It’s a world-class golf course and the anticipation is nearly over. Streamsong Black opens to the public on Friday, September 29. I had yesterday circled on my calendar for WEEKS. I got to play the course before it opened and I was like a fat kid at an all-you-can-eat candy buffet.
Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah. I experienced the Polk County resort’s third course on Monday along with other journalists and golf insiders from across the country. The opening of Streamsong Black, much like the audition Streamsong’s Red and Blue courses received a few years ago, was a homerun. The course is designed by world-renowned course architect Gil Hanse and his team. He has designed dozens of courses around the world including the course that played host to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The first thing that caught my attention was the view. From inside the sleek clubhouse, called The Bone Tavern, which is glass on all sides, you can see the spectacular layout that Hanse and his team built on old mining land owned by the Mosaic company. The landscape looks nothing like any other courses in Florida, aside from the neighboring Blue and Red runs on property.
The major difference between Black, Red and Blue is that Black stands alone. Red and Blue are intertwined and sight lines from both courses provide directives for shots on the hole you’re currently playing. On Black, Hanse had to be a little creative to provide dynamic shot points for players. The most notable of these features is the rusting, metal windmill that is perched behind the punch bowl green on No. 9.
The hole isn’t a long one – driveable for longer hitters – but the flag is totally hidden from view from the tee. I got an idea for where I would need to play my approach by looking at a diagram on the tee that displayed the pin placement up ahead. The windmill in the distance is the target line for the tee ball. A well-placed shot would give the player a chance to flip a wedge into the hidden green. I, unfortunately, sprayed my shot right. I had to play a 135-yard wedge into the punchbowl from some loose, sandy, native terrain. It’s all there is on edges of fairways. You won’t find traditional “rough” on Black. The only way to know where your second shot has landed is to climb the hill in front of the green and look down into the putting surface.
It was a very fun hole. I enjoyed it more than any other on the course. Admittedly, it’s the designer’s favorite hole as well.
Black’s style is described as “minimalistic” and plays as a par-73 thanks to five par-5s. The lengths vary widely on each, which gives players plenty of scoring opportunities. The back nine features dual green complexes on hole 13 and an infinity green on 17. The round concludes with a closing par-3.
The practice facility, dubbed The Roundabout, offers several putting areas and a full-length range. The Gauntlet awaits players on the practice green. The resort describes the 2-acre putting green as a “challenge” for all players. The Streamsong Resort now offers “non-traditional ways” to play, including 6-hole, 9-hole and 12-hole options.
On the food side, I was very impressed. The Bone Tavern has a 32-seat bar and served up a pretty great bunch for players. I ate a potato and sausage hash that was hidden under perfectly scrambled eggs. The menu is a big draw. I ate with the clubhouse designers... GREAT guys from Tampa. They did a wonderful job. The wood is burnt Japanese cedar. Who knew there was such a thing...
I walked the course. All players will be required to walk for the first few months. It was very hot but for anyone who has played either Blue or Red, you know that central Florida heat is a factor during your round. There is no shade because there are no trees on the courses.
Regardless, I will be back to Black.