Streamsong Black Course Review

50 Words or Less

Streamsong Black, located approximately 90 minutes from Orlando, Florida, is a tremendously fun Gil Hanse design.  Welcoming to all skill levels but a solid challenge to better players, especially when the wind is up.

Introduction

One of the reasons I trek to the PGA Show every January is to have an excuse to get out to Streamsong.  Having played – and loved – both the Red and Blue courses, I was especially excited to check out the just-opened Black Course.  My round there lived up to all my expectations and only makes me more excited for future returns.

Practice Facilities

Streamsong Black is set apart from the Blue and Red courses, and it has its own practice facilities.  The range is similar – large, well kept, and fully appointed with quality range balls and alignment sticks.  Near the range is a short game area where you can work on your bunker shots (strongly recommended).  The putting green is located exactly where it should be – between the range and the first tee – so you can warm up your flat stick right up to your tee time.

In addition to the standard practice facilities, Streamsong Black has The Gauntlet and The Roundabout.  The Gauntlet is a 2-acre, 18-hole putting course located outside the clubhouse.  Playing it, with or without a beer in hand, is a blast.  It’s also a great way to warm up for the difficult putting challenges that you’ll face during your round.

The Roundabout is a “free-flowing practice area” with six green complexes set over multiple acres.  It allows you to choose your own adventure and create anything from a 340-yard par 3 to a pitch and putt contest.  It’s the perfect place for golfers who don’t want their day to end on the 18th green.

Customer Service & Amenities

In addition to separate practice facilities, Streamsong Black has its own clubhouse.  It’s distinct from the clubhouse at the Blue and Red, but similar in its modern styling.  The largely-glass building houses a restaurant – Bone Valley Tavern – and its own pro shop.

On the course, there are ample opportunities to get water, which is essential on this six mile hike.  The Tin Can, the Black’s halfway house, serves empanadas in addition to the standard selection of nuts, granola bars, and candy.  I have a slight preference for the tacos on the Blue, but the empanadas were still quite good.

Finally, the staff at Streamsong deserves recognition for their efforts.  Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful.  The starter gave us excellent advice on tee selection in the 20+ MPH winds.  The staff at the bag drop took care of everything we needed, often before we realized we needed it.

Beauty & Scenery

Streamsong Black is laid out across much more acreage than either Blue or Red, but the differences in contours make it feel more compact.  Where the Blue and Red use massive sand dunes to isolate every hole, at the Black you’re able to see other golfers much of the time.  The smaller dunes also allow for longer, wider vistas.

In addition the views that go on forever, the reveals are what defines that look of Streamsong Black.  On holes 3, 9, and 18, you climb a hill anxious to find out what’s on the other side.  None of the views will leave you disappointed.

Tee Shots

Fun is the key word at Streamsong Black, and that starts at the tee.  Gil Hanse knows that driving it into the junk is no fun, so he’s provided fairways that are as wide as any I’ve seen.  Those that keep stats will love it – it’s almost impossible to hit fewer than 10 fairways.

Though the fairways are wide, there are some tee shots that will make you uncomfortable.  Some holes appear to pinch in severely and others don’t make it clear which way the hole will turn.  What I found in every instance, however, was that the tough appearance masked a forgiving reality.  The fairways that looked pinched were actually just hiding short grass behind elevation and bunkers.

While some may think that wide fairways eliminate the skill of good driving, at Streamsong Black they actually exaggerate it.  If you can’t place your tee shots on the correct side of the fairway, you face much more challenging approach shots.  Also, when the wind blows like it did on the day we played, even the widest fairways can be hard to find.

Streamsong Black is also home to three par 4s that, depending on the wind and your tee box selection, can be driven.  Holding the green at #2 is nearly impossible, but #6 and #14 will give you plenty to think about from the tee.

Approaches

Streamsong Black is one of the rare courses that will give you the chance to hit every club and every shot over the course of a round.  You’ll hit shots into greens that are uphill, downhill, blind, well-guarded, and wide open.  The conditions of the course allow you to play the ground game, but you need to be a skilled practitioner if you’re going to handle the slopes and elevation.

Just as the tee shots will boost your driving stats, the massive greens will pump up your greens in regulation.  Some putting surfaces are fifty yards wide and/or deep!  If you intend on going low, you will need a rangefinder or a good pin sheet, because the middle of the green may be miles from the pin.

You can have an average ball striking round and get a lot of GIRs at the Black, but precision is key if you want to make birdies.  There are some treacherous slopes on the greens, and you need to be in the right locations to have makeable putts.

With enough local knowledge (or a good caddie), you can put many of those slopes to good use on your approaches.  As you’ll see in the two pictures below, many of the greens are banked to retain approach shots.

Greens & Surrounds

Let me start by reiterating that these greens are enormous, easily some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.  And, were it not for the neighboring Blue course, I’d say that some of the curves are diabolical.

There are putts on these greens that are unmakeable, but the slopes can also be used for good.  Above you see the 9th green which is bowled to welcome the blind approach.  It’s typical of many of the greens, which are raised at the edges to help approaches stay on board.  Below, you see how the raised lip will help short approaches find the middle of the green and not the trap.  However, these same slopes can make chipping and pitching very challenging.

Something else you can see in all these pictures is that there’s no rough.  The fairways run almost as fast as the greens, meaning you can putt from just about any short game situation.  Where you will be challenged is in your distance control.  Whether you’re on or off the green, putts of 50 feet and more are common place, and almost all of them involve significant elevation change.  The single most important skill you can have on the Black is lag putting.

Conclusion

In my golf travels, I’ve concluded there are two types of destinations: ones you cross off your list and ones you immediately start planning to get back to.  Streamsong has always been the latter for me, and with the addition of Streamsong Black, its pull is even greater.  Between the Black itself, the Gauntlet, and the Roundabout, you’ll want to be there from sun up to sun down for as many days as you can.

Matt Saternus

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