Streamsong, Blue Course Rankings:
Golf Digest: #24 US public, #6 Florida
GolfWeek: #43 US modern, #3 Florida public, #14 US resort
Golf.com: #62 US top 100, #16 US public, #3 Florida public
Designer: Tom Doak (2012)
The Blue course at Streamsong, designed by Tom Doak and opened for public play in 2013, is the nation’s 24th best public course according to Golf Digest, and the 30th best modern course according to GolfWeek.
While the Red course tends to rank slightly higher in the state and national rankings (in this rare air of course rankings, there is not much room to move!), the Blue course is a wonderful complement, and the two play off of one another well while providing different playing experiences. The key differences between the Blue and Red courses, to me, are:
- The Blue course is much easier off the tee
- The Blue course is more challenging on the greens
- The Blue course is softer – Doak has a way of creating angles that are less harsh but that need to be paid attention to
- Overall, the Blue course is slightly less rugged than the Red course
The wide target areas off the tees on the Blue course are great for a guy like me, who can hit the ball a ton but tends to spray drives.
The unbelievably challenging greens of the Blue course, on the other hand, can be tough for a guy like me who usually takes a handful of holes to acquire a feel for new, and especially lightning fast, greens.
While I opened things up with a one-putt birdie on the first hole (yes, I did take a breakfast ball), it took longer than usual to get the pace of these perfectly rolling putting surfaces. Watching everything glide by and not stop for 20 more feet was starting to get a little old!
It is not so much that the greens are fast (although they are!), but that they have an incredible amount of slope. Like playing at a great country club, anything putted downhill needs to be stroked with incredible care or else lost to the fringe. It is not all on back-to-front putts at Streamsong, though, as the swells in the greens are substantial and can take away all of a ball’s momentum or speed it up indefinitely.
When visiting Streamsong, make sure to play both the Blue and Red courses, and make sure to stay on site, especially to take advantage of their fantastic stay-and-play packages! While the courses provide world-class golf, the resort provides an unparalleled lodging and culinary experience. For my full review of the Streamsong Resort, including additional information on their stay-and-play packages, please visit the following link:
Streamsong boasts one of the best caddie rosters in the entire country. If an extra $80-100 per round is affordable, these guys can really help reduce strokes and add to the overall golfing experience.
My caddie for the Blue course, Noah Zelnik, is a bit of a legend around Florida golf. Having also played on the PGA Tour, Noah has caddied for two Tour wins (with Michael Bradley) and is currently on the bag for Arjun Atwal. “Big Z” knows golf and, like all caddies at Streamsong, knows the courses here like the back of his hand.
The courses at Streamsong were designed with walkability in mind. The toughest trek at the entire property comes early, though: A 75-foot climb up to the first hole tee box. The rest of the terrain is much more easily trespassed, catering to the older, more affluent customer base that frequents this walking-preferred resort. If the 75-foot walk on one is a challenge, staff is more than happy to provide cart rides to the tee.
Overlooking the course in front, the beautiful, modern clubhouse and its neighboring pond and wildlife behind, and the Blue and Red courses’ signature holes to the right, this is one of the most dramatic first hole tee boxes I have ever seen.
The fairway on one is plenty wide, although for Blue course standards there is a bit of danger that can come in to play by way of the sand traps found both left and right. For longer hitters, these are too close to the tee box to worry about.
The view back over the bye hole and toward the clubhouse from the first hole tee boxes:
The view from the first hole tee boxes toward both courses’ signature par three holes – seven on the Blue course, and sixteen on the Red course:
Following the gorgeous first hole tee shot is a tough uphill approach, with a green that runs away from the fairway and to the middle-left from the front-right of the putting surface.
Aim well left of the fairway sand trap on the right off the tee on two, as anything right of the area is likely lost. The second hole is a fairly long par five at 530 yards, and the green is very well protected by bunkers and some massive slopes.
Holding this narrow from front-to-back green on any approach is a challenge, so the safe play is to the middle or right side of the putting surface to avoid the trap back-left.
With water left, the third hole has a wide fairway with all kinds of space to miss right. Avoid the fairway bunker and have a short approach in to a heavily risen green with a steep false front.
