The Essential Guide to Streamsong Resort

There are numerous reasons one would make a trip to Streamsong Resort. After all, the resort is exceptional in every aspect. Perhaps the most obvious reason, especially against its contemporaries like Bandon Dunes, Sand Valley, and Cabot Cape Breton, is it is the only warm weather destination that does not require a plane across the Pacific (sorry Barnbougle Dunes). As an added benefit, it is the only resort you can see a Bill Coore, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse in one place.

For now, at least until a new property in Texas, numerous sites in Florida and South Carolina, or Cabot Saint Lucia opens, Streamsong has a monopoly on warm weather destination golf.

After my visit to the resort on the last three days of 2021, I had let my thoughts mellow and let those hot takes sift through. What remains, at least in my eyes, is what I think is the definitive ranking of the golf courses at Streamsong.

The facts:

  • Bowling Green, Florida (roughly situated between Tampa and Orlando)
  • Blue course: Tom Doak, 2012
  • Red course: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, 2012
  • Black course: Gil Hanse, 2017

Best Par 3’s: Black

  • Honourable mention: Red

This is perhaps the most difficult choice of them all, as the Red and Black both have an excellent collection of par 3’s and the Blue is no slouch either. However, I have to give the decision to the Black. The monstrous 5th at 211 playing to the top of a ridge feels like Mars; the 178 yard 7th has a Melbourne sand-belt feel to it with very cool tongues and pockets to tuck pins; the 15th is a very cool (and quaint) short 3 at 133 yards; and the 17th, 205 yards overlooking the lake in the background, is idyllic.

Best par 3: 8th hole, Red

  • Honourable Mention: 237 yard par 3, 16th, Blue

There are many great par 3’s to choose from. It could have gone to the 16th at the Blue, or perhaps the Biarritz 16th on the Red. My choice, however, goes to the 147 yard shortie right around the halfway turn on the Red. The angles into this green from dual tees are exquisite, and the shape of the green creates a wide array of approach shots and pin locations. Exceptional by every measure.

Worst par 3: 10th hole, Blue

Not sure if this is a slant at the 10th on Blue as I do not think it is really a bad hole, but falls short of the standard set by the rest of the resort.

Best short 4’s (less than 385 yards): Blue

  • Honourable mention: Red

I wanted to go with Red initially as the 4th (330) and the 9th (312) are both wonderful drive & pitch holes, but the Blue has one additional hole (3) in this category, and they are of similar quality, so Blue takes the cake for me. The 1st is a tantalizing start atop a nipple looking over the resort. Likewise for the 6th, which barrels down to the right like a waterslide. The 13th, a true drivable par 4, is supposedly mirrored after the 6th at Pacific Dunes, though that feels disingenuous to both holes.

Best short par 4: 14th hole, Black

  • Honourable mention: 9th hole, Red

Yes, I genuinely believe the two best short holes are on the two other courses than the Blue, even though I give the nod to the better collection of short 4’s to the Blue. In particular, the 14th at the Black is this devilish little green complex which is realistically unlike anything you will ever see. I walked up to the green with. At only 298 yards, I suspect lots of people will try to go for this green and walk away with 4 or more. It is that nasty.

Best middle length par 4’s (386-445 yards): Blue

  • Honourable mention: Red, I guess?

This was actually the weakest group, and I was surprised to find that there are not a ton of par 4’s in this range at the Black or the Red. However, the 3rd and 4th largely carry this for the Blue (respectively, clocking in at 418 and 442 yards). The 12th at 408 yards is also a good hole, but in my opinion, not up to the quality of either the 3rd—bending around a water hazard to a green perched above the surrounds—or the 4th playing to a green high above the fairway.

Best long 4’s (446+ yards): Blue

  • Honourable Mention: Black

A clean sweep for the Blue (this will not age well by the end of the article), but Tom Doak builds quality par 4’s. The 8th, high above the fairway, is a fun tee shot plunging down and then playing over a water hazard with massive bunkers stacked on top of each other on the right. The 11th is a genius par 4 with a green complex among the “best in class” for Tom Doak, and the closing long par 4 playing up and over a ridge is exhilarating to finish on. The 15th is also a clever little hole, but lags behind the previous three mentioned.

Best par 4: 11th hole, Blue

This stellar long par 4 is so subtle, yet so sublime. A long iron in hand accentuates the features of this brilliantly contoured green complex. Is there anything better than a low profile, yet devilish par 4 that ages like a thick red from France?

Worst par 4: 5th hole, Red

A long par 4 with water flanking down the entire side of a hole. Is there a more “Florida” hole at the resort? I’m sure there are holes that play “worse” than this, but the 5th at Red is by far the most generic hole on the property. As such, it gets my vote.

