Last week, my girlfriend Kelly and I had the opportunity to check out the hottest new golf destination in the world: Streamsong Resort near Bowling Green, Florida.
In their third year of operation, Streamsong became eligible this year for the semi-annual “Best-of” lists for both Golf Digest and GolfWeek. Their rankings in both, as well as in all other major golf publications, are where you would expect them – near the top!
- Golf Digest 100 Greatest Public: Red Course #18 (link to list)
- Golf Digest 100 Greatest Public: Blue Course #24 (link to list)
- Golf Digest Best in State (FL): Red Course #4 (link to list)
- Golf Digest Best in State (FL): Blue Course #6 (link to list)
- Golf Digest Best Public in State (FL): Red Course #1 (link to list)
- Golf Digest Best Public in State (FL): Blue Course #3 (link to list)
- Golf Digest Top 100 Overall: Red Course #100 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Top 100 Modern: Red Course #30 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Top 100 Modern: Blue Course #43 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Best in State (FL): Red Course #2 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Best in State (FL): Blue Course #3 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Best Resort Golf Course: Red Course #12 (link to list)
- GolfWeek Best Resort Golf Course: Blue Course #14 (link to list)
- 2014 Golf.com Top 100 You Can Play: Red Course #12 (link to list)
- 2014 Golf.com Top 100 You Can Play: Blue Course #16 (link to list)
- 2015 USA Today Best Top-Notch Warm Weather Golf Destination #1 (link to list)
Some of the best golf in the country tends to mean high prices, but Streamsong has created great promotions that make stay-and-play an easier decision for buddies’ golf trips. In fact, between May 26 and September 9, golf enthusiasts can walk 18 and stay the night at this instant classic golf resort for just $139 apiece per night (based on double occupancy).
Walk-and-stay rates at Streamsong, based on season:
- April 16 – May 26: $269 per person
- May 26 – September 9: $139 per person (make it happen!)
- > September 10 (Winter rates): $349 per person
The golf courses at Streamsong are so good they should be on every enthusiast’s must-play list for 2015. On the same note, the lodging is so amazing that it would be silly to pay the $115-plus for golf and not take advantage of the stay-and-play packages to enjoy one of the most beautiful and luxurious resorts in the entire nation!
Min. golf rates at Streamsong, based on season:
- April 16 – may 26: $165 (walking)
- May 26 – September 9: $115 (walking)
- > September 10 (Winter rates): $225 (walking)
While golf is well over $100 per round on its own, average room rates during the warm Florida summer are $149/night, and go up to $349/night during the spring when the central Florida weather is perfect for Midwesterners like me during our hard winters.
Average room rates at Streamsong Resort, based on season:
- April 16 – May 26: $249-279/night
- May 26 – September 9: $149/night
- > September 10 (Winter rates): $349/night
To say that $139/person between May 26 and September 9 for both golf and lodging is an INCREDIBLE deal for both golf and lodging is an understatement! The other walk-and-stay rates they have are steals, too, when compared to the rates for lodging and/or golf, alone.
Bottom line: Do not fly to Tampa or Orlando and stay at some random hotel, then drive to the middle of nowhere to Streamsong for a round of golf and take off. The courses and resort at Streamsong go hand in hand, and neither should be experienced without the other. With as high-end as the golf courses are, the lodging one-ups them, if that is possible.
The resort offers free transfers between the lodge and the pro shop/courses, and Streamsong is best experienced on foot. While the courses are anything but flat, both Tom Doak and Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw designed them to be incredibly walker-friendly to best cater to high-end golfers who tend to be older in age.
Kelly and I were not the youngest people at Streamsong while we were there, but we were close. Kyle, who I golfed with on my second day on the Red course, and his wife were there from the Virginia area after he’d seen the resort in Golf Digest. His wife and Kelly both enjoyed the pool and all the amenities at the resort, and in fact I have been hearing from Kelly about how much she loved Streamsong since then.
The topography of the land is very un-Florida-like, but the tees are set in a way that the only major uphill climb is to the tee box of the first hole on the Blue course. The rest of the courses are quite walk-able, and carts would be very unnecessary and I personally believe would detract from the overall golfing experience.
Originally opened to the public in 2012, Streamsong is without a question the hottest golf resort in America. Its lodging, food and amenities are fantastic, but what brings droves of sportsmen and travelers to its remote piece of land in central Florida is the golf. The Red course, designed by one of the world’s hottest golf course architecture teams of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and the Blue course, designed by the world’s other hottest golf course architect Tom Doak, bill the destination as an instant classic, and neither disappoints.
Gil Hanse and his team are currently working on a third course on the property, the Black course, which is slated to open to the public in September, 2017. Hanse may not be as much of a household name as Coore/Crenshaw and Doak, but is a rising star in the golf course design industry and has recently been in the news for his work on the Rio De Janeiro Olympic course, as well as for his redesign work on Trump National Doral in Miami.
