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“Best New Golf Courses” of 2012 Open on Friday

by Craig Better

Dec182012

Awesome image of golf at Streamsong You can probably count on one hand the number of noteworthy new golf courses to open in the U.S. this year, but don’t let that detract from what’s happening on Friday:

That is, the opening of two of these standout courses at the same place: Florida’s Streamsong Resort.

Even amid more competition, I think the interesting, semi-natural terrain in the hands of Tom Doak (the Blue Course) and the Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw team (the Red Course) would have still landed both 18s on Golf Magazine’s list of, “Best New U.S. Courses You Can Play.”

And the fact that you can do exactly that, at the same resort, makes it easier to justify a trip to this remote part of central Florida (Bandon, anyone?)

If you want to go, here are five things you need to know:

Map showing location of Streamsong Resort1. Streamsong Resort is only 50 miles from Tampa and 80 miles from Orlando, but its location has been described as “isolated.” That’s important because…

2. Currently, on-site lodging consists of 12 rooms in the clubhouse (a lodge is planned for fall 2013). Aside from that, your lodging options consist of mainly of independent hotels clustered around Bowling Green (12 miles southeast) or chain hotels in Lakeland (30 miles north). The Hilton Garden Inn in Lakeland is one that seems to get good reviews.

3. If you’re flying in, here are the best airports to consider based on drive time to Streamsong Resort:

Tampa: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Sarasota/Bradenton: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Orlando: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Southwest Florida: 2 hours, 15 minutes

West Palm Beach: 3 hours

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Miami: 4 hours

4. If it matters, Golf Magazine rated the Red Course ahead of the Blue Course, “by an eyelash.” In describing the main point of contrast, Golf Odyssey wrote, “of the two routings, the Blue has more natural landforms and is more conducive to minimalism. The Red Course is more dramatic.”

5. What the architects think makes Streamsong special:

Another awesome image of golf at StreamsongTom Doak: “This site, with its dunes and elevation changes and lakes, is just so varied and well suited for golf. It’s unlike anything around, and though mining was done here, it seems like a great natural space.”

Bill Coore: “The first question you might ask is, “Why would anybody build two courses in this remote area of Florida in this economy?” But once you come here and look at the site, you’ll see how unusual and dramatic and beautiful it is in a rugged sort of way. The two courses are really good and they’re going to be very enjoyable to play.”

What’s your take on Streamsong and are you putting it on your travel list?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marty R. December 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for this practical and helpful info — been hearing a lot about streamsong, but I had questions about exactly where it is, how too get there (distances, times, etc.), where to stay, and what to expect from the area. cheers.

2 jimtrainor December 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

does anyone know what green fees cost?

3 Craig Better December 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

$125-$275 depending on season

4 Yomi Adeyemi December 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

A group of us from my club-Chicago Highlands-are going there in March, 2013.

5 Gus December 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

When I go on my annual golf trip, I don’t want to be isolated. Like having options on what to do, where to go.

6 Tom Khamis December 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I’ve been there. It’s awesome! Those are two worthwhile tracks for the real golfer in you. I’ve also been to Bandon and these links are reminiscent of the Pacific Dunes course. And, like Bandon, you have to place your shots. There’s no gorse, but I wouldn’t go near any of the ponds looking for balls either. It’s very pretty in a “wow” sort of way as you golf into the limitless horizon on some holes with a cloud filled Florida sky overhead. Or see the shadows cast by dunes across the playing surfaces. You’ll encounter a signature par three where you’ll hit over the tall grass, by the pond and ever present dunes, to an 80 yard green with a puttable gulley running throuh it. Your group will exclaim over other holes, one way or another, but it is a premier layout after all. I think that you’ll agree – nationally so.

7 Sean Sheppard December 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I prefer the term solitude to isolation. Pure golf needs no distractions beyond, great golf, great friends, good food, a hearty meal and a tasty cigar :)

I look forward to playing Streamsong. At first blush, it reminds me a bit of Southern Dunes in Arizona (my home club) and the Golf Club of Colorado.

8 Sharon Hall December 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

We would luv to play in November 2013

9 Tom Tollette December 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Had a special opportunity to play the Doak (Blue)Course pre opening
three weeks ago. The whole complex is everything you say it is and then some.
Nothing quite like it , certainly east of the Mississippi and for sure in Florida.
Who would have guessed it. (Florida?) Maybe a bit like Bandon Dunes or
Whistling Straits, but not really. The new resort ,open next fall will complete
this great venue. And no, I don’t work for Streamsong or Mosaic. As an avid golfer
I just appreciate how unique it is.

10 ken December 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I checked mid week rates….While this may be a fantastic golf layout, for $175 it should be labeled “one of America’s best new courses you can play but most likely cannot afford”..
This place is for the wealthy. Fine.

11 Tom F. December 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hello Craig….
Can’t wait to get down there…but is there a ‘town’ to reference? You mention is x from Tampa, xx from Orlando, but there’s gotta be a town closest to it…? I almost thought it was near Sebring….or maybe Lake Wales…??? Looks great…certainly closer than Bandon….

12 Craig Better December 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

Streamsong Resort’s zipcode is listed as 33834, which is Bowling Green, Fla., about 10-15 miles away.

13 Tom Flynn December 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

While I’m not opposed to higher prices for golf, I think that I shall pass on this one. I’ve seen enough extra fees for awhile.

14 Steve Pearson December 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Crenshaw,Coore and Doak! Looking forward to playing there. Hopefully the developers will be successful and have enough good land to add a Hanse creation when he’s finished in Brazil. I’d advise them to ask Dick Youngscap to design their accomodations and put the money into the golf courses.Who needs granite vanity tops and Kohler fixtures? Leave those to “The Donald”.

