Review: Streamsong Resort – Red Course

Course Name: Streamsong Resort – Red Course

Designer: Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw (2012)

Location: Streamsong, Florida

History: Streamsong Resort is the brainchild of Mosaic Company, the world’s largest phosphate producer. Following in the footsteps of Kohler, Bandon Dunes, and other successful new golf resorts, Mosaic decided to build Streamsong on 16,000 acres of reclaimed phosphate mines in Central Florida. The Coore/Crenshaw designed Red Course opened alongside the Blue Course in 2012 after years of great anticipation. Interestingly, the Red and Blue courses were named based on the color pen Doak and Coore/Crenshaw used. In 2017, the Gil Hanse designed Black Course opened down the road, and plans are in motion for more courses in the near future. Accolades for Streamsong Red are lengthy and include:

  • #102 Best Course in America – Golf Digest (2017)
  • #47 Best Course in America – Golf Magazine (2017)
  • #35 Best Modern Course in America – Golfweek (2018)
  • #17 Best Public Course in America – Golf Digest (2017)
  • #10 Best Public Course in America – Golf Magazine (2017)
  • #4 Best Course in Florida – Golf Digest (2017)
  • #2 Best Public Course in Florida – Golf Magazine (2016)
  • #3 Best Public Course in Florida – Golfweek (2018)

Conditions: 9/10, The overall conditioning at Streamsong Resort is impeccable and the Red Course is no different. This course features wide, well-manicured fairways surrounded by sandy waste areas instead of rough. The Bermuda greens here roll true and fast at about a 12 on the stimpmeter.

Value: 7/10, The resort itself is expensive but daily fees at the courses are actually quite reasonable given the quality. Peak prices in the Winter season run at $255 for public golfers and $200 for Resort guests. Floridians also receive further discounts. Caddie fees are $90 per bag, and there are stay-and-play packages available as well.

Scorecard:

Tee                                 Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Green                            72           7148               74.1              137

Black                             72           6584              71.6              132

Combo                          72           6287               70.6              128

Silver                            72           6094               69.5              124

Gold                              72           5184               69.9              121

Hole Descriptions: We played Streamsong Red second and this was arguably the course I was most excited about. Why? The Red Course is generally considered the best course at the resort and this would be the first course I’ve played from the legendary duo of Coore & Crenshaw. After playing, Streamsong Red absolutely lived up to my lofty expectations.

When you think of Florida golf, you think of palm trees, alligators, and tight, water-lined holes. Streamsong is NOT your typical Florida golf. While you’ll still be accompanied by alligators, these courses are designed in a minimalist fashion, with natural mounds and bunkers seemingly rising out of the ground like volcanoes. The terrain is incredibly unique, and plays somewhat like a cross between Australian Sandbelt golf and Sand Hills/Ballyneal.

Where does the Red Course stand in relation to the other courses at Streamsong? In my opinion it’s the best course at Streamsong. While very similar to its sister Blue Course, the Red is more dramatic, featuring tighter fairways and many forced carries. In fact, Streamsong Red is the most demanding course tee-to-green at Streamsong, but don’t let that discourage you – the greens here are the easiest, and there are enough short holes that you can take advantage of. Like the other courses, the hole variety and routing here is phenomenal.

The opening hole is a monster of a par 4 at 464 yards and ranks up there as one of the strongest openers I’ve ever played. Requiring an immediate carry over about 50 yards of water, make sure to control your first tee nerves. Both sides of this wide fairway are lined with tall mounds of sandy dunes and frame the hole beautifully. Besides the water, the only other danger on the drive is a deep bunker with a tall lip 210 yards on the right. From the fairway, this hole runs uphill to a large back-to-front sloped green. For many golfers, this is a three-shot hole and there’s no shame at making a bogey here.

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The difficult par 4 opener

At 508 yards, the 2nd plays about as long as the opener but this time as a reachable par 5. This is a tremendous dogleg right that requires a carry over water of about 160 yards to reach the fairway. The further right you go, the more distance you have to cut off as water lines the right side as well. From the fairway, this is a relatively straightforward hole, with a large bunker down the left side and a deep bunker short right of the green. With a good drive, this is a scoring hole, as evidence by my tap-in birdie after reaching in two.

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The dramatic teeshot on the par 5 2nd
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Your approach on the par 5 2nd

The 3rd is another dramatic and difficult par 4. Playing 391 yards as a slender dogleg right, this is another intimidating teeshot, requiring a carry of at least 190 yards to reach the wide part of the fairway. The entire fairway slopes right, and a series of bunkers lines the entire right side. If you find one of these bunkers, however, you’ll be thankful they’re there, as the fairway drops off steeply into thick jungle beyond them. There’s a small bunker in the middle of this fairway about 20 yards short of this green that appears much closer to the green than it actually is. This green is very narrow and both sides of the green pinch into a middle collection area.

