My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences

#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

#16 is probably the signature hole of the Red Course, and is immediately adjacent to #7 of the Blue Course. Both are par 3's that must carry water and are on opposite sides of a huge dune.  #16 on the Red is on the left, and is the tougher hole, but probably not quite as photogenic.  As I mentioned earlier, the green is 72 yards deep!  So, when I played it, it was 159 yards to the front, and 194 to the middle, and I couldn't really tell whether the pin was on the front or on the middle.  The hole is a "Biarritz" design with a massive swale in the middle of the green.  It's so steep, and the carry is so tough, that I can't imagine stopping a ball on the front tier when the pin is located there.  Left of the narrow green is a huge downhill collection area that no-doubt will become a common place for balls to end up.

Looking back at the 72-yard deep green!

#17, Par 4, 384 Yards

With a huge sand area to the right off the tee, your main strategy is simply to avoid it.  It's 286 to reach the trap through the fairway, so if you have a shot like that in your bag, you might want to lay up with a 3 wood or so since this isn't a terribly long hole.  Up by the green, the bailout area is right, and it's enormous as it goes probably 50 yards to the right, with the 18th tee in that area, and as usual, no rough.  I had to snap a picture of my playing partner below to show what it might look like if you hit into one of the huge mounds or dunes.  He was easily 10 feet up, and some of the dunes on this course were 20-30 feet high.

#15, Par 4, 453 Yards
Four holes left at the Red Course, and none of them are breathers.  The 453 yards of the 15th are a test, and leaving a drive on the right side of the fairway will likely leave a blind second shot that must clear a tall dune to an uphill target.  To avoid that blind second shot, you need to take on the bunker that lines the left side of the landing area, and is about 259 to carry, depending on your line. 

#14, Par 3, 166 Yards

The first of two tough par 3's on the back side, #14 played downwind with a left to right cross wind which made it tough to avoid the right bunker.  There are bunkers on all four sides of the green, but it was the right hand bunker that was toughest to avoid.  Luckily, I was able to get up and down from the sand.  As an aside, I really enjoyed the sand at Streamsong--soft but no buried lies, and very playable.

#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  

Tough hole.  The tee shot makes it look like there isn't much room to land a drive, and for a long uphill par 4 that played into the wind, needing to carry what looks like endless sand--it's a intimidating look.  The reality is that there's more room to the right than you can see from the tee.  Regardless, I was still left with a full 5 wood into the green, and tugged it a little into a large collection area on the left.

#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, 472 Yards

A long par 4!  However, the landing area is on a down-slope, so if you carry your drive long enough, you can hit a speed slot that will advance the ball long enough to make the hole play a little shorter.  I was left 203 yards into the hold, and hit a solid 5 wood right into the middle of the green.  Bunkers are to the right of the green, and water is right of that.  

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


Another short par 3, but wind and pin position are important.  The green is in the shape of a lightning bolt, with lots of bunkers punishing a missed shot.  Being a wedge shot, it's fair that this green requires precision.  There are two tee angles on this hole, but the back tees play from the right side, which is a tougher angle coming in.  The pin was middle left when we played.  Just a smooth PW for me.

#9, Par 4, 271 Yards

An uphill short par 4 can be driven depending on the winds.  It was blowing right to left when I played, and I didn't catch all of it, but still had only 68 yards into the green.  The sand down the right side is only 192 to carry, but it's the pot bunkers fronting the green that are probably the biggest concern.  They're deep and are only 242 from the tee.  They guard the front of the shallowest section of the green which is shaped like a sideways "T."  The pin was on that right side when we played and the approach makes it feel like the pin is cut right on the top lip of the bunker.  At its narrowest point, this side of the green is about 18 yards deep, while it's 40 yards deep on the left side.

#7, Par 5, 521 Yards

Seven plays as a slight dogleg left, with water all the way down the left side.  There's ample room down the right the entire way.  An interesting feature I noticed on this hole was the large bunker on the left where two different bunkers are actually separated by...more sand.  Not sure I've ever seen anything like this.  Also, to the side of the green is a huge dune that will really disturb a shot off line.

#6, Par 3, 143 Yards

Six is the first par three on the golf course.  The shot requires a carry over water and then a large bunker that guards the right side of the green.  Huge dunes frame the hole on the left and rear, but with the size of the green and the length of the hole, they probably shouldn't come into play.  I hit the green with 9 iron, so it's not terribly demanding.

#5, Par 4, 344 Yards

This one played straight into the wind.  My drive left me with 148 yards into the hole, and from there, I pulled 6 iron, hit it flush and was still short.  Needless to say, there was a lot of wind this day!  The drive is a bit like the one on #2.  Dogleg right hole that needs to cut over some water.  From 344, this was workable.  The back tees were 453 yards though--that would have been a test!  Going into the green, water is on the right.  Yet another case where right is dead, but there's tons of room to bail to the left.

#4, Par 4, 312 Yards.

