Review: Streamsong Resort (Red)

Information:

  • Bowling Green, Florida
  • Public – Daily Fee
  • Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2012)
  • 19th best public golf course in the US (Golf Digest), 112th in the US (Golf Digest)

At this point, Streamsong Resort needs no introduction. The Tom Doak designed Blue course is a favorite, with the typical Doak greens. The Black, the newest course designed by Gil Hanse, features scale like no other golf course. But the highest rated golf course at the resort is the Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw designed Red course.

Rolling over some very interesting land for Florida, it’s anything but the typical Florida-style golf course–a good thing. Minimalism and strategic architecture are at the forefront of the golf course.


The opening hole at Streamsong starts off fairly difficult. I wish I had my yardage book with me, and I unfortunately left it at a friends house, but I’ll do my best to articulate the yardages.

Opening with a 474 yard par 4 up the hill, it’s a stern handshake to start the round.

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The principle nose bunker complex in the middle of the fairway is in play, if I remember correctly. It’ll be four years since I was at Streamsong this November so I’m a little shaky, but I remember the right bunker isn’t in play. Like most holes at the Red course, the fairway is generous, so get it in play!

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As you can see, native grass and sand dune encroach the property, something that was shocking for a golf course in Florida. Keep in mind I was fairly new to the whole golf nerd thing, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Streamsong. I knew it’d be good, but I wasn’t sure how good and how interesting it could be.

The 555 yard, par 5 2nd is a cape hole, doglegging right around the hazard.

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The farther right you hit it (in the fairway of course), the better angle you have into the green, going up the mouth instead of from a side angle. Obviously if you don’t like the tee shot you have room to bail out.

Up at the green, a bunker short left 40 or so yards off the front edge awaits the mishit shot, and a bunker over the back and front guard this well-designed green. The entire left side runs off into the collection area, and a native sandy vegetation area to the right make this a well-defended green.

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I have a feeling the third is one of the most under-appreciated holes here because it’s not as flashy as other holes. It’s not the Insta-worthy par 3 like the 16th, or a cool shot of the dunes on 6, or the all-world par 5 7th with copious photo ops, but it’s a magnificent hole with a ton of strategy involved.

The fairway is quite wide and generous, especially for a 404 yard par 4, and invites the player to give it a good rip. Getting to the fairway, you’re greeted with the view below, which shows a narrow green that is best approached from the right side of the fairway.

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What you can kind of see from this picture (but is way more noticeable in person, obviously) is the crazy topography left of the green that makes the shot coming in from the left unpredictable. A hazard also runs up the right. Brilliant!

The fourth is one of the shorter 4’s at 330 yards, playing up a gentle slope.

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What I would argue is a Lions Mouth-style green fronted by two bunkers in the middle awaits the player, and a huge centreline bunker is there for the mishits or layups, splitting the hole into two ways. This is a good hole to “play it backwards,” as the pin should dictate which side of the hole you play up.

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The 5th would be my vote for the most Florida type hole out here, a slightly boring 453 yard par 4 doglegging around a hazard on the right.

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As with most Coore/Crenshaw holes, the green complex is the star of the show at the 5th.

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The 6th is a 185 yard par 3 that starts a really great stretch to finish the front nine off. A par 3 playing in between two sand dunes to a wild green complex. One of the best at the Red!

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The 7th is perhaps the best hole architecturally at Streamsong. At 527 yards from the back deck, it’s certainly reachable. The player has to mender through a few bunkers in the driving area and a water hazard on the left first.

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Once you find the fairway, you have the option to go for the green. However, this is no easy task, and a key to going for it in two here is being on the left, hugging the water for a difficult tee shot (but consequently an easier chance at being home in two).

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I really wish I was smart enough to get a good picture of the huge hump short right of the green, but it’s a pivotal role in the hole. If you zoom in above, you see it’s short right, so anything bailed out on the right has to deal with a really difficult chip shot around or over it towards the water hazard. A really cool strategic element to a great hole!

The par 3, 8th is a spectacular short par 3, topping out at 147 yards.

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With so much variety for pin placements, this short par 3 would never get old, and I love that they didn’t particularly include the water hazard, left, as the main defence to this hole. Great stuff. The green complex from above is shown below.

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The 9th finishes a great stretch, and a very score-able stretch of golf holes, with a 312 yard drivable par 4 slightly up the hill. I did not get a picture of the tee shot, unfortunately, but I did snap a photo of the green complex, which is the best part anyway. Anything long is death.