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The par 4 3rd is one of the more difficult holes at Streamsong Red

After a challenging opening set of holes, golfers get their first break with the short par 4 4th, one of two reachable par fours on the front 9. This hole begs you to rip driver with an extremely wide fairway that plays almost as a dual fairway considering a massive 50 yard long bunker is smack dab in the middle at 200 yards off the tee. This green is an interesting shallow kidney-bean shaped complex with a false front, and two deep bunkers directly in front. Like the 6th on the Blue Course, this green is framed beautifully by a giant sand mound in the background.

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The reachable par 4 4th is one of the easiest holes at Streamsong Red

The 5th hole is one of my favorite holes on the course, but I must admit that it feels too short from the Blacks (344 yards) and too long from the Greens (453 yards). With two reachable par fours on the front already, this hole seems like it would better be suited playing close to 400 yards. The hole itself is beautiful, with water lining the right side of a wide fairway. There’s more room to the left than it appears, and this side gives you a better approach angle anyway. This green is fairly undulating and features two deep bunkers on the right and two behemoth ones built into a sand dune behind.

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The par 4 5th from the teebox

The 6th is the first of an extremely impressive set of par threes. At 143 yards, this is a short hole with a gigantic green surrounded by bunkers and giant sand dunes. The teebox sets you up at a bit of an awkward angle, and there are some brutal pin positions like the one in the picture below. Set up on the far left portion of the green, this pin sits on a plateau that kicks everything right.

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The par 3 6th with the hardest pin position

After climbing a winding set of stairs, you reach the fantastic 521 yard 7th, the best par 5 at Streamsong Red and one of the best par fives you’ll play anywhere. Water lines the entire left side of this slight dogleg left and comes into play on all three shots. The right side is more open, but a bunker 230 yards on this side of the fairway is to be avoided. On the approach, you’ll want to stay out to the right, as giant bunkers come into play down the left. However, the approach is much more challenging the further you go right due a giant mound right of the green that blocks your view. Furthermore, this is one of the more challenging greens on the course.

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Even the stairs at Streamsong fit with the minimalist mentality
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The approach from the left side of the 7th

At only 119 yards, the par 3 8th is the shortest hole on the course but by no means easy. This hole requires a precise wedge to find this extremely narrow green that’s only 8 yards wide at certain points. Five bunkers surround this green and are popular destinations. I played well at Streamsong Red, but my double bogey here left a sour taste in my mouth.

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The short par 3 8th

On a course with several short par fours, the 9th is the shortest at only 271 yards. Driver is clearly the club of choice here, as the right side of this fairway contains a giant waste bunker for the first 200 yards. This elevated green is one of the most creative on the property with slopes from back-to-front and left-to-right. A dual bunker right in front of this green is an intimidating factor for those with a short pitch in. In a recent interview, Tom Doak called this his favorite hole on the Red Course. Additionally, the snack shack is found next to this teebox and specializes in BBQ.

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The reachable par 4 9th is a perfect contradiction to monstrous opener

The back 9 at Streamsong Red is a beast playing almost 500 yards longer than the front 9. This is immediately evident on the 431 yard par 4 10th. Requiring an uphill carry of 120 yards over a giant waste bunker, this hole is also the first hole to feature trees lining the fairway. This large green slopes from right-to-left into a giant shaved collection area on the left.

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The view from the 10th teebox

The 11th hole plays similarly as another long, uphill par 4. At 408 yards, this hole again features trees to the left and a minor carry over sand. This is one of the widest fairways on the course but like the 4th is split in two by two long bunkers in the middle starting at 215 yards. This long, narrow green complex is one of the most interesting at Streamsong Red and features shaved down areas on every side.

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The uphill 11th from the tee

After two difficult holes, the 12th is the longest par 4 on the course at a menacing 472 yards. This hole, however, does play significantly shorter downhill, downwind (on my day), and with a speed slot at about 280 yards. This is a picturesque dogleg left with a wide fairway that starts turning left at about 300 yards. The remaining fairway runs alongside water to the right and five bunkers guard the right side of this green.

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Walking down the 12th fairway

The 13th is a reachable 508 yard par 5 and undoubtedly one of the best scoring holes on the back 9. Playing as a less dramatic version of the Blue Course’s 14th, this hole runs slightly uphill with a short forced carry over water. This is another wide fairway with a bunker in the middle at 265 yards. Golfers are given ample room to lay-up on the right, but those going for the green in two will have to contend with a giant mound of bunkers that sits in front of the green and blocks your view completely. I made my third and final birdie of the day here.

