One of the most unusual and exciting golf projects of recent years is currently taking shape in an isolated part of central Florida.
The Streamsong resort, featuring twin eighteen hole courses designed by the teams of Coore & Crenshaw and Renaissance Golf Design, has been in construction since summer 2010, and is largely shaped up. Irrigation installation is scheduled to start within the next couple of months, and the development teams aim to start grassing later in the year. A soft opening is planned for 2012, with the resort being fully opened the following year.
Streamsong’s developer, mining giant Mosaic, is among the largest landowners in Florida. The 16,000 acre property on which the resort sits has belonged to the company for many decades, and has only very recently ceased to be actively mined. Indeed, the mining operation just went through the area selected for some of the early holes on the Coore & Crenshaw course.
Spending a day on the Streamsong site with Bill Coore and his associate Keith Rhebb was an unalloyed pleasure. In a collaboration that is surely unique, Coore and Renaissance principal Tom Doak, who have been friends for many years, routed the two courses together, with the result that some holes identified by Coore have ended up on the Doak course, and vice-versa.
For Coore & Crenshaw, the Streamsong course is going to be something of a departure. The firm is famous for its policy of minimal reshaping of the land, and while there are many holes at Streamsong that were lying there waiting to be found, the nature of the mining operation means that other parts of the site have needed more significant reshaping. The fifth hole, for example, which runs along a lake in the most severe part of the site, required a fairly large scale piece of earthmoving.
Another characteristic of Streamsong, unusual for both the C&C and Renaissance teams, will be a considerable number of water holes. The landscape created by the mining operation, which involved huge draglines ripping up the land, pumping out the phosphates and dumping the sand, features dune-like landforms up to 100 feet high, with a number of lakes between them. The par three seventh on the Doak course has been much photographed already, but the same lake is crossed, also by a par three, on the C&C course. On this hole, which will play up to 240 yards from the very back tees, shaper Jimbo Wright has created a dramatic Biarritz-style green. With a huge dune to the right, the lake to the front and a dry drainage channel to the left, this hole is sure to join the pantheon of Biarritz holes when the course opens.
Another standout hole is the short par four, uphill eighth, which features a massive bunker on the right side of the fairway, and a wide, crowned green, at the top of the rise. The par five sixth, only just over 500 yards long, will have a wonderful drive over the corner of another lake to a green protected by the water to the left and a small dune to the right. The dune, and the position of the flag, will dictate the strategy – a rear pin will be the killer, with possible approaches from the left side, by fading the ball around the dune, or from the right, running a shot in behind the mound.
The thirteenth hole is another tremendous par five, again with its strategy determined from the green backwards. Another dune protects the green, meaning that golfers must either hug the right side of the massively wide fairway, or, if they are brave enough and long enough, go left and hit the green in two with an epic carry over broken ground.
With no irrigation yet in place, and the site’s sand thus blowing around, it’s impossible to make a final judgement on Streamsong. But one thing is quite clear – it will be something very, very different from the vast majority of Florida’s golf courses!
See issue 24 of GCA, to be published in April, for a full article on the Streamsong project