My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences
The Golf Bucket List
#18, Par 5, 505 Yards
The yardage book calls this a par 4, but I believe it's a misprint as the scorecard calls it a par 5, and with the back tees playing from 540 yards, I assume it has to be a par 5. It's a great looking hole, with tall dunes with white sand and scrub brush going down much of the right side of the hole, with the green framed in the back my more tall hills. Off the tee, just avoid the bunker on the left. It's 287 yards to carry it, so you probably need to play alongside it instead. From there, you can attempt to get to the green if you like, but keep in mind that there's a massive false front on the right side of this green. Anything that doesn't make it to the top level will end up back in the collection area right of the hole. Also, depending on the pin position, there is a bunker in the back of the green that will collect balls that trickle long.
Walking back to the clubhouse, I had to snap this picture. Coming from Michigan, I felt like I was walking on a mulch path through snow banks, but obviously this is white sand, not snow!
I really enjoyed the Red Course. I'm not sure it really compares to anything I've ever played. It has the aesthetics of something like Arcadia Bluffs or Whistling Straits, though inland of course. However, it's not as demanding to the average player, or the expert for that matter. Coore/Crenshaw created a really interested course that won't beat up the average player if he/she can keep the ball relatively straight and out of the sand. Based on the views and playability, I can see this becoming a very popular golf destination for the masses. Of course, I say that before the Lodge is built! Regardless, if you're in the area, Streamsong is definitely worth the trip and the Red is a great course that I'd strongly recommend.
#16, Par 3, 184 Yards
Looking back at the 72-yard deep green!
#17, Par 4, 384 Yards
#14, Par 3, 166 Yards
#13, Par 5, 508 Yards
Playing into the wind, and left to right, this was a three shot par 5 for me. Off the tee, the goal is to avoid the large bunker in the middle of the fairway that is 249 yards from the tee. Depending on the wind, you might even take a fairway wood off the tee to be safe. On the second shot, you're aiming to the right of the huge sandy dune area in front of you. From the front tip of the main fairway bunker, it's about 170 yards to reach the dune. Staying comfortably right of that dune will leave an easy pitch into the green, with bunkers left and long, and a collection area right.
#10, Par 4, 431 Yards
#11, Par 4, 408 Yards
#12, Par 4, 472 Yards
Above are the two bunkers connected by more sand. Below is the view from the right of the green, with the large dune protecting the right side.
#8, Par 3, 119 Yards
#9, Par 4, 271 Yards
#7, Par 5, 521 Yards
#6, Par 3, 143 Yards
#5, Par 4, 344 Yards
#4, Par 4, 312 Yards.
#3, Par 4, 391 Yards
#2, Par 5, 508 Yards
The second presents a dogleg right with a drive carrying a large pond. My drive was just a bit to the left of where the bridge crosses to the other wide of the water, and that turned out to be a pretty good line, leaving me just 238 yards into the green. The area around where you'll hit your second includes a pot bunker about 50 yards short of the green. My second shot carried comfortably over this trap and landed just short of the front edge of the green. There is a huge mound with tall grass just to the right of the green. Obviously, this is to be avoided, there is plenty of room to the left to bail out if need be.
The front nine is much shorter than the back, and in my opinion, better than the back as well. The fairways are extremely wide and there is room around most greens to miss without getting yourself into tons of trouble (with notable exceptions!). The greens are fast but hold well, especially for being so new. There are massive undulations, so playing into the slopes or off of backstops is a very useful strategy to get closer to the hole locations. The greens putt extremely true, but again, I played this course a week and a half after it opened, so I can't say for sure whether they'll stay this way or whether I was just fortunate enough to get out there before they got much play on them. In all, this is a really fun course and a good score is very possible.
#1, Par 4, 464 Yards
The first hole is a great welcome to the Red Course, and quite a test as well. It plays downhill off the tee, but it's still 464 yards, so a long iron or fairway wood is likely on your approach. I was very satisfied with my drive and was still left with 205 yards into the green. While they're a bit intimidating to the eye, the bunkers here probably shouldn't come into play. The bunker on the right is only 212 to carry, and the next set of traps are about 290-300 from the tee, so there's a lot of room to land this opening tee shot. The first tee is immediately adjacent to the putting green, so you might have a few onlookers watching your first tee shot. So, take a deep breath and let it go!
Streamsong is a brand new golf resort, situated in a remote location in Central Florida. Its story and construction have been detailed ad nauseum by nearly every golf publication, and a number of other media sources as well. In short, the course is managed by the same people who manage Bandon Dunes, and was built on the site of a former phosphate mine operated by The Mosaic Company. Today, what's left is an out-of-this-world piece of land with steep hills, tall sand dunes, large ponds, colossal undulating greens, and rolling/sloping fairways. The land is amazingly raw, but meticulously conditioned, and the experience is unlike anything you'll ever see in Florida, and with few comparisons in the rest of the USA. The resort consists of two courses which weave across the property, both designed by popular designers of modern golf. The Red Course was signed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, with the Blue Course being drafted by Tom Doak. Both courses opened for public play 12/21/12, and I was fortunate enough to play them both on 12/30/12.
So, some initial thoughts, before I get to the golf. The course is about 1:00 to 1:15 from downtown Tampa. The drive is across a number of back roads and semi-highways of inland Florida, so with traffic lights, it's tough to say exactly how long it takes. Additionally, as you get closer to the course, train tracks are everywhere, as the mined phosphate is loaded onto CSX rails and transported to wherever it goes. I got stuck behind a train that killed nearly 10 minutes. Once you get to the Streamsong entrance, you weave through a few miles of winding road, and at no point is there any semblance of a golf course in your views. The Lodge is currently under construction, and is set to open in late 2013....216 guest rooms are being constructed there. Currently there are 12 guest rooms in the Clubhouse. I'm told they can host parties as large as 16 people, and have pool tables, a four hole putting course, and other amenities perfect for the typical Buddies Trip. This, and whatever amenities are included in the Lodge, will be necessary to keep Buddies Trips busy at night, as there is nothing particularly close to Streamsong after your golf is finished.