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The par 5 13th – you can see the giant mound in the distance

I was a giant fan of the beautiful 166 yard par 3 14th. This hole plays level but a valley of sandy dunes covers the distance between you and the green. Speaking of the green, this green features two tiers, including a false front, and is surrounded on all four sides by deep bunkers.

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The par 3 14th suited my eye well

Although not as long as the 1st or 12th, the 453 yard par 4 15th is a beastly hole and certainly deserving of its number 1 handicap. Our caddie described this hole best: “It has a little bit of everything – giant, severe bunkers, a tricky green, a forced carry, and lots of length to traverse.” While the fairway is pretty wide, there is little margin for error, as a humungous, deep bunker lies in wait on the left starting at 220 yards. To make matters more difficult, this long hole plays steadily uphill and features an exceedingly narrow green. I made double bogey here, and imagine this hole dings many a scorecard.

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The fantastic (and challenging) par 4 15th

On a course with already so much drama and character, the 16th hole is the climax, and my favorite hole at all of Streamsong. This gem of a hole is a more severe version of the famous biarritz 9th hole at Yale and features a stunning carry of 140 yards to a nearly 75 yard narrow green with three tiers. Picking the right club here is essential, as this hole plays anywhere between 150 and 220 yards depending on the pin. Bunkers short, mounds to the right, and a collection area on the left complicate what’s already is a challenging hole.

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The spectacular 16th at Streamsong Red

After the excitement and drama at 15 and 16, the closing holes at Streamsong Red are a bit unremarkable with a medium-length par 4 and par 5. The 17th plays downhill at 384 yards with trees hugging the right and a humungous 160 yard long waste bunker also on the right side of the fairway. Outside of a cross-bunker at 285 yards, the left side is relatively open. This green is pretty flat and guarded by bunkers to the left and short right.

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The par 4 17th from the tee

The closing hole is an interesting one as a 505 yard par 5. Playing uphill as a slight dogleg left, this hole will be reachable for some. The danger on this drive is a large 100 yard long bunker that creeps into the left fairway. The lay-up here is fairly open, with several bunkers on the left and tons of room to the right. This green runs left-to-right and features a false front. I particularly liked the tall sand dunes that surround and frame this green.

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The uphill par 5 finishing hole
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All smiles after playing one of the world’s best

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 19th “Bye Hole” next to the clubhouse. Playing anywhere between 75 and 120 yards, this is a great hole in its own right requiring a carry over water and a bunker to reach the green. This hole is ideal for settling bets or challenging your caddie to a closest-to-the-pin. On a course defined by fun, this is a fitting ending.

IMG_4722The 19th hole at Streamsong Red and Blue

Best Par 3: 16th Hole, 184 yards, 7th handicap. Directly adjacent to the world-famous 7th at the Blue, the 16th is a ridiculously good par 3 as well and my favorite hole at all of Streamsong. This hole rivals the 9th at Yale for the best Biarritz in the World.

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A side view of the 16th green from the collection area

Best Par 4: 15th Hole, 453 yards, 1st handicap. The hardest hole on the course, this is a monstrous uphill par 4 with a forced carry, multiple strategic bunkers, and a long, undulating green. I want to talk about 1 bunker in particular – a giant one on the left side of the fairway that is borderline impossible to get out of and reminds me of Whistling Straits. The sheer enormity of this bunker must be demoralizing to those unfortunate to find it.

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I could only capture about half of this ridiculous bunker in a photo

Best Par 5: 7th Hole, 521 yards, 4th handicap. One of my favorite par fives I’ve played, the 7th keeps the golfer engaged and interested on every shot, with water down the left side, creative strategic bunkering, and a tricky green guarded by bunkers and mounds. Anything from eagle to double is possible on this gem of a hole.

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The par 5 7th from the tee

General Comments: The Red Course shares its practice facilities, clubhouse, and a restaurant (Restaurant Fifty-Nine) with the sister Blue Course. Over breakfast one day, we heard someone complaining about the driving range. While not the best range I’ve ever used, it’s absolutely sufficient and what you’d expect from a course like this. You have unlimited NXT Tours and enough space to rip driver, so I really don’t see what that person was talking about. The short game facilities are also fantastic, with a full chipping/sand facility next to the range and a large putting green near the clubhouse.

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The range at Streamsong Red and Blue

We played the week before Christmas and the resort was rather empty so we had the whole course to ourselves. Caddies are optional, but I recommend taking one, especially on your first round at each course. Thanks Craig!

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Like the resort, the clubhouse at Streamsong Red/Blue is a modern design

Verdict: Streamsong Red gets my vote for the best course at the phenomenal Streamsong Resort. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s genius shines throughout with some of the best hole variety and creativity I’ve ever experienced. This is a must-play for any golfer and one of the best public courses in the world, period. If you only have time for one course at Streamsong, this should be your pick.


5 thoughts on “Review: Streamsong Resort – Red Course

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