One of the toughest par fours on the course, the approach to the green complex on four is severely elevated, and the green complex itself is just as challenging with a heavy ridge running through it.
An approach from the right side of the fairway will need to carry this massive sand blow-out carved in to the hill:
The fifth is one of the toughest short par threes you will find anywhere, although Big Z told me he had a guy actually putt his tee shot to within a couple of feet for birdie one time.
With a front-middle pin location for our round, the fifth was playing 95 yards and I opted for a more traditional 52-degree wedge. I pushed it a little, which worked well as the narrow entrance just left of the right-side bunker kicks shots hard left and set me up with a ten-foot snake of a putt for a birdie chance.
With a green that is 67 yards deep, this short par three can be lengthened to be considerably longer.
Following the shortest par three at the resort is one of the shortest par fours: A reachable slight dogleg right with one of the trickiest greens on the entire course. At 317 yards downwind, it was reachable but would have required a perfect line between the traps that front the green complex. The fairway rolls downhill toward the green, making anything close best approached by a low chip shot. The green here sweeps hard from the front-right to the middle.
The signature hole of all signature holes, the seventh on Streamsong’s Blue course is a thing of absolute beauty. Teeing off over the large pond that runs up to the side of the clubhouse, the tee shot is mesmerizing with some of the greatest scenery on the property.
I have been told that the sixth hole on the Blue course is potentially the most often photographed hole in all of golf right now. I do not doubt it!
Quit staring at the scenery for long enough to concentrate on this tee shot. At 188 yards downhill from the black tees to a steeply rising green complex, the seventh is as challenging of a par three as it is beautiful.
The view back from the green to the elevated tee boxes on the seventh hole on the Blue course at Streamsong:
Eight is a great, long par four! While the left side of the fairway leaves a shorter approach, it also brings in to play a pond just short-left of the green complex. The green is well risen and nestled between three huge sand traps – two to the right and one short-left.
Drives to the right side of the fairway can take the water out of play, but still have to avoid those two devilish sand traps that guard the right side of the green. A stark false front also creates havoc on a green that shows only the front section, but is actually rather long while sloping from back to front.
The closing hole on the front nine on the Blue course is a terrific finishing hole. A blind tee shot leads to a wide open fairway that has to be at least 60 yards wide. Aim just left of the three sand traps buried in the hill and wail away.
Anywhere on the fairway is fine for the second shot, but the farther out the drive goes the more difficult the decision will be to go for it in two or lay up.
The entrance to the green on nine is risen only slightly from the fairway level, and is well protected by sand on the front-right and short-left. The green slopes hard from the back, so long approaches will need to grab quickly to avoid nasty downhill putts or chips from the back.
The back nine on the Blue course starts with a mid-range par three that looks benign, but is a wonderful test of golf. At 161 yards from the black tees, this green is very wide but narrow from front to back. A slight false front leads toward the front-left sand trap, and anything hit right will find an even deeper green-side bunker.
A long par four, the eleventh is a soft dogleg left with a spattering of sand traps on the horizon. What looks from pictures to be one of the easiest greens on the entire property is actually quite tough, with fall-offs found in all directions to make for uncomfortable chips back on to the putting surface.
The fairway on eleven is extremely wide, so drive as far as possible to shorten up the approach shot on this 454-yard behemoth.
Success on the 390-yard par four twelfth hole hinges on strategy and the approach shot. With another generous fairway, there is little danger off the tee, but the approach shot will need to carry a small pond short-right (well short) and a bevy of green-side bunkers that protect this two-tiered green complex.
A three-foot tall ridge runs laterally through the middle of the green on twelve, so hitting the right level is germane to scoring here.
“Hit this six-iron toward the left side,” Big Z told me. I did, and it looked like it fell off the face of the earth. Worried it went too far toward the pond, I was a little nervous. “That’s perfect,” he said.
Turns out it was, leaving me a short wedge shot in to a perched green on a sucker bet of a “Drivable par four.” The margin for error if going for it on this less than 300-yard tee shot is so narrow that anything other than iron off the tee would be irresponsible (or ill-informed).
That being said, this short par four has had a hole-in-one already – one of the Assistant PGA Professionals at Streamsong aced it last year!
