The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Streamsong Resort (Red)


Streamsong, Florida | Streamsong Resort (Red)

Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw
Year: 2013

3000 Dunes Pass, Streamsong, Florida 33834
(863) 354-6980

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available
on-site accommodations


The hottest story in the golf nerdosphere for the last 12 months has been Streamsong Resort in Polk County, Florida. For those who may not have heard about it – have you been living under a rock??? – I’ll give a brief background on the project. Streamsong Resort is a development venture with the goal of repurposing a phosphate mining site that has been owned and operated by The Mosaic Company for over 50 years. Apparently The Mosaic Company, or someone in their organization, thought the terrain created by their mining operation was ideal for golf and would make excellent use for the site once the mining was complete. I’m no golf course developer, but it sure seems logical to me that already owning great land is a big part of the golf course riddle . . . and one that makes things significantly less expensive.

When the time came to start the project The Mosaic Company hired two of today’s hottest names in golf course design to lay out 36 holes on the site. Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design created what would become the Blue Course and Coore & Crenshaw handled the design on what would be named the Red Course. As an interesting side note, I was told that the courses were named based on the color of pens that the architects used during the routing process. Both teams worked on the site simultaneously, so it would be interesting to know how much, if any, collaboration there was on the courses. It would seem that having two of the best architects in the business working on the same site should yield some fantastic ideas.

One thing is for sure . . . Having two of the best architects in the business on the same site yielded a ton of hype and a lot of anticipation among the golf media. Just about every media outlet that covers golf in even the smallest way has done a story on the resort in the last 12 months. To say that the golf media and golfing public was excited about Streamsong Resort would be a gross understatement.

Finally, after months of anticipation the resort did a soft opening in late 2012 with their official grand opening scheduled for early 2013. The 250 room hotel is not slated to open until late 2013 so for the first few months of operations the only accommodations available on site will be the rooms above the clubhouse which are able to sleep 16. Luckily we were able to secure some of these rooms when we booked our January 2013 trip back in June of 2012.

So, we had a group of 11 going on the trip and I was going to be one of the first arrivals. Hans, my friend from Boston, and I both flew into Orlando and made the 90 minute drive to the resort. If you haven’t heard of Polk County, don’t feel bad. It is literally in the middle of NOWHERE. The closest town is Lakeland which is about 20 minutes away. The resort itself is situated in the middle of a 16,000 acre property owned by The Mosaic Company and during the final part of the drive I can almost guarantee you will be asking yourself “Am I really going the right way??” It’s pretty remote out there.

Hans and I arrived around 3PM and quickly dropped our bags with the valet so we could go directly to the course and try to get in as many holes as possible before dark. We would be playing the course the next day also so it was nice to get an early preview before everyone else in our group. Since we were moving quickly for our late afternoon round the photos below were actually taken during my round the following day. We played from the 6,584 yard black tees both rounds so that’s the yardages that are listed below.

