|GolfWRX Top Rated|
Streamsong offers everything golfers need to play their hearts out, with two top-100 courses that are beautiful, challenging, fun and fair. While golf is the focus, the resort's premium accommodations and amenities offer variety for those in search of a well-rounded experience.
5 out of 5
If you haven’t heard of Streamsong Resort yet, it won’t be long until you do. The saying “if you build it, they will come” seems to hold true for golf courses such as Sand Hills in Nebraska or Forest Dunes Michigan, gems plopped in the middle of nowhere. The secret is… if you build it well, we will come.
Streamsong is a simply magnificent, modern day golf resort — also in the middle of nowhere. It’s one of the best luxury golf getaway options available and maybe best of all, it’s in sunny Florida so you can play golf in the dead of winter.
Along with two world-class links-style golf courses, which are discussed in more detail later in the review, Streamsong offers everything most guests will need for their stay. That’s a blessing, because it’s also in the middle of nowhere.
There are two large buildings on property, the largest of which is the Lodge (above). It has 216 rooms, four restaurants, conference rooms and amenities including bars, fitness facilities, a spa, a pool and retail stores.
There’s also a building called “The Club House,” which is much more than what usually stands beside a golf course. It has 12 guest rooms, more conference rooms, a lounge, a golf shop, a locker room, and “Fifty Nine,” which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It specializes in steaks and seafood, and offers an impressive wine list.
Streamsong has a shuttle that runs throughout the resort, so there was no need to drive once we valeted the car on arrival. After checking in, we immediately knew we were at the right place. Guests were walking through the lobby with their carry bags strapped to their back as if the lobby was the 3rd hole — a nice welcome for diehard golfers. You can check your bag and it will be stored at the course, or if you’re like us, you can bring the clubs back to the room so they’re handy at all times.
We flew into Tampa and rented a car for a nice drive to Streamsong. The two courses on the 16,000-acre campus are “Red” and “Blue.” They reminded us more of Ireland’s Tralee or Ballybunion than Florida courses, as there’s not a tree or house on the property.
The Red and Blue are built on an old phosphate mine complete with craters and mounds that look like they were purposefully placed, yet are the result of many years of mining. Our experience was that the Red and Blue are two of the best courses you’ll play in your life.
Follow along for a more in-depth review of the Red and the Black, with on-course photos of each.
The Red course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and tips out at 7,148 yards with a slope of 122 to 130 depending on the tee. Coore and Crenshaw courses are known for their minimalistic approach to golf course design, and Streamsong Red is no different.
One thing that was notable about the course was the number of half-par holes that Coore and Crenshaw weaved into the routing. We counted as many as 10 par-4 and par-5 holes that were either short and reachable or very long and unreachable for most golfers. These “half-pars” allow for more birdie chances, but also more tough pars, which means they’re generally played better when the player throws the concept of par out the window.
You’ll see what we mean.
The round starts with a very tough, long, uphill par-4 measuring 464 yards (from the black tees) that is very hard to reach in two shots. Then, on the second hole, you get a 508-yard reachable par-5 that gently doglegs to the right. Hole No. 3 is a reasonable-length par-4 of 391 yards, but then you get to the 4th hole, a fantastic risk-reward, drivable par-4 that’s 316 yards. The 5th hole is another great short par-4 at 344 yards.
After the mid-length, par-3 6th, which measures about 150 yards to a huge green, the player is confronted at the 7th hole. It’s a sweeping dogleg left, reachable par-5 that plays 521 yards. The 8th is another great par-3 with a very long green that can play under 100 yards or more than 150 yards. Next up is the tempting par-4 9th. At 271 yards, it begs long-hitters to try and drive its memorably and difficult green.
The back nine starts with two difficult, long par-4s at 434 and 408 yards, respectively. The par-4 12th (471 yards) is followed by the reachable par-5 13th (505 yards). The good player should be happy to walk away from those two holes in nine strokes no matter how they occur.
