Source: Metropolitan Golf Association
By Greg Midland
The par-4 first hole on Streamsong’s Blue Course.ELMSFORD, N.Y. (October 12, 2012) – Golf is a huge part of Florida’s economy and identity. No other U.S. state has more courses or benefits more from Met Area golfers wanting to escape the cold during the winter. While the state has a bumper crop of quality resorts, there is one scheduled to open this December that has already created a buzz: Streamsong, whose two 18-hole courses are unlike anything else in Florida.
I was recently invited to Streamsong for a sneak preview and was among the first few people to play both courses. It was a thrill to play without seeing any previous divots or ball marks, but this pleasure quickly takes a back seat to the surrounding dunescape, which ranks among the most dramatic and visually stimulating anywhere. Best of all, these courses fully embrace the land and embody the game’s newest and most admirable trends: firm, fast and fun.
What sets Streamsong apart? Its golf course architects, most importantly. The 7,164-yard, par-72 Blue Course was designed by Stamford, Connecticut native Tom Doak, who started writing about golf courses nearly 30 years ago and now, at 51, is one of the most respected and sought-after architects in the world. The companion Red Course (7,089 yards, par 72) was done by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who designed Friar’s Head and East Hampton Golf Club on Long Island, among many others. The amazing thing about Streamsong, however, is that these architecture teams worked largely in tandem to route 36 holes over the roughly 16,000 acres of land they had to choose from. In the highly competitive world of golf course architecture, that kind of collaboration is rare.
“Bill [Coore] and I went down at the same time and put our minds together, instead of drawing a line on a map and saying you stay on one side and I stay on the other,” said Doak in an exclusive interview with The Met Golfer. “Bill and I have known each other for a long time, but if it had been two other architects, they might have been more territorial.”
It’s clear from the first glimpse of the site why the world’s best architects were clamoring for this job. Streamsong is roughly 55 miles east/southeast of Tampa — geographically it’s the middle of the state, but feels like the middle of nowhere (in a good way). It sits in an area of rural Polk County dotted with lakes, farms, and infrastructure supporting the region’s number-one industry: phosphate mining.
It is these mines, or rather the land that used to serve as mines, that form the basis of Streamsong’s existence. The organic remnants of the mining operations resulted in tens of thousands of dunes — “sand piles,” as they’re called here — which for years have shifted with the winds and sprouted grasses and vegetation. The result is a playing environment that, while not “natural” in the traditional sense of the word, is also not an artificial creation of bulldozers and earthmovers.
The resort is being developed by the Mosaic Company, the world’s largest producer of agricultural phosphate products. Mosaic’s Vice President of Land Development and Management, Tom Sunnarborg, has overseen Streamsong’s development into what the company expects will be a world-class destination.
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