Rater's notebook: Streamsong, Blue Course
Sunday, February 9, 2014
• Designer: Tom Doak
• Par 72, 7,176 yards (74.1 rating/131 slope)
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 7
Doak’s layout occupies much of the middle ground of Streamsong, and then crosses over the Red Course for a five-hole loop (Nos. 8-12) along some wooded property. This creates a mild disjuncture that undercuts some of the coherence and integrity of the respective courses and makes them harder to distinguish.
2. Quality of feature shaping: 9
When you look at the uncleared areas and see how rough they look, you marvel, by contrast, at the elegant native contours that became part of the course. It’s hard throughout to distinguish between good shaping work and good routing. The bunkers here are more defined and contained than on the Red.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 8
Course sets off with a bang, 70 feet above the fairway on a seductively short par 4, so that you’re looking down into the clubhouse as well as down the length of the opening and closing holes.
4. Interest of greens and chipping contours: 8
The interior contours are bolder than on the Red Course, with lots of room around and back for playful recovery that’s not punitive. Both courses deserve praise for how their respect for the ground game entails bailout behind, and on the sides at times, not just up front.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 10
An amazing gamut, with the shortest, the 157-yard fifth, a domed surface 74 yards long and pinched wildly by sand. The most photogenic of all Streamsong holes is the panoramic 203-yard seventh, downhill across one of those scruffy-edged ponds to a green that’s nestled in a large dunes blowout.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 8
Great use of angles, all the more difficult to judge because of the vast open space of so many holes and the width provided on the safer, longer side. It’s as if the freedom to indulge in three very short par 4s releases Doak and his design team to get bold and aggressive on the handful of much longer, more demanding ones.
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 7
At least half the strategy on these holes is made possible by green shapes and positioning where play varies day to day. Two of the coolest shots on the back nine come on par 5s: the diagonal tee shot tempting a pond on the 14th; and the second-shot decision about carrying a huge, well-bunkered rise 100 yards in front of the 17th green.
8. Basic conditioning: 8
The firm, fast turf makes yardage here play short and brings ground-game elements to the fore; that especially will be the case for winter golfers playing a course that will go dormant and won’t be overseeded. It will be a great experiment for the Florida resort trade if, as hoped, Streamsong guests embrace tawny, off-color golf.
9. Landscape and tree management: 7
The occasional stand of live oaks and wax myrtle creates some welcome textural variety on the Blue Course.
10. “Walk in the park” test: 8
There are a few switchbacks and long crossings, but it’s still a fascinating stroll on moonscape/landscape that has been tamed (partially) for compelling golf.
It doesn’t feel like anything you’ve seen before in Florida; more like a course from another planet in another era. A strong top-100 contender.