2015 Golf Season in Review

For the first couple of years I wrote my blog, I did a write-up at the end of each year to put the season in to words, and to commend the courses I felt were the best that year in multiple categories.

As my site has continued to grow, this has become less academic, especially since I joined a private club a few years back and am obviously playing a much smaller sample of different courses each season.

It doesn’t hurt to write a little review, though, especially for my own pleasure to look back at in the future at what was the golf season of 2015.

The winter of 2015 extended a little longer than normal, with most golf courses opening in early April. This was a couple weeks earlier than in 2014, but months behind some years. I am already praying that 2016 will see course openings back in the February timeline again… Fingers crossed.

With last night’s first snow of the Winter, I figure this is as good a time as any to wrap things up… Not that I won’t be out there if/when the weather warms up and the grounds are healthy enough to play!

Most of my rounds this year were played at my home course of North Hills Country Club, which under the tutelage of Randy DuPont was in exceptional shape again all year round. My season was a roller coaster of sorts, starting out with an index of 12.1 and getting down to 9.0, shooting consistently for a while in the low 80’s.

Then I became a bad nine, right around September first, shooting 87-89 and losing money in my Saturday games. In games where the total monetary payout ranges from $3-5, I actually lost $45 one day. Ouch.

That is enough about my game, though – what about the courses from 2015?

2015: Best Public Golf Course Played

1. Pacific Dunes (OR)

Rated the number two public course by Golf Digest, number two modern course by GolfWeek, and number one public course in the country by Golf.com, Pacific Dunes is coastal golf at its very best. Designed by Tom Doak and opened in 2001, Pacific Dunes blends perfectly rugged Bandon landscape with ingenious hole layouts and execution.

Pacific Dunes hole 4

Pacific Dunes hole 4

Pacific Dunes Website

2. Streamsong, Red Course (FL)

Just a few years old, the Red course at Streamsong has already amassed an incredible number of accolades, including the number 18 public course in the United States.

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Golf Course Review: Streamsong, Red Course (FL)

Streamsong Resort, Red Course Rankings:

Golf Digest: #18 US public, #100 US greatest overall, #4 Florida
GolfWeek: #30 US modern, #2 Florida public, #12 US resort
Golf.com: #52 US top 100, #12 US public, #2 Florida public

Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crensaw (2012)

From the moment you turn on to the several mile long driveway of the extensively rural Streamsong Resort near Bowling Green, Florida, there is evidence everywhere that this is a different and amazing golf destination.

The entrance sign, a large stone slab with the “S” logo on it, stands out front and assures visitors that, yes, they have managed to find the correct driveway. Put the windows down and look all over – all you see is unspoiled land and nature. And the golf courses have the same feel: Unspoiled, natural, in harmony with the land.

Zen-like, if you will. It is not all peacefulness, though, as the rugged landscape of the Red course unfolds over and alongside alligator-infested swamps, deep, craggy bunkers, dramatic mounding in the fairways and a wonderful ebb and flow to the fairway levels.

Golfers get lost in nature over the first six holes – the most scenic and wild stretch on the property – before coming back toward the clubhouse and some fantastic inland layouts that challenge and amaze. The overall feel to the sequence on the Red course is one of intimidation in the midst of an abundance of glory.

Considerably more difficult off the tee than its sister Blue course (WiscoGolfAddict review of Streamsong, Blue course), the Coore/Crenshaw Red layout eases up on the throttle around the greens – while less wildly undulating than Doak’s putting surfaces, they can still never be described as “Easy.” Fast and true, downhill putts travel seemingly forever, and subtle yet strong breaks leave very few easy clean-up putts.

Slightly higher rated by all national and state-wide publications than the Blue course, the Red course has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen on a golf course. Coore and Crenshaw crafted this magnificent topography expertly in their creation of the nation’s 18th best public course (Golf Digest, 2015/2016) and 30th best overall modern golf course in the country (GolfWeek, 2015).

As a quick disclaimer, I was having a lot of issues with my cameras during this trip, so I apologize for the photos where there is a smudge in the top-left. It started when I got to the course and found that my backup camera (my girlfriend’s Digital Elph) had a crack in the viewing area from shipping, so I took my original Digital Elph to the first tee of the Blue course and it was giving me an error that the memory card was locked. I tinkered with that for a while, unsuccessfully, before going to my really old Digital Elph that appears to have some marks on the lens that will not come off. Thankfully, though, I did not have to go to my last resort of the iPhone!

The first hole tee box is situated just beyond Streamsong’s practice green, and features elevated tees that look over a large pond teeming with some of the largest gators I saw the entire trip.

I saw three during our trek across the bridge to the first fairway, including one that looked massive. I am told there have been occasions when a twelve-footer will come out around the bridge area, suspending play for short periods of time.

While this was not the case during our round, they are everywhere and I can imagine running in to one of these behemoths just before the fairway could get your heart pumping early.

The tee shot on one is one of the most forgiving on the Red course, with a wide fairway and straightaway layout. Slightly uphill from the fairway, the green is situated between large dunes with deep fairway bunkers short, short-left and right of the putting surface.

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Streamsong Red Hole 1: Par 4 (474/464/447/358)

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Streamsong Red Hole 1: Par 4 (474/464/447/358)

The second hole tees up over massive ponds with a fairway that runs hard left to right. “Don’t try to cut off any distance to the right,” I was told, and took aim at the middle-left portion of the fairway. A dramatic slice had it going toward the right side, and I could have sworn I saw it bounce. Gone – the fairway on the right runs hard in to the pond, and anything hit there will bound toward the water.

The first par five on the course, this hole is all about the tee shot. Play it safe and stay away from the right side and this is an excellent opportunity for an early birdie.

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Streamsong Red Hole 2: Par 5 (555/508/461/371)

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Streamsong Red Hole 2: Par 5 (555/508/461/371)

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Streamsong Red Hole 2: Par 5 (555/508/461/371)

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Watercolor: Streamsong Resort (FL)

I started this watercolor weeks before visiting Streamsong, and finally finished it up last night.

Streamsong Resort watercolor drawing, by Paul Seifert

Streamsong Resort watercolor drawing, by Paul Seifert

My decent artistic skills, at best, honestly do not do the resort and its beautiful clubhouse justice, but for me it’s pretty good!

For my articles on the Streamsong Resort and golfing experiences, please visit the following links:

Golf Destination: Streamsong Resort (FL)

Streamsong Resort, Blue Course (FL)

Streamsong Resort, Red Course (FL)