The PGA Merchandise Show kicked off Wednesday morning with an exciting announcement about one of my favorite golf destinations: Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Florida.
With three 18-hole championship courses already open and thriving, and the resort’s 10-year anniversary underway, the time is right for expansion, and this investment in the facility’s infrastructure is a smart, strategic one that will allow guests to play more golf on-site in less time at a more affordable price point.
The new course, which will be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, will be Streamsong’s fourth 18-hole layout on property. Most of the comparisons will stop there.
The Red, Blue and Black courses are all long, even by today’s standards, with massive expanses of exposed sand and holes shaped amid manmade lakes and wild dunes – remnants of former phosphate mining operations by the resort’s parent company, The Mosaic Group.
Mosaic’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Ben Pratt, led Wednesday’s announcement, which included multiple members of Streamsong’s leadership team and their trusted operations partner, KemperSports.
So, in what ways will this course differ from the others at Streamsong?
To start, it will be half the length. While the Black, Blue and Red courses all tip out at over 7,000 yards (led by the Black course’s 7,320), the new design will play to around 3,500.
The new course will also not have par and will have recommended teeing areas versus the typically laid out staggered sets of boxes. If a long, forced carry over water isn’t in your bag or you’re not feeling it, tee up closer.
While players will be able to find plenty of challenge if and when they want it, this new golf experience will be first and foremost about their enjoyment of the game.
The new course will also not be named for a color, but will have a name unique to its own identity (which has not yet been revealed).
Do you know, by the way, why the other courses are named as they are?
With the occasional sharing of land on the Blue and Red courses (for example, by their signature par threes over water, Blue 7 and Red 17, pictured below), the separate design teams had to use different colored markers.
Tom Doak used a blue Sharpie and Coore & Crenshaw used a red one. While the Black course’s terrain does not connect or overlap with the others, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner used – you guessed it – black.
One thing that will be familiar to golf enthusiasts visiting Streamsong will be its world-class architectural team: Coore & Crenshaw is returning to design the new 18 holes and corresponding 4-acre (huge!) putting course, along with their land-shaping savant, Keith Rhebb.
I for one am expecting great things out of this course. The land it’s being laid out on is shapely and with interesting features, like the long water hazards in my below photo from earlier this month, and it has a similar, sandy basin that’s allowed their other courses to be developed with such dramatic flair and character.
Non-championship golf course architecture
Chief among the reasons I’m expecting this course to be so good (beyond the design team and my predisposition to loving golf at Streamsong) is that it will be unconventional.
Traditional championship courses can constrain course architects into designing safely, and always being cognizant of not going overboard or developing something “gimmicky” – cliche terminology architects veer from like the plague.
Being 18 holes compressed into 3,500 yards, Coore & Crenshaw’s new course can straddle the line of conventional design and the outermost boundaries of their creativity, and trust me there’s plenty of that in this duo’s collective brain space.
For great examples, look no further than two other Coore & Crenshaw short courses: The 13-hole Bandon Preserve at Bandon Dunes and 17-hole Sandbox at Sand Valley. Both are great walks at world-class American golf resorts with unique, at times borderline unfair green complexes, fast conditions and beautiful scenery (especially at the Preserve).
These rounds allow players to set out with Sunday bags filled with just a handful of clubs and a couple golf balls, taking the pressure off their feet and shoulders and putting it instead on thoughtfully challenging shot-making and settling bets with friends.
As I’ve written about exhaustively over the past couple years, this is the most popular trend in golf course development today as destinations like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, The Prairie Club and, more locally Kohler, Sand Valley, Trapper’s Turn, Hawk’s Landing and Geneva National have all added, or are in the process of adding, non-championship courses and amenities to allow their guests to create more positive, memorable golf experiences while on-site.
With lack of time being one of the key detractors keeping folks from playing more golf, and with a captive audience already at their resorts, it makes all the sense in the world.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Bill Coore several times over the years, including once at Streamsong. His mind seems to work in wonderful, strategic ways, which bears out when considering the pedigree of courses he and Crenshaw have designed together.
Among GolfWeek’s list of the country’s top 200 modern courses (developed since 1960), for example, Coore & Crenshaw designed:
- #1 Sand Hills (NE)
- #3 Friar’s Head (NY)
- #13 Sheep Ranch (OR)
- #15 Bandon Trails (OR)
- #19 Old Sandwich (MA)
- #32 Sand Valley (WI)
- #33 Colorado Golf Club (CO)
- #37 Streamsong Red (FL)
- #41 Kapalua Plantation (HI)
- #88 Austin Golf Club (TX)
- #92 Hidden Creek (NJ)
- #97 Clear Creek Tahoe (NV)
- #100 Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee (GA)
- #110 Big Cedar Lodge, Ozarks National (MO)
- #141T Dormie Club (NC)
- #141T Trinity Forest (TX)
- #145 Chechesee Creek (SC)
- #200 We-Ko-Pa, Saguaro (AZ)
At a 2015 Sand Valley media event prior to the resort’s development, Coore told us:
“More than anything, we want to do something different. We do not want to design the same style of course over and over on the same type of terrain.”
– Bill Coore ~ Coore & Crenshaw Design
This team has a resume crowded with bold, imaginative golf courses, and Coore himself is quoted as saying “The site for the short course [at Streamsong] is dramatically gifted for golf.”
This tract of land should allow them to get very creative, and to develop something both unique to the resort and overall industry. With the shackles of conventional golf course design’s needs and expectations lifted, players can expect architecture that’s significant, exhilarating and not at all what they’re used to seeing and playing.
“Although smaller in scale and different in character from the Blue, Black and Red Courses, we believe the site has the potential to complement the amazing golf experiences that have made Streamsong one of our nation’s most highly acclaimed golf destinations.”
– Bill Coore ~ Coore & Crenshaw Design
When guests are “adding a little more golf to their itinerary” at a destination that’s already home to the country’s number 20, 26 and 34 ranked public courses, they’ll want a unique and engaging experience. I expect that and more out of this new C&C track when it debuts.
So, when can golf enthusiasts add another 18 holes to their days at Streamsong? While Coore & Crenshaw is incredibly busy these days, the land is already in the process of being cleared for shaping and ownership anticipates the design process to take off in earnest within the next six months.
As a conservative and un-educated estimate (there’s no committed time frame at this juncture), I’d expect it to be open for play around late 2023 or early 2024.
Shucks, it seems like I’ll need to make another return visit to Streamsong!