Hole 1 – 464 Yards – Par 4
The Red Course starts out with a beast of a par 4 that plays 464 yards. Below is a photo taken from the 1st tee. Don’t be intimidated by the water as its really only about a 100 yard carry. It really shouldn’t cause any trouble. The bunker on the right is in play and can be carried. Tee balls that go too far to the right will find a lake that is hiding on the edge of the fairway behind that bunker. The bunker on the left would take a pretty long drive to come into play but with wind, anything is possible. There is water on the far left side too which I didn’t see anyone hit into but suspect its possible if you go really wide left.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
The approach shot into the green is probably going to be a really long one. Below is a view of the green from about 70 yards out.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a look back down the fairway from behind the green. Note the water mentioned above on both sides of the fairway.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 2 – 508 Yards – Par 5
At the 2nd tee we get a nice risk/reward opportunity. The tee shot on this par 5 can be played ultra safe by hitting towards the left side of the fairway or it can be played aggressively by aiming further right. I aimed over the left-most side of the bridge and was able to make the carry without much trouble.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the approach into the green. The center bunker needs to be avoided on the layup shot.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
And here is a little closer look at the green. Note the undulations which were not uncommon on this course.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 3 – 391 Yards – Par 4
From the elevated tee box the green and flag are not visible. The hole doglegs to the right and players who can hit their tee shots closer to the right side of the fairway will have a shorter approach and better view of the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a view of the green. Note the way the ground moves from the left to the right here. Approach shots down the left side will have a chance of getting a good bounce onto the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 4 – 312 Yards – Par 4
The 4th hole brings us our first short par 4. I really liked this hole because of what I thought was a really well placed fairway bunker. Depending on what side of the green the flag is on will determine the best side of the fairway to drive the ball. Tee shots hit to the opposite side of the fairway from the pin will have to carry the bunker in the front of the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a look at the 4th green. Note that the green wraps all the way behind the bunker which also happens to be shaped very similar to a principals nose bunker. It’s also worth mentioning here that the long native grass that grows on the perimeter of many holes is very penal. Balls that are it into this have very little chance, if any, of being found. Fortunately the fairways are very generous and the native grass doesn’t come into play all that much.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 5 – 344 Yards – Par 4
Here we have another par 4 that is not overly long. Players who choose to challenge the water and take an aggressive line will be rewarded with a shorter approach shot into the green. A 200-220 yard tee ball over the short side of the water is the safe play and still leaves a mid to short iron into the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the 5th green with some large bunkers waiting for approach shots that go long.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 6 – 143 Yards – Par 3
Our first one shot hole is a dramatic one. The green is absolutely HUGE. Hitting the middle of the green here does not guarantee a two putt . . . or even a three putt.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the green from the left side.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 7 – 521 Yards – Par 5
After holing out on the 6th hole we climbed up a steep hill to the top of a dune to hit our next tee shot. This par 5 again allows for players to decide how aggressive they would like to be. With a good wind and an aggressive line even players who are not that long may have a chance to hit the green in two.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the second shot on this hole. The flag is just barely poking up above the dune in the middle of the fairway.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Yes, I did say dune in the middle of the fairway. I don’t know exactly what you call this thing, but I called it a reverse bunker. I hit my ball onto it and had to play a shot that was exactly like what I would have played from a regular bunker. It was weird to be up on top of it instead of down in it.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 8 – 119 Yards – Par 3
Typically I’m a huge fan of the Coore & Crenshaw short par 3s and this one was no exception. A wedge or short iron is all that is needed here, but the bunkers are pretty penal and the green is huge so hitting it close to the flag is a good idea.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a closer look at the green. I love the way it wraps around the bunker. Very cool. With a front hole location that bunker is going to get a lot of action.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 9 – 271 Yards – Par 4
The last hole on the front side is the shortest par 4 on the course. A very driveable hole . . . especially if the wind is helping. Take dead aim at the left side of the green and let it rip.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a closer look at the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 10 – 431 Yards – Par 4
From a short par 4 we go directly to a fairly long par 4. The waste area is only about a 150 yard carry, but it is a little intimidating from the tee. Driving the ball up the right side of the fairway is probably the best advice here.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a look a the 10th green. The terrain around the green moves right to left and approach shots that come in on the right side will have a chance to bounce onto the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 11 – 408 Yards – Par 4
This hole is a healthy uphiller that plays longer than it looks. The bunker in the middle of the fairway is in play off the tee and must be avoided at all costs.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a view of the uphill approach into the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 12 – 472 Yards – Par 4
Here we have an absolute beast of a par 4. At 472 yards this hole is no joke. The hole bends to the left and a tee ball that is down the middle will provide the best look into the green. The bunker on the left side is reachable if there is a helping wind.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the VERY long approach shot into the green. I have to say that I liked this hole. Sometimes its fun to hit a 3 wood into a par 4. While its pretty gratifying to pull off a shot like that, I wouldn’t want to have to do it more than once in a round.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 13 – 508 Yards – Par 5
Here we have a nice uphill par 5. The bunker in the center of the fairway is in play so players must decide if they are going to aim to the right or left.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
The green here is tucked behind a good sized dune so players who are going for this green in two will need to make an aggressive shot over the dune. Players who are laying up can knock a shot to the right side of the dune and be left with a short pitch to the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a look at the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 14 – 166 Yards – Par 3
This mid length one shot hole is fairly straight forward. The best strategy is to knock it on the green and avoid the bunkers.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 15 – 453 Yards – Par 4
Here we have another long par 4 and this one plays uphill. The bunker on the left side can be carried and the bunkers on the right side are in play so its important to choose a good line off the tee here. The bunker on the left is not anywhere that you want to visit so players who are aggressive need to make sure they pull off their shot.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the approach into the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 16 – 184 Yards – Par 3
Here we come to a fantastic par 3. This played into the wind both rounds and I hit a 200 yard shot both times. I hit the green once and missed the other. The green is a wild one so hitting the putting surface with your tee shot is not an automatic par.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a look at the green from the side view. I’m not sure if it officially qualifies as a biarritz, but it sure does in my book.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
And here is a view from the back of the green looking towards the tee box. Thats a pretty long green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 17 – 384 Yards – Par 4
Coming to a close of our round we hit the final par 4. The bunker in the distance is in play for longer hitters. Shorter hitters can aim out to the left and end up behind the bunker and longer players can aim towards the right-most edge of the bunker and end up in the middle of the fairway. Both options don’t leave a terribly long approach shot.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the green site. The bunker on the left is going to catch approach shots that go left when trying to reach a back pin. Even ones that go left above the bunker will likely end up in the bunker because of the lack of rough. When the hole is up front this bunker is not in play near as much.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a look at the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Hole 18 – 505 Yards – Par 5
We close out the Red course with a nice par 5. The hole bends a little bit to the left so hitting a drive up the middle or right side is going to give the best angle for the second shot.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Below is a view of my 3rd shot into the green after a not so great lay up shot. Not the mounding on the right side of the green. Balls that get too far to the right have a high likelihood of rolling right off the green.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Here is a little closer view of the mounding.
 
