Florida's big new sandbox: Streamsong Resort

By Brandon TuckerNovember 29, 2012, 9:05 pm

On December 21st, Streamsong Resort will unveil 36 holes of golf just south of Lakeland. Brandon Tucker has a sneak preview.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. -- The long upheld knock against the Florida golf scene is that too many courses resemble each other: largely flat with cookie cutter designs from the 1980s with an accompanying residential component. Golf course architect Tom Doak summed it up in his hold-no-punches book on course design, The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, published in 1996:

“I’ll take Seminole,' he wrote. 'You can have the other 999 [courses in Florida].”

This stigma, unfair as it is, is what makes the new Streamsong Resort such a big deal. At last, one of the country's most golf-saturated states has a 36-hole facility suitable to the new era of throwback golf course architecture. The facility features 18 holes from Doak and 18 from Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (technically, it's a 37-hole property if you count the 'settle-your-bets,' bonus hole next to the clubhouse).

Streamsong is the creation of Mosaic, a fertilizer company that mines all over Florida for phosphate. At their 16,000-acre property just south of Lakeland, their mining operations created a canvas unlike anything else in Florida: a massive sandbox, where machines tossed earth around for years and, unintentionally, left behind a terrain of humps and wetlands that rendered itself ideal for an extraordinary golf site. Virtually no development can be seen for miles around, just the frame of the future lodge. 

Sandy dunes tower high enough to resemble that of Ireland. One such formation near the clubhouse is the centerpiece for two of the property's most remarkable par 3s. On the dunes' left slope is the 16th hole of Coore-Crenshaw's Red Course: a brutish, 200-plus-yard shot played over water to a green over 50 yards long. On the other side is the 7th on Doak's Blue Course, which features a green tucked well below the dunes' shadow beside water:

Streamsong Par 3s

Side-by-side par 3s on the Red and Blue course (Photos by Brandon Tucker)

This isn't the first time Doak and Coore-Crenshaw have done work side-by-side. Coore-Crenshaw's Bandon Trails followed Doak's Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon. The firms also have tandem courses in Australia at Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm on the island of Tasmania.

At Streamsong (which like Bandon Dunes is managed by Kemper Sports), each firm's design philosophies and sites to build on are relatively similar to the eye on the first loop around: wide fairways with rippling contours, plus greens of all shapes and sizes. It's inevitable every golfer who tees it up here will find themselves in sand, whether its a small green-side pot bunker or the waste areas that surround fairways. Neither course employs much of any rough: either you're in the fairway or in bunkers or waste areas. On a few occasions, holes tip-toe along lakes, like the Red's gorgeous par-5 7th.

Streamsong No. 7

The par-5 7th hole on the Red Course hugs water on the left from tee-to-green (photo by Larry Lambrecht)

With many green sites rolling off right onto the next tee box, each layout was built to walk, ideally with a caddie (there isn't much signage out here and it can easy to lose your sense of direction), though carts are offered as well. But not everything about Streamsong exudes the British Isles. It's too hot in Florida to successfully grow fescue turf. Instead, the Red and Blue will rely on wide fairways seeded with Bermuda 419 and large, rolling greens with MiniVerde, while daily maintenance practice will strive for firm-and-fast. 

Also, just because the sandy dunes may remind you of Ireland, don't get overzealous ball-hocking around ponds; there's gators in these waters. 

Streamsong Resort: The details

Streamsong Lodge

An artist rendering of the main lodge at Streamsong, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. 

The clubhouse, which includes a restaurant and 12-room hotel will open on December 21st along with both golf courses. Green fees will range between $125-275 depending on season and time of day. The 216-room lodge, managed by Interstate Hotels, will open in the fall of 2013 and include a spa, multiple dining venues, conference space and off-course recreation like skeet shooting, tennis, birding and fishing.

Streamsong Resort is located about 25 miles south of Lakeland near Fort Meade in Polk County. From Orlando, it's a 90 minute drive and 60 minutes from Tampa International Airport.


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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”