The same general area hosts both the Red and Blue course’s signature par three holes, and I was fortunate to have my caddies film both of my shots on them and actually hit the green both times:
Streamsong, Blue Course #7 (3-putt bogey):
Streamsong, Red Course #16 (1-putt birdie):
Located an hour and 10 minutes from Tampa International Airport, and an hour and a half from the Orlando International Airport, the first thing visitors to Streamsong Resort will notice is that it is literally in the middle of nowhere. The drive from Tampa was easy, though, and brought us along numerous back roads in to an area of Florida that looks nothing like “Florida.”
I once read a golf blog by a guy from Florida, which I will share here:
The author, David, started out with great intentions, before coming to the conclusion that Florida golf is all the same – there are four different hole layouts and only a couple of courses in the state that differ. Writing his last post in 2012, he did not stick it out to review Streamsong, which breaks all of the rules of Florida golf!
There are no homes on the courses at Streamsong. In fact, I don’t think we saw a home within 5-10 miles of the resort. For 30-45 minutes leading up to the driveway, there are signs that tell drivers where to turn to get to Streamsong, but if this course was built pre-GPS then golfers would have almost no chance of finding it.
As it turned out, this is a big part of what makes the resort at Streamsong so amazing – the remoteness of the facilities and the feeling of being in a previously untouched area that has done an unbelievable job of leaving the area natural and remote, and providing a world-class golf destination that leaves the land entirely unspoiled and allows visitors to enjoy an area that can provide as much relaxation as desired. For this and so much more, Streamsong is quite possibly Heaven on Earth.
When turning left off the two-lane road that takes you to the resort, lower the car windows and enjoy the five-minute drive through the wilderness. The sounds of nature abound everywhere as the driveway meanders through swamps and forests on either side of the road.
The level of customer service at Streamsong is top-notch, and this was evident the moment we pulled our rental Chevy Tahoe (a story unto itself!) up to the lodge’s valet parking. We were welcomed promptly, cordially checked in at the front desk and within five minutes had our luggage delivered to the room (my golf bag was brought to the clubhouse for storage, which is a five minute shuttle ride away).
Kelly and I stayed in a standard lakeside room with a King-sized bed. My first thoughts upon entering the room were that we must have been upgraded to a suite, but I was wrong. The standard rooms here are phenomenal, and the views are nothing short of spectacular.
With an in-room refrigerator, Keurig machine, writing station/desk and back-to-back flat-screen televisions, every amenity we needed was provided in-room. The king-sized bed was so comfortable, and the shower was fantastic. Probably my favorite part of the room, though, was the view.
I was first PADI-certified for SCUBA diving at the age of ten, and I have always had a huge love for anything aquatic. The lake just outside our windows provided a ton of entertainment for me – watching the action through the blinds, we saw alligators, massive turtles, swarms of big large-mouth bass, and a plethora of different species of birds carrying on their day-to-day activities below.
After arriving late on Wednesday afternoon, we caught our first shuttle to the clubhouse at Streamsong, got mojitos at the 59 restaurant bar, and made our way out to the viewing platform that overlooks the course’s bye hole and first tees out back. The wildness of the resort is on full display here, as we enjoyed our drinks and watched the gators cruise the pond that cuts between the course’s two signature par three holes.
We were motivated to experience everything we could at the resort during our three-day, two-night stay at Streamsong, and found everything there to be wonderful.
We had dinner at P2O5 the first night – the periodic table of the elements’ formula for Phosphate. The land at Streamsong was a phosphate mine at one time: The genesis for the course’s un-Florida-like changes in elevation, while a massive underlying aquifer provides the sand basin that provides the framework for almost all great modern golf courses’ foundations.
P2O5 is just right of the front entrance in the lodge, and has a nice modern feel and menu that features fresh seafood and steaks. Less expensive than its ultra-high-end counterpart, SottoTerra, P2O5 provides a great dining experience and a more laid-back atmosphere.
Kelly and I had the fish skewers appetizer, which was delicious, and for the main course I enjoyed the crab mac and cheese while she went with the salmon entree with roasted corn sauce, bacon whipped potatoes and balsamic onion marmalade. I would be remiss to not mention how good the pretzel bun croissants were!
Following our dinner we made our way up to the rooftop bar on the sixth floor at the lodge at Streamsong Resort, named Fragmentary Blue. Half sports bar, I was excited to get caught up on all the NHL and NBA playoffs action while enjoying some wonderful signature drinks, including the Regulus (Captain Morgan’s spiced rum with honey, fresh lime, pineapple juice and cider beer), Asterism (Maker’s Mark, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, honey, fresh lemon and ginger beer), and the Pleiades (Titos vodka, fresh grapefruit and lime juices, cucumber and sauvignon blanc). They were all remarkably refreshing and enjoyable drinks, but if I had to pick a personal favorite I would have to go with the Asterism.
