Florida Golf: Streamsong Black

Resort Course in Central Florida

By Tom Lang

If you are a golfer who likes:

Wide-open fairways…

Sand dunes…

Wind swept…

Rough-cut edges…

Bump and run…

Tight lies…

Links-style golf…

You will love Streamsong Black in Polk County, Florida.

It is the latest design of the 54-hole bucket-list resort after the 2013 debut of Streamsong’s Blue and Red Courses – created by Michigan’s Tom Doak and the team of Coore & Crenshaw, respectively.

While the grand-scale environment encompassing all 54 holes has a ‘sameness’ about it with huge areas of waste sand, sightlines for miles, significant mounding and man-made water ponds from the former phosphate mining done on the property – within that symmetry there is no feeling of repetitiveness on the Black Course as each hole is very unique in its designed look and strategy.

The Black was put together by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, the much-acclaimed team that developed The Rio 2016 Olympic Course, among other notables around the globe.

Hole 1 is a straightforward par 5 to kick things off, before the par four 2nd hole tests even the best approach-shot-makers with its elongated, small-ish, lofted green surrounded by sloping run offs.

That said, the reference to ‘small’ is very relative among the other 17 greens on Black, a course that is loaded with huge putting surfaces that are in many cases double the size of Hanse’s and Wagner’s original plan. What would have been aprons are cut at the same height as the official greens, and it’s the perimeters where most of the more severe green undulations are found. But for that matter, the fairways are also cut tight, to the point it’s not easy to tell where the fairways end, and the greens start. The entire feeling encompasses a bump-and-run golfing style that also rewards tee box and approach shots with extra length that should be club-adjusted for an extra 15-25 percent roll out. Fast and firm is well in-step at Streamsong.

My favorite stretch begins at Hole 4 and carries through to No. 9 – but that doesn’t mean the final nine holes are not fun. They are, especially the dramatic par three 17th and the demanding par 5 finishing hole that wraps around a deep ravine with water (and alligators) in the bottom.

No. 4 is a beefy par 5 with a split fairway. Hit to the lower right and its expansive landing areas, then go left to the higher tiered fairway where the green ends. No. 5 is a par 3 where the green could be the highest point on the course. From the tee golfers can be intimidated by the entire right side of the tall green complex – a huge hillside face that’s all exposed waste sand. No. 6 is a drivable par 4 with a slopping left to right fairway that can feed balls away from the green.

No. 7 is a par 3 with a huge, L-shaped green that could easily accommodate a couple dozen pin placements (an argument that could be made for many greens). No. 8 is a slight dogleg-right par 4 that sets up No. 9 – an uphill par 4 with a deep, two-tier, punch-bowl green. Most flag placements cannot be seen from any approach shot position, so aim for the old windmill behind the green and then go find your awaiting putt after climbing and clearing the tall front lip of the green complex.

That’s just one of the surprises to be found at Streamsong. Find more at www.streamsong.com.

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