Streamsong Resort (Red Course)
 
Despite the fact that we were racing daylight Hans and I managed to finish the full 18 hole round on Thursday afternoon. We really sped around so it wasn’t quite the leisurely game that we had the next day, but a course like this is a treat to play even in a speed round. The course is very playable for all handicaps with its wide fairways and large greens, but there are a couple of blind shots and forced carries can make the course a little intimidating for the high handicapper. Fortunately, Coore & Crenshaw gave plenty of options in these situations so there are a number of ways for players to work their way around the course. One of the things I really liked was the mixture of long and short par 4s. As I mentioned above, its fun to hit a 3 wood into a par 4 every now and then and who doesn’t love the opportunity to rip a driver and have a chance at an eagle putt on a par 4?? On top of the course’s playability and pure fun factor it’s hard not to enjoy golf that is set on such a beautiful site. Many of the holes are aesthetically dramatic which always adds to the pleasure of a round.

One other note I’ll mention is the accommodations above the clubhouse. Not only are the rooms incredibly nice but there is a game room upstairs with a pool table, big screen TV, card table and hang out area. This makes for a perfect setup for a large group of guys on a golf trip. I’m sure the hotel will be great when it is built but the clubhouse rooms seem to be the perfect setup for a pure golf trip with the guys. Overall the facility is absolutely fantastic with some world class golf. Streamsong Resort is a perfect escape for those of us who live in parts of the country where golf weather is at a minimum during the winter months. Don’t miss out on this one! A profile of the Blue Course coming next.

  • Joseph Demidovich

    Enjoyed the review and the photos! Looking forward to your profile on the Blue course.

  • Barry

    I had the opportunity to talk to Ben Crenshaw in June about Streamsong. It is now obvious why he was so excited about the resort opening.

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      I just spent 2 days with you at Streamsong and not once did you mention your conversation with Crenshaw??? You’re holding out on me Barry!!!!

  • Barry

    That was a conversation for day 3. One of us left early!!!!

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      I guess I cannot argue with that!