We then made our way out to the rooftop patio, overlooking the lake and a beautiful sunset. The mosquitoes found us quickly, though, forcing us back inside. We mentioned it to the bartender, and he gave us mosquito repellent to head back outside to enjoy this gorgeous sunset, mosquito-free:
The next morning, I could barely stay in bed at the thought of getting my first look at the world-class golf courses at Streamsong. I had a 7:55 tee time on the Blue course, and had to make sure my clubs were where I needed them and that my new cork grip from Salty Grips had been delivered and successfully installed. I grabbed a quick breakfast at the 59 restaurant at the clubhouse, and found my clubs and caddie, Noah Zelnik aka “Big Z,” out back.
Noah and I had been tweeting back and forth over the past couple of weeks leading up to my visit, and he is somewhat of a legend in the Florida golf scene as an ex-professional player and two-time winning PGA Tour caddie for Michael Bradley (he is currently caddying for Arjun Atwal). Big Z is a great guy and I highly recommend both him and Jared, who caddied for me during my Friday round on the Red course. Both provide a phenomenal golfing experience and all the local knowledge and personal attention to detail that any avid golfer could ask for.
I was paired up with Jay, Chris and John for my morning round on the Blue course, who are from the Washington, DC area and on-site celebrating John’s 74th birthday. They were a great group to join and we had a ton of fun, not to mention we had great weather in the face of what looked like it could have become a very rainy day.
Following my round on the Blue course, Kelly met me at the 59 restaurant at the clubhouse and we grabbed lunch including what I was told a number of times might be the state of Florida’s best grouper sandwich – given my limited experience and enjoyment of the meal, I cannot say this is an untrue statement. Kelly went with the chicken salad, which she liked so much she ordered the same thing the following day.
Following lunch, Kelly and I took a shuttle back to the lodge and made our way to the Acquapietra Spa. We had 80-minute Swedish massages awaiting us, and following the 7-1/2 mile trek (18,000 steps according to my FitBit) around the Blue course it could not have come soon enough. My masseuse, Noemi, relieved all of my stress and had me in a perfectly relaxed state to later enjoy our romantic Thursday night dinner at Streamsong’s most upscale restaurant, SottoTerra.
First, though, we had to make the most of the remaining sun at the resort’s infinity pool, and of course have a cocktail from Hemy’s while laughing at the Facebook updates back home in Wisconsin saying things like, “Sleet, hail and snow in April, really?” It was 85 and sunny by us, and we could not have been happier. The view from the pool was beautiful out at the bayou-like lake and all of the fishermen catching large-mouth bass.
Exiting the pool for even a few minutes to take a look at the water meant catching glimpses of gators cruising the area looking for their next big meal. Signs say not to encroach on the wildlife area, and we happily obliged and were content taking it all in from the privacy of the pool area.
SottoTerra was terrific, and was my favorite meal of the entire vacation (including the famed Island Way Grill in Clearwater Beach on Friday night). I expanded my horizons with our fried risotto appetizer, featuring a delectable marinara sauce, and then enjoyed one of the greatest entrees ever: Lobster Cioppino. Twin lobster tails with shrimps, scallops, mussels… If I could eat that every night I would. Kelly got the pan-seared sea scallops over pasta, which was also wonderful. Their “Italian Mule” version of the Moscow mule was also very good.
We checked out the museum located in the lodge afterwards, which had some interesting photographs and artifacts from the Streamsong property, including this recreated jaw of a megalodon using all teeth found locally:
We grabbed drinks at Fragmentary Blue afterwards and enjoyed the natural sounds of the Streamsong wildlife from the rooftop patio:
After an incredible golfing experience on the Blue course on Thursday, Friday morning’s 7:50 tee time on the Red course was highly anticipated, to say the least. Noah was not able to be at the course that day, so I was anxious to get to the course early and grab some orange juice, a First Tee bar and banana and get the morning underway quickly. I met my new caddie for the day, Jared, at the putting green and somehow forgot to check out the speed of the greens ahead of time. This would turn out to be a terrible idea as I would struggle terribly on the front nine, which included six or seven of the most beautiful and scenic holes I have seen in my life.
I was paired with Kyle, who Kelly and I met the day before at the pool (he and his wife Carmen, our age, were visiting on vacation after he saw the resort in a Golf Digest magazine), Scott and Peter. Scott actually grew up in Milwaukee and we had some good conversations about my home golf course at North Hills Country Club. I have to say we could not have had a better group for the day, even though I did lose balls on four of the first five holes en route to saving an 89.
Kelly met me for lunch afterwards at 59, and I enjoyed the steak sandwich there even more than I did the grouper sandwich the day before. We both agreed that we have never been anywhere with a consistently better culinary experience. It was sad leaving on Friday afternoon, even though we had a lot to look forward to on the second half of our Florida trip in Clearwater Beach.
While Clearwater Beach offered the ocean and more options, it could not possibly provide anywhere near the enjoyment and peacefulness that Streamsong did. After being in a place so pure and unspoiled, Clearwater Beach felt busy, stressful and smelly. We were sad to leave this oasis of relaxation, but hope we will someday find our way back to the modern and sophisticated, yet unbelievably laid back and “Classic” new venue that is Streamsong.