Best Par 5’s: Red

This is highly carried by the two on the front nine, though all four are interesting enough. I do not particularly care much for 18 in contrast. The 2nd bending around a big hazard to the base of a Phosphate mine dune is a bruising start, while the gambling 7th playing to a little knob is unique (no, it’s not like Talking Stick’s 2nd for those asking). The uphill 13th over a massive blowout, quasi Principal’s Nose also leaves a strong taste in one’s mouth.

Best par 5: 7th hole, Red

I think anyone who has played Streamsong’s Red course knows this is an obvious choice. This could be on the short list for the best par 5 I’ve seen. Banking alongside the pond on the left, a small upside bunker/knob to the right of the green completely controls traffic. If the pin is on the right, bail long and right and have an easier pitch shot (or, lay back, but maybe not). If the pin is in the heart of the green, go for it, but anything from the right of the nipple becomes very, very difficult.

Worst par 5: 1st hole, Black

Not really a bad hole, but man is it a bore right out of the gate.

Easiest hole: 4th hole, Red

Not that the 4th provides a gimme birdie or anything—because no hole on the resort does—but I felt like there is a lot less that could go wrong here. Everyone in my group made par, and while there are shorter holes, the 4th on Red is wide and spacious with a bigger green. Nonetheless, an excellent hole and a much-needed relief after a very intense opening three holes.

Hardest hole: 15th hole, Red

At 474 yards working back up the hillside with a huge scooped out bunker on the left, this is the card wrecker on a golf course full of card wreckers. Avoiding the bunker up the left is mandatory, and even still, you will most likely have a long iron in to a well protected green.

Best opening hole: Red

  • Honourable mention: Blue

474 yards is a bit of a wild introduction to a golf course, especially playing uphill to a pretty wicked green (and a false front to boot), but nothing says “I’m here” like a firm handshake. That old Donald Ross saying about a gentle handshake? It’s a misquote. You think an Old Scot like him would really want to have a weak handshake? This is more what he meant.

Best closing hole: Blue

18 tee
18 approach
  • Honourable Mention: Black

We already covered how good the 18th at Blue is when discussing long par 4’s, but the most intriguing aspect of the hole is that is rewards a big drive as it’ll scoot its way down the hill and gain a potential 50-60 yard advantage (!), making this quite a fun match play hole for those of similar skill levels.

Best routing: Red

  • Honourable Mention: Black

I liked the way Red gracefully worked its way around the outside of the property while the Blue was on the inside. Black’s routing is also good, with “The Glove” being a unique way to get the most out of the property in the heart of the back nine. The walk to 7/8 on Blue really hurts the routing in my opinion, though it is understandable why they did it.

Best Greens: Black

  • Honourable mention: Blue

Even with all the issues surrounding extreme contours and perhaps too much sauce, the Black delivers the goods on likely the most diabolical and unique set of green contours I have ever seen. How do you top that?

Hidden Gem: The Gauntlet

This is perhaps easy to say, but take the time to roll putts on The Gauntlet before or after your round at the Black. I would traditionally caution people from going to something like Thistle Du, Punchbowl, the one at Sagebrush, or any other competing putting course prior to the round, but on Black, they are actually this intense.

Best Food: everything

I will not even pretend to be a food critic. I thought everything was good. This is not a paid post… I am just not qualified to comment on food texture in comparison to other dishes, or drink quality. It was all good!

However, the pulled pork sandwich on Red was better than the Tacos on Blue. There, I said it!

Skip: The Roundabout…

…unless you’re with a group of friends and everyone is already a little tipsy and there is betting to settle. It is a fun place to hit some pitch shots, but it feels undercooked a bit and some might be disappointed they spent time here instead of taking advantages of Streamsong’s six hole loops.

Best stretch of golf: 6-9, Red

It does not get much better than a par 3 tucked into the dunscape, an all-world par 5, best in class short 3, and a sneaky great driver-pitch par 4.

Worst stretch of golf: 10-13, Red

This would be the worst stretch of golf no matter where it came in the round or which golf course it was on. But, it does not help it comes after the best stretch. The 10th is a fine golf hole, while the 11th is lacklustre, the 12th an overly long par 4 devoid of strategy, and finally the 13th metaphorically and literally climbing out of the funk. It is all relative, as they are not really “bad” golf holes, but it sure is a boring portion of an otherwise great golf course.

Best overall golf course: Red

  • Honourable mention: Black

As a lover of par 4’s, I am surprised I have Blue in 3rd place. Realistically, though, Red and Black are both just more adventurous in their concepts and reach higher highs for me. This puts Red on top, with Black second, and Blue third. They are all quite pleasant.

Ten Round Split?

5 Red, 3 Black, 2 Blue

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