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I unfortunately don’t think I have any photos of the 10th, a 486 yard hole without any significant bunkering. This is a hole that if I remember correctly has a pretty cool green. The 10th starts a fairly mean stretch until hole 12, after the score-able one from 7-9.

The 11th is a 433 yard par 4 with a bunker running down the middle of the fairway.

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The approach is fairly basic, nothing too crazy going on. A bunker short left looks like it could be in play at first glance, but it’s aways back.

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The key to the 12th is making sure you get the ball on whichever side of the bunker you’re comfortable with, as the hole moves towards the left. The right fairway is easier to hit but farther in, while the left side is harder to hit because it’s smaller but leaves a shorter (and better angle I’d say) in.

This is where my photos start to get a little spotty, as I’m sure you’ve seen already. We played during the heat wave that rolled through Florida in November, 2015, and on the sand it literally felt like it was 140*F. I didn’t snap good photos of 9, 10, 12, 13–what a mistake. But anyways, the show must go on!

The 12th is an absolute monster par 4 at 500 yards from the back deck. I’m not sure about y’all, but to me, 500 yards as a par 4 is a little much in Florida. Sure, the mountains it’s good or in the prairies where it can play really firm, but it’s not like Streamsong was crazy firm, it was just… firm. Nevertheless, I liked the green complex here, and that’s what I took a picture of. Three bunkers short right and a hazard await the player.

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The 12th is well-designed, despite it’s ridiculous length. It moves on the edge of the property, swinging left around some natural vegetation, and then back right. Lots of room to run it up.

Unfortunately, the 535 yard par 5, 13th is another one I did not take a picture of. This is a fairly straight hole, but a centreline bunker in the middle of the fairway is the main defence off the tee. With its short length, the player is seduced into the idea of going for the green in two, which is almost completely surrounded by bunkering. The only bail out is short right, which is a collection area. A water hazard also awaits the snap-hooker long left over the green.

The 14th then is a beautiful pushed up par 3 green site, measuring 181 yards.

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Four bunkers–left, right, front, back–make this a well-defended green, but the putting surface, as you can even see from the picture above, is quite intense.

The 15th is another mean, 474 yard par 4 up the slope. This one features the massive bunker you sometimes see on Instagram where it’s like 30 feet deep, on the left, and absolutely in play.

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Below is a photo of the previously mentioned massive bunker. You know it’s bad when there’s stairs out of the bunker!

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The approach is fairly difficult as well, playing with a long-to-mid iron into a skinny green fronted by a bunker left and short right.

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The 16th then is the famous modern rendition of the Biarritz template. For those who don’t know, a Biarritz template is where the green has a massive swale in the middle, making two definitive levels of the green in the front and in the back (sometimes the front tier is actually fairway, like at Mid Ocean Club). The hole usually is a long iron, being over 200 yards, and is meant to be risk-reward–either the player flies it (to the back), or they run it up the entire way through the swale.

Streamsong’s Biarritz is a 208 yard par 3.

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The green site here is quite intimidating, water short, shrub right, but a collection area to the left gives some leeway and lets the player feel a bit more comfortable that its not a “do or die” hole. You can also see the slope of the Biarritz green better from this angle.

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Below, the Biarritz green.

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The 17th is a 403 yard par 4. It’s a fairly generous tee shot, moving to the right over a bunker, with a bunker through the fairway as well.

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I liked the simple, yet well guarded green complex here, too. Two pot bunkers short right and a bunker left, as well as fall offs all down the right side.

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The finishing hole at Streamsong Red is a 540 yard par 5 working back up the hill towards the clubhouse. What I thought was pretty cool on the 18th is I pulled my drive a fair amount left, over the bunker you can see below, and I honestly thought I was on the road. I was actually in the fairway! This tee shot is fairly generous so give it a big swing on the final driver of the day.

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Bunkers pretty much flank this entire hole up the left side, and the green is situated in a nice spot tucked under a sand dune.

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Streamsong Resort now has three golf courses, and there’s no way I return without going around the Red again. It’s such an enjoyable round, and a great site for a golf course. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw succeeded in designing a course that’s interesting, beautiful, and not your atypical Florida golf course. Brilliant stuff!

This also happened to be my first Top 100 golf course, back when it was ranked in the 2014 ranking, so there’s some love and affection for this place, but it’s worth the trip, and I could only imagine how fun it’d be to spend a week or so here with buddies playing golf and staying on property.

One of my absolute favorites that I’m dying to get back to. Streamsong Red is the real deal!

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