  • ortho69

    A usual, great pics and review. i will be there this weekend
    for doak’s annual Renaissance Cup. Can’t wait!! BTW, how fast
    were the greens running?

    thanks

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      I didn’t ever hear an official number on what the greens were running, but they were very nice. If I had to guess I’d say there were at an 11 or so. They rolled really nicely. You will like them.

  • Mark

    Where does this course fit among the C&C courses you have played?

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      I’ve only played 5 C&C courses and I’ve really liked all of them. Sand Hills is still my favorite, but I’d say that Streamsong is right behind it.

  • Ed

    I’m going to assume these courses are top 100 worthy….

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      In my opinion its a definite YES.

  • Rob

    Love the Red Course. The dune living on holes 16 and 18 is breathtaking. 15 and 16 are my favorite holes and the Root Beer floats made with Hank’s Gourmet Root Beer are the best on the planet!

  • Great write up. Can’t wait for the 2nd round. http://wp.me/p32cTD-1j

  • JC

    Was this part of the Golfweek Rater retreat?

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      No it was not. I am not a rater for any publication. It was just a group of my friends.

  • Buck Leigh

    Can you walk it? Are the greens maintained like a 1st class country club with green speeds 10-12 on the stimpt? No mention of the practice range?

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Buck,

      Yes, walking is encouraged at Streamsong Resort. They have caddies available or you can rent a pushcart. If you want to carry your own bag that is allowed too. The greens were rolling really nice while we were there. I don’t know what they would have stimped at but I had no complaints and I play on 10-12 greens at my home course. Keep in mind that some of the greens were quite undulating and they may not have been designed for super fast green speeds. The maintenance crew is clearly top notch and I have no question that they will have them running at the ideal speed for the contours. There was a very basic practice range by the 18th hole of the Red Course. Nothing fancy but very serviceable.

  • JW

    Any pictures of the game room, restaurant, or the rooms? Thanks.

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      I’m afraid not JW. As usual I nerd out on the golf course and forget to take pics of the clubhouse, etc. Sorry!

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  • Rob

    Just played streamsong red today…awesome course.. perfect condition..like the mix of short par 4″ and long par 4’s…anybody and everybody should get out there and check it out…cant imagine what sand hills is like if its better than this..cant wait to play the blue course

  • Gerald

    Just played the BLUE…Wow what a treasure to have here in Tampa. We need to claim this remote facility for the Tampa market before Orlando does. (LOL) Wonderful course, tremoundous challenge but so much reward for well struck shot. RED is next, cant wait. Going to play it every week till the resort in done because I fear it will be 300-500 per round then…By far the greatest course I have ever played. And clearly the best public facilty in Florida..

  • michael nowacki

    I agree that the rooms are nice and the food is also good. It’s a great golf retreat. I liked the course a lot but I think it is at its peak rating. The holes are good but the fairways are gigantic and hard to miss. I bomb the ball off the tee and I like courses that challenge my accuracy. There was essentially no strategy required off the tee, just driver after driver. The severity of the green on #16 turned a very strong hole into one that is too gimmicky. I was disappointed with the lack of scenery–you can’t even see other holes on many of the holes. It is a unique course in Florida and fun, but I think Chambers Bay beats it on scenery, strategy, and fun.

  • Brandon Webb

    I played Red after Blue, and have to say I thought the Red Course was my favorite. I loved the signature Coore/Crenshaw short par 4s. I also thought it was neat to have a very long par 4 followed by a shortish par 5. It gave you a chance to atone for a likely bogey. Nos. 1 and 2 and 12 and 13 are examples. I also liked the 85-yard par 3 ninth that seems harmless, but beware the bunker if the pin is nestled behind it like your picture above. The pin was there and our group produced a birdie and a triple bogey! The 16th is a Biarritz in my book and it was the first opportunity I’ve ever had to play one. The pin was as you showed it the day I played and although my tee shot ended up pin high left just off the green, I took the opportunity to putt through the valley after holing out. What a thrill! 15, 16 and 17 are bears that play into the wind, making this a tough finish. I can’t wait to go back when the Black course opens late next year to see how it fits. We could see some of the course from the Red and it looks spectacular.