Streamsong Blue pg ii
Florida, United States of America

Sixth hole, 315 yards; A superb design, the sixth honors a time honored virtue validated at The Old Course of St. Andrews where greens run away from the player. When The Old Lady is at her most firm best, the farther a player drives the ball, the more awkward his approach, especially to front hole locations. At the sixth on The Old Course, for instance, you might be able to drive within 60-70 yards of the green with today’s equipment but technology doesn’t help you nearly as much for the next shot. Same here. What are the best tactics at this teaser? It depends on a multitude of factors (the day’s hole location, ground firmness, wind, etc.) but good for you on the day you figure it out. It’s a hole that can be played with any number of clubs and trajectories for the both the drive and approach.

The 6th fairway flows right and ducks downhill setting the stage for a green that slopes from front to back.

A big drive emphatically does NOT break the back of this short two shotter. In fact, it leaves this befuddling approach.

You might think back hole locations are easier but this view from behind shows how quickly things can go awry if the approach is a shade brave.

Seventh hole, 190 yards; received several emails of indignation when this hole graced its cover after the course’s opening. One Golf Digest panelist described hitting the ‘perfect’ draw only to watch his ball trek along the right perimeter of the green, dive left down the slope, cross the green and tumble into the water. The expressed reservation that a draw was, perhaps, not the correct shape shot was met with silence as indeed a fade can be the golfer’s friend to neuter the green’s right to left tilt. As much as anything, the story speaks well as to the firmness of the playing conditions. While most Doak holes provide options on how to approach the green, this one is less relenting. However, the green is the second largest on the course at 42 paces deep and provides an ample target for the downhill shot. It surely occasions one of the two or three nerviest moments during the round and tidy play here is immensely satisfying.

A hole so handsome and dramatic, it had to be built even as it became an appendage to the routing.

Eighth hole, 435 yards; There are plenty of standout holes among Streamsong’s 54 and this is among the author’s top ten. Why? Because it represents positional golf of a very high order with much to be gained by proper placement of each shot. On big-boned courses, too often the drive doesn’t matter as much as it once did; the golfer is given the green light to give the ball a great thump with little consequence. Not here, there’s a well-located centerline bunker to confound the player and it makes accurate driving essential to gain optimal access to the angled green. Two ponds, especially the one left, insert themselves into the mix should the tee ball be farther afield. Doak states that the best feedback he has received on the course is from none other than Kyle Harris: ‘What Kyle noticed (that I did think about in building the course) is how when you take the conservative line off the tee, the tilt of the ground usually shunts you over further off line and makes the next shot much harder. That’s true at holes 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 15. But the guys who play the Blue once or twice think it’s an easy driving course and the greens are too severe, because they are approaching from the wrong angle.’

The centerline bunker makes the 8th fairway play much smaller than its 85 yards of width.

A reward certainly awaits those willing to go left of the central bunker off the tee as two fierce greenside bunkers and the slopes of their shoulders make an approach from the right problematic.

Ninth hole, 540 yards; If the resort had only 18 holes, perhaps, golf would never have ventured into this portion of the property. Indeed, some players opine that the ninth, tenth, and eleventh holes don’t quite feel like they belong with the rest of the course. Given that they lie on a mostly open plain and given the Blue’s sensory experience, the author considers the toned down visuals at nine, ten and eleven as an important quiet moment. This interlude allows the golfer to appreciate better the dazzling features found elsewhere. Put another way, consistently loud music fails to hold the listener’s attention versus a broader range of melodic movements.

The gorgeous tee shot at nine may not be the time to be brave but eventually, you’ll want to approach the angled green from the right.

Tenth hole, 160 yards; An underestimated hole, Scott Wilson, the Director of Golf, notes that the tenth might have changed the most since the course opened. Specifically, he notes the increase in bunker depth by more than a foot to the front left and right ones. That raises the question: why have those two bunkers received so much play? From the tee, the long right front bunker visually suggests a green flowing from front left to back right but the putting surface is in fact angled front right to back left. These confusing optics are such that many tee balls that look good in the air don’t find the green. It is one of the day’s more elusive shots and a distinct advantage falls to one who has confronted it before.

The shadow from a tree informs the golfer that the 10th is indeed in a different environment from much of the course. One thing to note is that there isn’t a single palm tree on the property. Instead, Live Oaks and Carolina Willows help lend the course a timeless look.

Eleventh hole, 455 yards; Better than either the Red or Black, the Blue features rumpled fairways into which solitary central bunkers have been cut. Prime examples are the third, eighth and here at the eleventh. For the author, these bunkers help make the Blue the most engaging driving test of the three courses as it is the best of all worlds: fairways broad enough to allow the crush of resort play to get around in a comfortable time while the tiger has much to think about – and gain – should he take on the varied challenges. Here, if one can skirt past the central bunker, he is left with a shot sadly absent in American golf: a poorly defined approach to a bunkerless green. It might be the author’s single favorite shot of the day. While the flag is visible, there’s nothing to aid depth perception or to suggest how best to tackle the shot. A return of eminently photograph-able shaggy bunkers in the 1990s made Americans lazy as to how they dissect a course and process information. Why? Because everything was obvious – avoid the big, beautiful bunkers and all will be well. This hole is the antithesis of that trend and the absence of framing is wonderful.

The optimal drive sneaks high left past the central bunker.

The flag stands proudly in a sea of grass. The sands-cape in the far distance is more than 100 yards beyond the green.

As seen from the right and …

…  from the left, the green is at grade to its immediate surrounds. The irony is that the approach is more difficult to gauge because of the lack of hazards. It’s a neat design trick that more architects should employ.

Just because there are no greenside bunkers doesn’t mean the player can’t find himself with a very difficult recovery. Here’s a diabolical back hole location with a four foot falloff close by.

Twelfth hole, 390 yards; The Blue alternates between expansive views (first tee, second tee, seventeenth tee) and holes cocooned in their own shallow valleys (e.g. the fourth, seventh, eighth, and here). This is a particularly handsome hole, made more graceful by the land movements in the fairway and through the green.

The author despises emerald green fairways that pierce the landscape and appear detached from the environment. Streamsong aces the presentation: note how the prepared playing surfaces meld into the surrounds. Generally, golfers have to travel to Australia to find course preparation of such high caliber.

Life comes with few guarantees but one is that a sub 400 yard Doak hole will be defended at the green.

The distant trees say something different but otherwise, the bold contours of the putting surface remind the author of links like Machrihanish and Ballybunion.

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