Hopefully everyone has enjoyed watching golf’s return to the Olympics, I know that I have. During the past few months, people have debated the need for Golf in the Olympics but I happen to think it’s critical to the success of growing the game globally. However, no matter how you feel about Olympic golf, everyone seems to agree that Gil Hanse did a masterful job in designing and building the Olympic Golf Course in Rio. Hanse’s team was given a plot of land that can best be described as a sandy marsh and had no problem transforming that sandy earth and shrubs into a course more than worthy of hosting golf’s return to the Olympics. After completing work on the Olympic course, Hanse decided to play in a much larger sandbox, and we mean that literally. Hanse is currently completing work on a new course at Streamsong Resort which happens to be located on 16,000 acres of old phosphate mining land. What’s left of the land after all the phosphate has been mined out? An oasis of sand.
The new course being built at Streamsong has already been named, Streamsong Black. The name follows the color standard that was established with Streamsong Red and Blue. Streamsong Black will be the 3rd course at Streamsong, and is currently on schedule to open in the Fall of 2017. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a large course featuring five par-5s, and an unusual par-73 layout. There are two par-5s on the front nine and three par-5s on the back nine, all with sizable differences in length. Streamsong Black is being built due south of the current clubhouse that serves both Streamsong Red and Blue. You can actually get a good glimpse of the soon to be front 9 of Streamsong Black from the 3rd and 4th holes of Streamsong Red. Even from a distance, you can tell a lot of progress has been made. In fact, most of the holes on Streamsong Black are already grassed, and some of the greens are actually being mowed.
In addition to the new golf course, a new clubhouse will open at the same time when Streamsong Black opens. The new clubhouse will be dedicated to Streamsong Black, however this clubhouse will not feature any guest rooms, you’ll want to book a room at the Streamsong Lodge or try to get one of the 16 rooms available at the existing clubhouse. If you’re heading up to Streamsong anytime soon you’ll notice the construction and the heavy equipment on the left as you make your way to the existing clubhouse. That heavy equipment is currently working on a new road called Glove Trail. This road will intersect with Dunes Pass Road and once the road is completed, guests will see a view of the clubhouse for Streamsong Black in the distance before they see the main clubhouse.
A few weeks ago we took a trip south to get a sneak peek of Streamsong Black and to try and pry as much information out of the staff as we could about Gil Hanse’s next sand castle. For starters, the course is going to cover significantly more area than either the Blue or Red course at Streamsong. While the exact acreage has not yet been measured, the staff at Streamsong simply refer to it as a “Big Ballpark”. Based on the expanded size of Streamsong Black my next question was around how would the large size impact walking the course. Both Streamsong Red and Blue have been designed with walking the course as the default, rest assured Streamsong Black is meant to be a walking course. The Streamsong staff explained the key to walkability is the distance between greens and tees, which was very carefully planned on Streamsong Black. The walks between greens and tees on this course are very simple and flow nicely, making Streamsong Black very walkable. The walking and cart policies on Streamsong Black will be the same as Streamsong Red and Streamsong Blue.
While the exact yardages for Streamsong Black have yet to be released, we did find out that the yardage from the back tees, as expected will be longer than both Streamsong Red and Blue. However, surprisingly enough from the front tees, it’s shorter than both. The teeing grounds on Streamsong Black are extremely large, which is going to provide a lot of flexibility in setting the length of the course, you might want to avoid a tough day competition at Streamsong Black. One major difference between the Black Course and Streamsong Red and Blue is going to be in the fairways. The fairways on Streamsong Red and Blue are 419 Bermuda Grass which superintendent Rusty Mercer has always found a way to play firm and fast has been switched out with Celebration Bermuda Grass because it will further enhance the firm and fast playing characteristics that are a core belief at Streamsong. Gil Hanse has been overseeing the growth and has commented that it’s growing in beautifully. In terms of the greens, Streamsong Black will have MiniVerde greens like those on Streamsong Red and Blue. The condition and speed of the greens at Streamsong have been exceptional, and should not be anything other than exceptional on Streamsong Black.
Personally, I can’t wait to get a taste of what Streamsong Black has to offer, in true Gil Hanse style, you’ll start off on a par 5 so you better show up prepared. In addition, you have to expect there will be plenty of holes that play Par 3 ½ and Par 4 ½ like we saw on the Olympic Course in Rio. One thing is for sure, Streamsong Black will elevate the experience at Streamsong to the next level. Taking Streamsong from two world class courses to three, and working with Gil Hanse on what will be his showcase property in terms of original golf course development in North America, is a very big deal. In finishing up with the staff at Streamsong, I asked them for one word to describe the new course, of course they ended up giving me three; powerful, striking, and gratifying. Streamsong Black, we’ll see you in the Fall of 2017!