on this wind swept day! One of my playing partners “Big Dog” – Tim Baines might not agree as he lost a few more balls, but then he loses some wherever he plays!
While it is fun to hit greens and keeping the ball in play the real fun at Streamsong Black is on the putting green. 11 acres of putting green in fact! You may think you are on a green but you may be 50 -60 yards from the hole and your journey like that on a roller coaster ride. In many cases the greens and the surrounding areas all look like one (and for the most part putt like one) they have marked the official green space and you can notice that there are sprinkler heads that also help distinguish green from fringe. Take some time on the practice green as it might just save you the 3 putts and, even worse, the dreaded 4 putt!
It was my first Hanse course and I look forward to many more. Superb layout with the longer par 4’s and 5’s having unique character, some drivable par 4’s and variety in the par 3’s, including a shorty – the 15th – just in case you need a little push to get you home. It is protected somewhat but do play for some wind – believe me – bunkered – but saved par.
The Red and Blue Course are on one part of the 16,000 acre property that was formerly a phosphate mine. Black is on another part of the property with a clubhouse made predominately of glass allowing for views of the entire course. We walked Black with caddies, which I would highly recommend. The caddies are well worth it! $120.00 tip in is recommended.
Streamsong is located about 1.5 hours southwest of Orlando and has been described as being in the middle of nowhere and not even the folks at Streamsong will try to tell you otherwise. But it is a golfer’s heaven in the middle of nowhere! So what is a golfer to do?!? 3 World Class Courses! Can’t just play one – right? Book yourself into the beautifully appointed Lodge, both casual and fine dining with exceptional fine wine that I can attest too! Don’t overlook a clubhouse meal or two while at Streamsong – you will not be disappointed.