Streamsong’s Red course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, was named by Golf Digest as the number one new course in the country in 2013, and Streamsong’s resort has thrived over the past two years to become the country’s hottest golf destination.
The Red course ends in fantastic fashion, with a sensational par three sixteenth over water to a 100-yard long biarritz green, a strong par four seventeenth and then one of the best finishing holes found anywhere: The par five eighteenth.
The eighteenth is framed beautifully by the sand dunes that tower above the right-hand side of the playing surface, and lead to a magnificently contoured green complex.
The hole is not overly long, especially for a modern day par five tipping out at 540 yards, but there are quite a few nuances to it that defend the eighteenth from being an easy birdie hole.
First are the sand traps in and around the fairways. The sandy wasteland fronting the tees should not come in to play for most players who can carry the ball 75-150 yards, depending on tee selection, but the deep trap that runs the left side of the fairway certainly can. The sand dunes right of the fairway can also come in to play with sliced shots.
My drive on the eighteenth found the deep trap on the left side, for example, leaving this bunker shot out:
Strategy is key to scoring on the eighteenth, as the contours of the green complex make accuracy on the approach pivotal. Going at this green from the left side means having to carry sand, and approaching it from the middle to right side of the fairway means a more direct shot with a wider green, but also having to carry a major false front.
At a recent media trip to the site of Coore/Crenshaw’s current project at Sand Valley in central Wisconsin, I asked Bill Coore about this hole, and specifically about its green complex: “How do you know when a green is right? Take, for example, the 18th on the Red course at Streamsong?”
Coore’s answer: “When it feels right. The difference between a great green and a terrible green is very narrow. We (Coore and Ben Crenshaw) encourage our staff to be creative and ‘go with it.’ The result is a combination of artistry, strategy and of course drainage.” Mr. Coore asked [Streamsong Superintendent Rusty Mercer], “Can you and your team mow this?” “We can mow this,” he told Bill. If he had responded any other way, the green would have been altered and this great complex would not stand as it does today, and probably yield a lot lower scoring average.
At 540 yards from the tips, or 505 from the first tees in, this is a reachable par five in two shots. The second shot would surely be a long approach, though, and would have to carry the traps front-left of the green in order to have any chance at holding it.
Anything hit near the middle to right side of the green would hit its tremendous false front in that direction, and undoubtedly roll in to the collection area that requires skillful uphill wedge play from tight lies.
Coore and Crenshaw are masters of providing golfers with shot options, and the finishing hole on Streamsong’s beautiful Red course is a terrific example of that.
Course: Streamsong, Red course
Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw (2012)
Location: Streamsong, FL