Gator roaming the pond off the tee boxes on fourteen:
The fourteenth might the widest fairway driving area on the entire course – the reason: It shares a fairway with the par four fifteenth. I went way too far left off the tee here, and found it perfectly in the fifteenth fairway. While the hole’s own playing surface would be preferred, it makes hugging the water line for extra distance unnecessary.
Laying my second shot up to 100 yards from the green on the other side of the wasteland, I took aim and completely flubbed my approach in to the wasteland… Very disappointing!
Coming back the opposite way of the double-fairway on fourteen, the fifteenth is one of the easiest holes on the Blue course to get to in regulation, as the fairway is relatively wide open [other than the treeline to the right] and leads to a short approach that has no sand or water to carry.
Instead of front-side sand traps, Doak added in a mound that creates a bit of an optical illusion – the green looks closer than it really is. It also hides a bit of the mounding in the putting surface, which is substantial.
The longest par three on the Blue course, the sixteenth is best played again taking advantage of local knowledge. Avoid aiming straight at the green and instead hang the tee shot out over the short-left sand trap to bound right off the hill and eventually toward the center of the green complex.
My favorite of all the par fives at Streamsong, the seventeenth on the Blue course has serious wow factor right off the tee. Doak’s design of the cross-bunkers as a forced carry is brilliant, and the option to go for it off a great drive down this wide fairway creates a big-time risk/reward opportunity.
The green is situated right of the cross-bunkers, over the right-side tree line shown below:
While I absolutely love the design of this hole, I cannot say I am in love with the hole location for our round: About three paces off the front-left part of the green in a hollow. After everyone putted out, Noah showed us the best way to approach this hole location, which involved putting the ball from the middle of the green down the mound and past the pin to the fringe, then watching it reverse direction and fall back down the side of the green to within a foot below the hole. Didn’t recognize that one at first!
Every great golf course has a challenging finishing hole, and the Blue course at Streamsong is no exception. From a knee-knocking 478 yards from the tips (453 from the first tees in), the tee shot is toward the left side of the fairway and the dunes beyond. A massive swale in the fairway can help good tee shots get some extra distance, but can also lead to some gnarly downhill/side-hill lies.
The one place to avoid the most on the eighteenth is the right side sand traps. I mention that because this is exactly where my drive ended up. The ball was literally buried in the side of the sand just below the grass level, and the only play I had was to blast at the hillside sideways and hope that it shot out of the wasteland, in general. Fortunately for me, it did and got me back to the fairway plus some extra distance from a nice downhill run.
A look at the swale in the fairway, leading toward the green and the clubhouse beyond:
A typical approach shot on the eighteenth may look like this:
Did your match end in a tie? Want to challenge your caddie to a one-shot swing-off? The bye hole near the putting green is an excellent opportunity to settle things once and for all with a mid-range wedge shot of around 125 yards.
I challenged Noah for an extra $20 tip, and hit a nice 52-degree wedge to about 15 feet. He then took my 60-degree wedge, took one practice swing and hit a rope to five. Keep in mind that these guys are really good, and don’t get in over your head regardless of how good your swing feels!
While I did manage a one-putt birdie on the first hole of the Blue course, I also three-putted twice during my out nine to open with a 41 on 19 putts. While my putting was slightly better on the back, my scoring was not, mainly because of a triple-bogey on eleven and double on fourteen. I was happy with my 87, though, and extraordinarily pleased with the entire Streamsong Blue golfing experience.
Both courses at Streamsong Resort are phenomenally well designed to be perfect for golfers of all ages to walk their rounds. During some times of the year, in fact, it is a walking-only facility. While power carts are available during certain times, staying on foot truly boosts the overall experience and lets golfers fully take in the stunning, natural setting that is Streamsong. Want more evidence that is sure to make you want to walk this beautiful golf course? Check out this Golf/Man video by Ashworth, of Justin Rose at Streamsong:
Location: Streamsong, FL
Yardage: Green-7176, Black-6698, Silver-6285, Gold-5531
Slope/Rating: Green-131/74.1, Black-127/72, Silver-123/69.7, Gold-122/71.6
Weekend Rates: $115 (Summer) to $225 (Winter)