Streamsong Blue pg iii
Florida, United States of America

Thirteenth hole, 295 yards; Some of the most evil holes on a Doak course tend to be short two shotters. Examples include the second at St. Andrews Beach, seventh at Tara Iti, and here. Par isn’t guaranteed and the good player is more likely to harm his score on these holes than most others. Trouble begins when the driver is selected. After witnessing nearly two decades of carnage, the author has become far more timid in his approach. At Streamsong, the tiger might well blow a driver past the bunker 65 yards shy of the green and reach the long narrow putting surface. Yet, if the drive drifts a shade left it likely tumbles into the course’s deepest greenside bunker. Why invite such consternation into your life? Play a hybrid left and be content with a wedge approach over the bunker to the heart of the green. Over a playing season, that strategy will surely yield the better result. Just be aware that the middle is the green’s high point, so short of forward hole locations and a bit past deep ones will leave the desired uphill birdie putt.

Here is the 85 yard approach from the left center of the fairway. Perhaps your younger opponent has carried the right bunker and run onto the green? Don’t count on it.

Fourteenth hole, 510 yards; Perfectly conceived angles make this hole a star and it garnered the ultimate complement when Kyle Harris commented that this hole had grown on him the most over the past seven years. Such a statement speaks volumes for a hole’s subtle playing qualities. With oodles of money to spend, some architects feel compelled to deliver a product that screams for attention. That’s a shame because contrivances, like fads, come and go. Strategy endures and here the smallest green on the Blue at 4,450 square feet delivers. Good players can have a slash in two but if they finish above the undersized target, odds for a birdie dim given the green’s steep back to front incline. As an aside, rarely is a hole with a small green among a course’s least distinguished holes; Having one or two greens significantly smaller than the rest is a laudable attribute on any design.

The golfer has to contend with the worst trouble (deep bunkers, water) to gain the best access to the green in two.

The sand is eye-catching as it extends over 100 yards from the front left of the green but the real menace is the small, pitched putting surface. Wherever you are in three, you best be below the hole.

Fifteenth hole, 400 yards; After the bunkerless approach to the eleventh, a series of sand-scapes dominate. Five bunkers surround the twelfth green, a profoundly dangerous pit fronts the thirteenth green, and deep fairway bunkers and a large sandy swath linger at fourteen. Same applies at the uphill sixteenth and mammoth seventeenth. So, what does the fifteenth feature? You guessed it. A rolling green floating in a sea of short grass, creating a fine change of pace. Doak notes that Blue fifteen ‘… is the one hole I found on the map that was identical with a hole Bill had found.’ A pair of Spectacle bunkers are pulled seventy yards off the putting surface to create visibility and depth perception issues. Be it into the wind or downwind, the hole plays equally well. The huge fairway is shared with fourteen and the acre of short grass beyond the Spectacles makes this hole all about the ground. In fact, Doak’s crew did little to this fairway as nature kindly provided the humps and hollows. Of the three courses, the least construction was required for the Blue and for the author, that is tantamount to saying that the Blue is situated on the best property.

Peek-a-boo. Generally you can see the flag but the putting surface itself is a different matter thanks to this central hazard well short of the green.

Sixteenth hole, 215 yards; One shotters are a handy way to ascend slopes. The more abrupt the slope, the shorter the hole. In this case, the gradual 6% rise lent itself to a lengthy one shotter. Handsome bunkers clawed into the upslope give it a Sandbelt feel. A single bunker left fools as it is thirty paces shy of the putting surfaces. While plenty of folks dislike uphill holes because they preclude visual appreciation of their shots, this slope is gradual enough that the player delights to see his ball dance from left to right across the canted green.

A tee ball that flies over the right edge of the short left bunker is shunted off the hillside onto the open green. It’s a wonderfully slow shot to watch unfold.

Seventeenth hole, 575 yards; Is there such a thing as a bad set of cross bunkers? We think not but many golfers don’t confront them enough to development an educated opinion. Such a shame since they are both handsome and a strategic additions to a design. Success hinges on their placement and the four here cut into the face of a natural ridge are particularly well-situated. They fall 440 yards from the black tees and if a well hit drive doesn’t find the fairway or if there’s a head wind, clearing them in two becomes quite the proposition. The golfer who does so enjoys an approach shot 60 yards shorter in length than his friend who layed up. Capped off by a fascinating green with a thumb print impression front left, this has to be among Doak’s all-time finest three shotters.

Standing near this spot, the golfer has only two holes to play but nearly 1,000 yards to cover. Congratulations to the resort for its diligent tree pruning that has both preserved and enhanced the hole’s scale.

Adam Lawrence considers this one of the world’s great three shot holes. The late evening sky accentuates its grandeur.

