Florida's 36-hole Streamsong Resort near Tampa is the new 'Bandon Dunes South'
Since I received a Christmas card from Tom Doak two years ago that had a picture of one of the green sites at Streamsong Resort on it, I simply could not wait to see that place. Streamsong is set to officially open on December 21, 2012. I was very fortunate to play it in a preview with GolfChannel.com’s Brandon Tucker in late November (nobody else played on the day we where there which obviously added to the experience). Thankfully we had a great host who guided us around the property which would have been a problem for us because there were hardly any signs anywhere (plus the Blue Course didn’t have any tee markers).
Streamsong, located about 25 miles South of Lakeland, is about as remote as a location can get in Central Florida. Drive time from Orlando is 90 minutes, while Tampa is about an hour away. Streamsong has already been dubbed “Bandon South” and it is managed by Kemper Sports (as is Bandon Dunes Resort).
The resort boasts two 18-hole golf courses, the Red and Blue, plus a par-3 19th hole next to the clubhouse to settle bets. The Blue was designed by star designers Tom Doak/Renaissance Design and Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw designed the Red. This makes the resort the third facility in the world to have works of these masters side-by-side (Pacific Dunes & Bandon Trails and Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm in Tasmania).
The site is a former phosphate mine with towering sand dunes, wetlands and more sand than the Sahara. Both courses have a “linksy” layout with wide fairways that play firm and fast. The landscape and layout is totally different from all the other Florida courses which makes it a “must play” in my book. The tall sand dunes reminded me of Scotland and Ireland, and the wild and rugged fairways look like they belonged to a real links course. Add the strategically placed bunkers, lakes, wetlands and waste areas and you have a golf experience that is hard to be matched anywhere. “Signature holes” might be no. 16 Red and no. 7 Blue. Both of these par 3s require a tee-shot over water, the greens are located next to each other but are separated by a gigantic sand dune. I guess it is no coincidence that Tom Doak used the image of this green for his Christmas cards (you can see it on the picture above).
A 200-plus room hotel with spa and other amenities is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. In the meantime, golfers can stay in the 12-room lodge located in the clubhouse, which also opens Dec. 21st and is now taking reservations.
There is only one thing I could criticize if I were overly critical (which people constantly remind me I am). Both courses pretty much look alike (while, for an example, all courses at Bandon Dunes really look different from one another), even though the Blue Course has wider fairways. That aside, I think Streamsong is absolutely fabulous and it is already one of the best 36-hole public facilities on the planet. I was blown away by the overall experience and I cannot wait to go back to play it again in late January when I pass through Florida again. I haven’t seen too many “instant classics” but Streamsong has to be one of them!
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