My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences
After getting beaten up on the 18th, for some reason, I wanted another opportunity to shine, and luckily Streamsong gave me one. Conveniently located on the walk back to the clubhouse and/or parking lot (not the case when you're coming off the Red Course), Streamsong built a 37th hole to settle bets. This hole wasn't marked, but I played a smooth 9 Iron just a couple feet short of the hole. A cool feature. Take a deep breath, because this is just in front of the clubhouse patio, so you'll probably have a gallery of folks enjoying cocktails in case you leave it short and dunk it in the water. I liked this hole much more than #16, even though the green is way too small for a hole that counts!
So, to summarize, I prefer the Red Course, but the Blue Course is still very very solid. I wish it utilized a few more of the dunes and slopes that were uses on the Red Course and I wish there was a bit more diversity among approach shots rather than so many being uphill shots to sloping greens that you couldn't even see. In addition, like on the Red Course, Streamsong would be good to provide pin sheets as gauging distances to these large greens is somewhat guesswork. Regardless, if you're going to Steamsong just for the Blue Course, it's still worth the trip. I'd suggest playing the Red first, but by all means play them both if you have the time. They're both incredibly unique for Florida, and unique for any part of the country really. There are similar concepts in Whistling Straits, Bandon, Arcadia Bluffs, and others, but if you live or vacation in the Southeast, and the others aren't geographically convenient, by all means, this will give you a somewhat similar experience in many ways. The service was impeccable, the views were amazing, and I was very glad that I made the trek from Tampa to spend a day playing golf at Streamsong.
#18, Par 4, 453 Yards
#18 gave me fits. I'm not sure it's as hard as I made it, but it's pretty hard nonetheless. Long, and straight into the wind. The drive needs to be left to avoid the traps that are 225 and 254 to carry. Just avoid them. Then it's actually a downhill approach to the green which is framed by two large dunes off in the distance between the green and the clubhouse. This is a tough finish to a tricky course.
#16, Par 3, 215 Yards
My least favorite hole on the Blue. I just think it's odd. Uphill, and with the angle of the tee box, plays awkwardly to the right, with a vast area of open space where the tees are aiming you, but ample bunkers protecting the front of the green. Being way uphill, I pulled 3 wood, and hit a very solid shot just left of the hole, where there is TONS of room to bail. From there, a simple chip and blown short putt yielded a ho-hum bogey. I just didn't really get this hole and thought so much more could have been done. By looks, it almost seemed more like a short par 4 than a long par 3, though clearly the length was that of a par 3. This hole could have been found anywhere in the country. With a piece of land like this and with so many more great holes, I just expected more.
#17, Par 5, 573 Yards
So, #16 underachieved, and #17 overachieved. This was a really cool hole with sand in basically every landing area, making you really think your way to the green. I stayed left of the bunker that flanks the fairway to the right, and left myself 320 yards into the green. From there, it's a tricky shot over cross bunkers that cross the fairway diagonally, and almost resemble the slightest bit the 4th hole at Bethpage Black (a stretch, but it's that idea). The approach is uphill (shocking!). Take a moment to look back to the tee when you arrive at the green and note that all the bunkers that were visible along the way are no longer visible when looking back.
#15, Par 4, 398 Yards
Into the wind, and again, the junk on the left is reachable (as I did). The green is pretty severely sloping which makes up for the otherwise, fairly trouble-free green
#14, Par 5, 510 Yards
While the tee shot appears demanding, this hole is an opportunity to score. A solid drive went a little left of the bunkers and hit a little speed slot, which left me only 221 yards into the hole. I was in between clubs from there, but with a slightly uphill shot (the vast majority of approaches on this course are uphill if you haven't noticed), I hit a 3 wood and pulled it a bit into some junk left of the green and a little long. There is ample room to miss this green as long as you miss on the back half of the green. The front of the green is pretty tightly protected by sand.
#13, Par 4, 292 Yards
Another short par 4 (love it!), and a really cool looking one. I'm not sure going for the green is really a smart play in this case. Water is all the way down the left and treacherous bunkers are short. Missing to the right is the miss, the bunkers of the right are 252 uphill to carry, so you have to hit a fairly strong drive to carry them and get into the safe area. Regardless, when I have one chance to play a course, I pull driver. This turned out to be okay in the end, but I hit my drive into the sand on the right. After a heroic bunker shot to about 8 feet, I had a simple putt for birdie but left it about one inch short and had to settle for a solid par.
#10, Par 3, 161 Yards
Turn back the other way after the 9th hole, and you're on the back nine. Downhill, this hole was 181 yards to the middle when I played, and a 3/4 5 Iron ended up left of the average sized green. No tricks here--what you see is what you get.
#11, Par 4, 408 Yards
Two bunkers divide the fairway in half. The first bunker is a 222 yard carry, and it's 266 to carry them both. This hole played straight into the wind, and I was left with a full 5 wood, uphill and into the wind to get pin high. A bunker guards the front left of the green.
#12, Par 4, 390 Yards
With 298 yards to go through the fairway, you can probably let it go off the tee. I didn't hit much of a drive and left myself 177 yards to the green. The approach is a really cool look over an area of junk to a fairly narrow green, especially in the front with bunkers very very close to the edges.
#8, Par 4, 437 Yards
So, after my hike the wrong way after #7, going uphill, then down, and still facing a long walk back over the bridge and up another hill, I was a little winded getting to the 8th tee! With a hurting wind, this was a long hole, but I made it longer by hitting a horrible tee shot. A large pond is short left of the green, which is yet another uphill approach with bunkers surrounding the green. And yet again, the cranes aren't that much to look at, but once construction is finished, I guess this will be a nice view of the Lodge.