15 Matt H December 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

Plays shorter than yardages due to usual hard and fast conditions. Generous fairways. Red is the better of the two overall, but Blue has the best golf hole in my opinion(No.7).

If you are travelling from Orlando area, the GPS may take you through some interesting mining back roads. The best route from Orlando is I-4W, 570S, 98S, 17S, 630W, 653S.

16 Cooperman January 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Amazing set up. Easier off the tee than it looks with huge greens – you need a good short game. Greens are superb – I was told they were running at 12 today.

Ian

17 Tom Shipley January 8, 2013 at 11:15 am

I think they’ll starve to death in that part of Florida with those ridiculous green fees.

18 Anonymous January 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Streamsong is unique and awesome. My wife and I played there on Jan. 21 and course looks and plays like it’s been open for five years. Our caddie came from Bandon and said it is a similar experience but the weather is nice hear…and it was. The only thing I can be critical about is it is in the middle of no where and there are no decisive directions anywhere, including the pro shop. From Ft. Meade go west on Broadway (@ the light) ten miles to Fort Green Road ( there is a RR crossing within feet of the intersection on Hwy 630 which is the same as Broadway) also referred to as Old Hwy 37. Turn off of 630 and go south on Old 37/ Fort Green Rd. About 3-4 miles south and you will see the entrance to Steamsong. I am scheduled to go to Bandon in Sept. can’t wait to compare. It’s not cheap but the experience is priceless.

19 George January 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Just got back and this is a special place. First, once on the course, it is difficult to comprehend that you are in Florida. The terrain looks like Ireland or Scotland. The courses are on the same land but feel entirely different. The Red, Crenshaw/Coore, is intimate with each hole on its own. Difficult drives but more approachable greens. The Doak Blue course is more wide open visually and for driving. Brutal greens with major contours and drop-offs. Black tees (one in from the tips) play at 6800 versus 6600 on the Crenshaw. We stayed in some of the rooms above the pro shop and they were very modern and sleek. Food and service exceptional and the large hotel when open I suspect will be similar. You are in the middle of no where and this is golf, eat, drink and do it again.

20 Tim February 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Most ridiculous golf experience ever. I would not pay $75 to play this course again not to mention it is in the middle of nothing! Have fun.

21 GolfinGary February 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm

my wife and I already have our tee time for mid-March (playing the Blue) and are looking forward to experiencing this unique layout. We are traveling south from PA for a week of golf in Orlando area with two other couples and we decided to go down a couple of days early to give it a whirl …… hope we will be able to tell the others what they missed out on !!

22 Patrick February 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

i played the red course on jan. 18. I must say that i do not play ‘high’ end courses very often and this was way over my golf budget. that being said it was quite an expierience. the place is stunning and does not feel like florida at all. you can see no signs of civilization from anywhere on the course, no palm trees at all. the greens were extremely fast but once you got a feel for them they were great to putt on. The place is postioned to be the east coast version of Bandon and thats the clientle they are going for, certainly not the ‘locals’. If you find yourself in central Florida I say buck up and give it a try.

23 Charlie February 10, 2013 at 2:09 am

Haven’t been here yet but being from this area I can offer some info about this area. It is in the middle of no where. You absolutely do not want to stay in Bowling Green. Crappy little town, very low income area. More like little Mexico. Please save yourself the trouble and stay in Lakeland. Lakeland is located between Tampa and Orlando and is just north of this resort. I do not live in Lakeland but I live in the next town over and I assure you, you want to stay in Lakeland. Winter Haven is crammed full of people and has terrible traffic. Lakeland and Winter Haven have your chain restaurants and stores. You could stay in Bartow at the Holiday Inn Express and it is a charming town with plenty of restaurants to choose from. Do NOTTTTT stay in Mulberry. Dumpy hotels and no decent restaurants. Save yourself a lot of time and stay in Lakeland. They have a very active Beautification Board that has done an amazing job with maintaining this area. You have your chain restaurants, multiple hotels, malls, movie theaters, etc. If you have a private plain you can use the Lakeland Linder Airport. So much more convenient than all the other ones people mentioned.

24 Mat modica February 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Played red course. I’ll give it an 8 on scale of 10. The fairways are a little to forgiving, and I believe there were 3 holes with bunkers in middle of fairway. Just tighten up fairways and get rid of tricked up bunkers in center of fairways.The natural setting is fine but they could plant some lantana and native grasses in the areas that look like a land fill. Also why not paint the cups, it takes 90 seconds. U have to be shuttled to driving range, poor engineering.

25 Ken March 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Just returned to Cali from Streamsong, Played & stayed at the lodge, Seven rounds in 3.5 days with eight guys & .Individual caddies.Liked the Red course better because
I played it better. Windy-cold. Resturant was very good. Went to town one night for BBQ, not worth the drive. I am a blue collar man paying the white collar price but hey,
It was my birthday! Can’t put a price on great memories – great food-great courses
And great friends….

26 Michael August 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Can anyone comment on pace of play on these courses? We are playing last week in October, and want to book tee times that enable us to get there from Orlando and play 36 before dark. We have times that work if rounds are 4.5 hours or less. Is that typical for Streamsong?

27 Steve March 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Just spent $1500 for three nights lodging, 4 rounds of golf…The stay and play package is two rounds, one night lodging at a very reasonable $625 per man; However, to get 4 rounds in (too old for 36holes/day), we stayed the extra night and lodging was $250 per man. The third night did not even include breakfast… Everything on site is expensive…$7.50 for a draft beer…Streamsong is in the middle of no where! Nearest entertainment was Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, 1.25 hours away. All of us were 8-14 handicappers; Silver tees on both courses were plenty of challenge..Fore caddies mandatory; cart paths only all the time.

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