After the excellent par-3 14th hole, golfers get back to the half-par holes. The long, uphill par-4 15th measures 454 yards. The 16th is a standout par-3 on a course with a fantastic set of par 3’s, but it plays very difficult at 184 yards and uphill. The 17th is a mid-range, 380-yard par-4 and the golfer finishes on another half-par, a par-5 that’s 505 yards. There’s plenty of opportunities for birdies, but you’ll have to grind out tough pars as well.
Walking the Red course is very easy; the terrain is not flat, but the greens and tees are generally right next to each other. The greens are all very interesting and well-contoured without being too undulated. Many of them have organic shapes that are different than the normal square, rectangle or circular shaped greens golfers see on most courses. The landing areas are generous off the tee and somewhat forgiving on small misses around the greens. Large misses are punished, but generally the punishment is well-deserved.
The Blue course, which tips at 7,176, was designed by Tom Doak, who is also a minimalist designer. The two things that stood out the most to us on the Blue course were the great mix of short holes and the large, severely undulating greens.
The 1st, 6th and 13th are all standout short par 4s, and the 5th hole is a fantastic, character-filled par 3 with a very large green that can play one of a 100 ways depending on the hole location and wind.
The greens are large but missing them, even by a small margin, can create very difficult recoveries. I found walking the Blue course to be a little more difficult, especially the 7th hole where golfers are forced to walk across a bridge to the green and then basically retrace their steps to get to the 8th tee. The course has a mostly natural appearance, though some abrupt landforms from the mine are a little jarring.
The ground game is an option on many of the holes as they are open coming into the greens. The course has some standout holes, but also a few that we didn’t like as much.
In comparing the two courses, we found that we preferred the Red over the Blue, though we definitely enjoyed both. We enjoyed the walk on the Red, and it’s a little easier to play with a better flow to it. We also preferred the greens on the Red, as we found them to be more reasonable. Some of the greens on Blue were a little too much for us, while the greens on the Red felt more like an older, golden-age course.
Both courses had a great mix of holes, and Blue has a few of my favorite holes on the property including my favorite three-hole stretch: holes Nos. 4-6. If given the chance to play 10 rounds, I would split them 6-4 in favor of the Red course.
The greens were in great shape in early March. We didn’t have a stimp meter, but we were told they were running at an 11.
Streamsong has one of the better caddie programs golf has to offer. The cost is $80 to $100 per bag, plus gratuities. If golfers choose a cart, they’re required to have a forecaddie, which cost between $25 and $50 per bag plus gratuities.
We walked all four rounds, played 36 holes one day, and finished each round in 4 hours or less — no complaints here! One of our group members actually hoofed his own gear for the 36-hole day. Another registered 33,302 steps on his FitBit, and it’s still his record of steps for one day.
I know many caddies from great northern clubs go south in the winter looking for loops. Streamsong is not a bargain, so they must know the clientele will be strong. We kept the same caddies for our entire stay, got to know them well and by the end of the battle we felt as if we had developed new friends. They probably all carry single-digit handicaps as well, and were great guys who certainly made our trip that much better.
All this for nothing? Not quite. With rooms starting above $300 a night, many golfers will balk at the price tag to stay on site. If they can afford it, they might want to reconsider. The convenience of being a shuttle ride from the first hole and range is worth something.
Still, rooms are pricey, and a round of golf will cost $100 to $225 depending on the time of year. We can say, however, that it was one of our better golf experiences. Well-traveled golfers looking to play as many holes as possible will love Streamsong, where everything is ridiculously convenient and they won’t need to leave the property.
We suggest golfers make their plans well in advance, especially if they’re are thinking of playing 36 holes per day during the winter months. It requires marquis tee times, and those need to be planned accordingly.
Streamsong is also planning for the future. Construction has begun on the Black Course, which is designed by renowned architect Gil Hanse and scheduled to open in 2017. Hanse has said it will have a “linksy” feel like the other courses on property. Personally, we can’t wait, and there are rumors of a fourth course right after it.