If you’re searching for one of the best, more pure golf experiences in the country, fly into Orlando and start driving south. Keep going past the small towns, keep driving when you think you’ve gone too far, and eventually you’ll find Streamsong. Ninety minutes south of Orlando, surrounded by miles of nothing, this former mine has been turned into a golf destination with few rivals.
A quick cart ride from the club house takes you up to Streamsong’s driving range and short game area. Each spot on the range has a wooden bag stand equipped with tees, a bag of Titleist NXTs, and an alignment stick. The conditions on the range mirror the fairways perfectly and there are plenty of targets to help you dial in your distances. The short game area is one of the largest I’ve ever seen – it easily accommodates 15-20 golfers – and it’s an essential stop before your round. Finally, the massive putting green is located within feet of the first tee, allowing you to work on navigating the treacherous greens right up to your tee time.
Amenities & Customer Service
The staff at Streamsong is the most attentive and friendly I’ve found anywhere. When we pulled up, there were four employees waiting to take our bags and valet the car. We turned down their offer (we had cameras and drones to deal with), so they followed us into the parking lot with a cart to shuttle us back to the clubhouse. That level of attention continued throughout our stay. Though it was never overbearing or uncomfortable, there was always someone waiting to cart us to the range, clean our clubs, or carry our bags.
A major key to the Streamsong experience is their army of professional loopers armed with the local knowledge that you need to successfully navigate the courses. Taking a caddy is strongly recommended, especially for your first trip around each course.
The amenities at Streamsong are on par with the service. The pro shop features a full line of Titleist clubs in addition to the usual assortment of apparel from top brands. Where it goes a step beyond is in offering unique mementos from brands like Seamus Golf. The clubhouse restaurant, Restaurant Fifty-Nine, is the best I’ve encountered. All of this is housed in an award-winning clubhouse designed by Alberto Alfonso which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen at a golf course.
On the course, “The Shack” offers snacks and drinks as you finish the 8th hole on the Red. This small detail – separating the snacks from the clubhouse – is one of many things that keeps the pace of play brisk. Additionally, there is a drink cart and free water near most tee boxes. The water is essential, especially during “Walking Only” season.
The conditions at Streamsong – firm and fast – are as essential to the way the course plays as any bunker or green design. There are few courses that I’ve ever played where the ground game demands so much attention. Landing your shots in the correct locations is only half the battle here.
Importantly, the condition of the fairways, tee boxes, and greens are extremely consistent throughout the course. The tee boxes are flat, the fairways are very tight, and the greens – though a little sandy – roll quick and very true.
Beauty & Scenery
Streamsong is a gorgeous and unique place. My photography does it little justice and the photos on their website, while excellent, don’t either. More than the views, it’s the feel of the place. With the exceptions of the clubhouse and the lodge, you will not see a single building while you’re on the course. Though you’re surrounded by golf, elevation and water keep you feeling smothered by other golfers.
The architects of both courses also did a wonderful job preserving the natural feel of Streamsong. It’s one of the those courses that appears to have been created by nature rather than bulldozers because the natural features are every bit as dramatic and beautiful as the ones shaped by the designers.
Course Design & Difficulty
As I drove back from Streamsong, I started thinking about what I might tell someone about the course. “You need to drive it well,” I thought, “but you also need accurate, well-planned iron shots. And sharp wedge skills. And you’ll have some tough putts.” The conclusion that I came to is that Streamsong Red is really one of the best, most complete tests of golf that I’ve encountered.
Off the tee, Coore and Crenshaw give the player a lot of leeway, but woe to the golfers who stray from those wide fairways. Water is certainly not the predominant feature of Streamsong, but there are ample opportunities to drown your ball with an errant tee shot. When water isn’t in play, you can count on the fairways being lined by sandy waste areas.
Shots into the green will be the biggest challenge for golfers used to American “target golf.” If you ignore the contours of the course, you can land a shot pin high and watch it run off the green. Golfers that listen to their caddies, however, will find that good planning can trump pinpoint accuracy. Though I’m not used to this type of golf, I found it enjoyable. What I really liked is that, with few exceptions, it’s very clear what the smart play is.
Around the green, Coore and Crenshaw give the golfers loads of options. Everything is cut very tight, so putting is always a choice. Whether it’s the right choice depends on your distance control and your ability to navigate a variety of tiers, swells, and mounds. If you have the nerve, you can take the ground game out of the picture with a wedge, but only the most precise shots will be rewarded.
In terms of difficulty, Streamsong Red has a split personality. The front nine gives you a warm welcome. From the Black tees (one up from the tips), it covers 3073 yards with three par 4’s under 350 yards and both par 3’s under 150 yards. You need to make your birdies there, because after the turn you’re faced with 3511 yards of potential bogeys. Only one par 4 is under 400 yards (the 384 yard 17th) and the massive 12th hole, also a par 4, is 472. The two par 5’s are on the short side – 508 and 505 – but neither is an easy birdie.
Overall, in terms of variety, playability, difficulty, and fun, Streamsong Red deserves its ranking as the #1 public course in Florida and one of the Top 100 courses in the US.
Though it’s still a relatively new property, Streamsong deserves a spot on every golfer’s bucket list. This is a golf retreat that is done right on every front – service, beauty, and spectacular golf. The only thing you’ll regret is that at some point you’ll have to leave.