#9, Par 5, 541 Yards
I'm usually a little down on blind tee shots, but this one works, probably due to the cool bunkers that are eye-catching, yet clearly just for show. The landing area is large, but the hole tightens up as you get closer. This was clearly a three shot hole for me and the approach was slightly uphill with dunes and sand behind the hole. There is also an area of trees and junk to the left of the fairway in the layup zone...keep your layup out of this.
#6, Par 4, 317 Yards
I'm a sucker for a fun short par 4, and #6 was just that. A really cool hole, which appears really easy, but can play devilishly tricky if you're not careful. I don't come to Tampa too often, so I decided to pull driver and see how close I could get. The green is just in front of the huge dune that houses the first tee, so it's a cool look from the tee. I rode a left-to-right wind and hit a power fade to about 40 yards short of the green. The pin was in the back left, and the front half of the green rolls away from the player, so what I thought was a really good chip shot, skidded away from me and just missed going in the hole, but ended up trickling off the green! When the pin is back right, be careful!
#5, Par 3, 121 Yards
Don't let the yardage fool you. There isn't much easy about this hole. Like the 16th on Red, this green is 74 yards deep, though unlike the 16th, this hole only played 121 yards to the middle, and played on a bit of an angle from where the black tees are. The back tees (green) are more on a straight line. What made it hard though, was the wind straight into my face. So, I had 126 yards to the middle, and 160 yards to the back edge. The pin was in the back, and it took a full 5 iron to get to the back right of the green. My ball trickled off the green and came to rest in a sprinkler head. After relief, I was left with a tricky shot to a pin that was perched on a plateau on the green. I hit it a little bit too hard and failed to get it up-and-down. Again, behind the green you can see the Lodge being built. I assume in a few months, the view will be better!
#4, Par 4, 417 Yards.
After a dull second and third hole, this is where I thought the front nine started to get more interesting, and impressive. A second straight dogleg left par 4, the fourth hole played straight downwind, and a bomb of a drive left me only 92 yards into the green. Again, the bulk of the trouble is on the left, with ample room to bail on the right, though bailing was the last thing on my mind with a 54 degree wedge in hand! And, again, the approach is uphill. This was getting a little repetitive to me, but on the fourth, some huge bunkers made the uphill approach athletically much more appealing that the dull approach on the third. This turned into my first par on the Blue.
#3, Par 4, 370 Yards
Dogleg left and into the wind. Water down the left side, but it shouldn't really come into play. The aiming point is left of the bunker in the middle of the fairway, which is 227 to carry from the black tees, and at the trees in the distance. My drive did just that, and ended up just to the left of the that second bunker, leaving 136 yards to the green. There's plenty of room to the left of these traps where you don't really have to take them on. From there, it's another uphill approach to the green. If you're going to miss on this approach, miss right to avoid junk to the left. In the background, you can see cranes which are working on what will be the Lodge at Streamsong.
#1, Par 4, 330 Yards
The tee shot on #1 is one of the best parts of the Blue Course. The tee box sits perched on top of the largest hill in sight. The starter was kind enough to give me a ride to the top. If you're walking and you aren't as lucky, you have quite a hike to the top, and equally taxing, quite a hike to the bottom (which I did without the starter's assistance). After getting to the top and enjoying the panoramic view of the entire property, you must focus on your first tee shot. While the Red opens up with a long par 4, Tom Doak chose to ease you into the round with a short par 4. Driver isn't necessary, but I hit it anyway to an obviously downhill target area, and was left with only 116 yards into a green that goes steeply back uphill and between two bunkers that front the front flanks of the green. After hitting a lousy wedge short, and then a poor chip past the hole, I was faced with the challenge of being above the hole didn't respect the speed of the perfectly rolling Streamsong greens, which resulted in an ugly 3-putt and a double bogey to start my second round of the day.
View from the Tee:
After reviewing the Streamsong Red Course first, I decided to sit back and reflect a little before publishing my review of the Blue Course. My trip around the Blue was different from the Red. First off, I played it by myself, so the opinions I'll post are purely mine, and weren't influenced either positive or negatively by any playing partners. Second, I played the Blue as my second 18 holes of the day--I carried my bag on both the Red and the Blue. My back was sore that day, so I was a little tired toward the end of the day and I didn't want that to influence my review. Again, the course was only nine days old when I played, so it was in immaculate condition. The course opened 12/21/12, and I had the opportunity to play 12/30/12.
After thinking back on my round on the Blue, I have come to a few realizations and opinions:
- I prefer the Red Course, though not by as much as I probably thought at the time. I think there are some really good holes on the Blue Course, but I also experienced some holes that I disliked on the Blue.
- I found the Blue Course more difficult. The Red is a bit softer on shots that are missed by a little and harder on shots that are missed by a lot.....the Blue was tougher on shots that were missed by a little, with bunkers right on the edges of greens, and with no rough, shots that are a bit off can trickle into them.
- The routing of the Blue is a little bit tougher to walk. It's entirely possible that this was because I played it second in the day, but thinking back to some of the walks to tees, I think I believe it anyway.
I'm not going to spend tons of time on Streamsong in general. If you'd like a few words on its origin and such, please go to my post on the Red
. Otherwise, I'm going to dive right into the review of the Blue. First off, the length is fairly similar to the red. Playing 7,176 all the way back (74.1/131), and with four sets of tees, the Blue can stretch to be quite a test. Like on the Red, I played the black tees, which were the second from the back, and played 6,698 yards (72.0/127) and to a par of 72. All the yardages quoted below will reflect playing from the Black Tees, marked again by pieces of railroad track.