Number four holds a special place in my heart.  I'm going to claim that I made the first ever eagle at this hole.  It's possible that this isn't the case, but unless anyone tells me that they eagled this hole prior to about 8:50 on 12/30/12, I'm going to claim it.  My drive went to the left of the large bunker that splits the fairway.  From there, I only had about 72 yards into a wide, but shallow green that looks somewhat like a horseshoe, with pot bunkers separating the right and left side.  Long of the green is a bunker and another huge mound/dune.  Obviously, long would be a bad miss.  The pin was on the left when I played, and my 54 degree wedge landed about 6 feet short of the hole, and trickled in.  Eagle!

#3, Par 4, 391 Yards

Water is on the left for this tee shot, but it's only about 215 to carry from the black tees, so with a decent drive, it probably shouldn't come into play.  The bunker through the fairway is 276 from the tee, but this hole is a bit downhill and played downwind and to the left when I was there, so I was able to carry my drive past the bunker and into the junk.  Similar to #2, you can't miss your approach on the right, but there is tons of room on the left to bail.

#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.  

The Clubhouse itself is unlike anything I've ever seen, and made me feel like I was on the West Coast somewhere.  Dark wood, granite, and other stone make for a unique look that feels more like a modern home on the Pacific than a Clubhouse.  However, it's very classy inside, and seems to have anything a golf resort requires.  When I was there, there was very limited selection in the Golf Shop, and the bar/restaurant still seemed to be figuring itself out, but I'll chalk that up to being only nine days old!
They say these courses were designed for walking.  I'd say that the Red was an easier walk than the Blue, but I played 36 holes on one day and played the Blue second, so maybe I was just tired.  Caddies are recommended, but I thought they wouldn't be very helpful since the course was so new, so I just carried my own bag.  Big props to the course for letting you carry your own bag.  Carts are available as well, but a forecaddy is required when you ride.  Walking the course includes lots of up-and-downs, and walks through both hard packed sand and very soft beachy sand, depending on the location.  When I played, it was about 40 degrees when I teed off, and never warmer than about 55.  Had it been 90+ and humid, this walk would have been even more of a grind!  
Unlike the Ocean Course at Kiawah, all sand is played as a hazard.  I'm not sure what I think of this policy.  I think it worked when the course was so new, but there are acres upon acres of what I would consider "waste areas" with no raking, and in some cases very soft sand.  The footprints left in these area can be huge.  I guess being able to ground your club doesn't do you any good, but it seems excessive when you're already faced with such a tough lie.  I don't know, I have to think more about this.

Both courses were $175 to walk.  Playing 36 in the same day, I was able to play the Blue second at a replay rate of $90.  Both prices are before tax.  Caddies and carts are extra, and they do have push carts available to rent, though I was unsure if that would really be helpful with all the hills and soft sand to navigate through.
Since these courses just opened, they obviously aren't in any Course Rankings yet.  However, I'd say they're a shoe-in for the Top 100 Public rankings and possibly the Top 100 in America as well.  They're impressive.
Red Course Review
Streamsong Red is the first Coore/Crenshaw course I've played, but from what I've read, I think it's fairly consistent with their design philosophy.  One of the people I played with couldn't stop saying the word "unique" on almost every hole, and I think that's a good description.  The course works extremely well with the national flow of the land, and I understand they moved a very small amount of dirt in its construction, as per usual for this minimalist design team.  Neither course has any rough, outside of tall grass, and a few square feet here and there on the edges of ponds.  Otherwise, it's fairway, greens, and sand.  Around the greens, this makes for some challenging chips/pitches, and depending on the situation, I found myself using all three wedges as well as a fariways wood around the greens.  The greens on the Red are massive, so having an idea where the pin is located is critical.  When I played, the forecaddy in our group didn't have a pin sheet.....not sure if this is normal, but with the sizes of the greens, they'll need to arm the caddies with more distance information going forward.  For example, the par 3 16th has a green that is literally 72 yards deep.  From the tips, the front edge is 176 yards, while it's 244 to the back.  Pretty touch to pick a club without having a good idea where the pin is, and with 72 yards, your eye is only so good.  This made me wish I had bought a rangefinder rather than a GPS, especially since the courses weren't available on my Callaway GPS yet.  There are four sets of tees at both courses.  The green tees at the Red play 7,148 yards and are recommended for handicaps of six and below.  I played the black tees, which were the next set up, and played from 6,584 yards, a par of 72, and a rating/slope of 71.7/125.  I'll quote the black tees in my review, since I would think the majority of players will play from there.  The tee markers on both courses are pieces of railroad tracks, which, as I said, are commonplace around this course due to all the mining that goes on.

Streamsong Resort

Red Course

Checked off the Bucket List December 30, 2012

Golf Magazine:

#52, Top 100 Courses in the U.S. (2013)   

Golf Digest:

#100, America's 100 Greatest Courses (2015-2016)