Eighteenth hole, 455 yards; The author loves Home holes like those at Prestwick and St. Andrews not because they are easy but because they constitute half pars that tend to produce varied scores. Same here, except it’s a 4 1/2 par. In The Confidential Guide – Volume 2, I wrote that these three holes comprised my favorite finish of any Doak course. Having since seen Dismal River Red, it is a close call but the Blue’s conclusion might still be Doak’s best. Other famed closing stretches in the state (TPC Stadium, Doral, Bay Hill) rely on water which further highlights how much more praiseworthy the golf at Streamsong is than elsewhere in the state.

An easy mistake for most five star resorts is to present a too manicured/perfect course. That’s what guests are conditioned to expect, so why not give it to them? Blue embraces its roots in central, rustic Florida because Streamsong is smart and doesn’t pander to what is wrong with American golf.

A nest of central bunkers occupy the space from 70 yards to 135 yards from the green and the day’s final full shot is a thrilling one that must carry them. Sometimes a bullet three wood is what’s required and seeing the ball interact with the ground and drift right toward a very soft, semi-punchbowl green will long linger in the mind. The manner in which the architecture puts the ground game on a pedestal makes for a first rate conclusion.

At this point in Doak’s career, the only knock on his work is that he builds greens that are too ‘exuberant.’ At Streamsong, plenty prefer the Red, sniffing that ‘the Blue greens are over the top.’ Of course, these same people love The Old Course at St. Andrews and a host of other courses with wicked green contouring … so the author tends to think it is more a cliché than anything fact-based. Indeed, the large greens on the Blue seem to offer an inordinate number of fun and varied hole locations, making it an odd set upon which to vent ire. Plus, there are plenty of gathering features around many of the greens like the exquisite sixteenth and soft punchbowl Home green that should be applauded, not bemoaned. The four Blue greens that draw the most criticism are five thru seven and twelve. The fifth green is 74 yards long so there are clearly ways to avoid its most controversial feature which is its back right bowl (on the rare occasions when the hole is located there, hole-in-ones occur with some frequency and the people that accomplish that feat become big fans of the design!). The sixth falls away and most American simply don’t know how to handle a putting surface that doesn’t act as ‘a catch’s mitt.’ Like the sixth, the twelfth green defends the integrity of a short-ish two shotter. Finally, the seventh: if a player is top right and the hole is lower back left, there is no consoling him. It’s unusual for someone with imagination not to find a way to two putt a Doak green (even if that means putting off it for a bit), so perhaps the envelope was pushed too far in this instance, especially given the penal nature of the hole. Still, the thing with Doak is that he continues to take chances later in his career – very few architects can claim the same. Besides, a couple of features that wildly irritate are a good – not bad – thing.

This three foot bowl in the back right of the 5th green is nails on a chalk board to some. Given that the green is a staggering 74 paces deep, it is easy to avoid, so why all the ruckus?

So, which is your favorite at Streamsong? Only one way to find out! The author’s tipping point for the Blue is how it constantly changes its requests. As I stated in The Confidential Guide, ‘One moment you have a bump and run into the short 6th and the next, a demanding forced carry. An open green like the 11th (there isn’t a bunker within 200 yards) that runs away is followed by a two tiered green ringed with trouble at the 12th.’ A switch back hole like the fourteenth requires a fade off the tee and a draw approach. The varied green features – table top fifth, front to back sixth, high right to low left seventh, back left to front right eighth – are exemplary. The golfer continually needs to adjust to what is being asked of him. Not only are the individual holes compelling but the shifting demands create a rhythm that borders on the sublime.

Compelling cases can be made for the Red and the Black. That’s what happens when talented architects are given the required space in which to express their art. The Red is replete with 1/2 par holes in differing directions (e.g. the first, fourth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth, and sixteenth) and the Black features some of the largest putting surfaces in the country.

Coore & Crenshaw’s one shot 14th is in the heart of the best land of the resort’s 16,000 acres.

The Black Course is removed from the Red and the Blue and enjoys its own voice. One of its unique attributes is the size of its greens, including this monstrous Punchbowl that caps off the 9th hole. Alex Aloisio, the Greenkeeper for the Black, has the surfaces hard and running so the thrill of such architecture really shines.

The Streamsong Resort is a runaway success, both environmentally and economically. It teems with people from around the world but the massive property dwarfs them. One of the hallmarks of a great course is that you would be chuffed to stroll the property without clubs.  These photographs were acquired on such a trek when two herds of deer were encountered and glimpses of the hotel with its ever-changing mood were afforded in the fading light. The wind flowing over the hued native grasses and rolling fairways tinged with yellow helped complete an exceptional outdoor experience. The commotion and excavation of phosphate mining is long gone, instead, there’s a profound peacefulness to the property that only highlights what a great steward to land man can be. Congratulations to Mosaic for creating something that gets people outside and enjoying a part of Florida that few would otherwise get to experience. Golfers everywhere win.

Wonder what one of the former dinosaurs might make of the sight of the lodge at sunset? He might ruminate “friend or foe”!

The End