Streamsong, Florida

Golfers in Sweden are already making plans for destinations to play winter golf. If Florida is under consideration, I’ve added a video overview to this piece we published earlier this year. Yes, it really is THAT spectacular…

As Unexpected as it is Unprecedented

“If familiarity breeds contempt, then non-familiarity breeds mystique. The more isolated you become, the more you buy into it. People going that far for golf focus only on the golf and leave their cellphones and e-mails behind. They’re also usually playing spectacular golf courses.”

That was Mike Hughes of the National Golf Course Owners Association. Hughes points out that remote and excellent golf courses golf courses are the movement in golf today. He cites the successes of golf courses like Bandon Dunes, Cabot Lakes and Barnbougle Dunes.

StreamsongA remote stretch of land between Tampa and Orlando changed every expectation about Florida golf. The Mosaic Company, a phosphate mining company and the design teams of Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore and Tom Doak did that.

The two design teams build of golf courses that reward strategic golf. Using holes of classic design, the design teams create golf courses with great artistry.

They shared visions at Bandon Dunes on Oregon’s Pacific coast and at Barnbougle in Tasmania. The press has given these courses exceptional rankings in the annual “best of” golf course polls. These courses share a similar philosophy but Coore/Crenshaw and Tom Doak never worked together.

The back story of the Streamsong Resort is almost as amazing as the golf course itself.

The owner is the Mosaic Company. They are the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate. The site for the Streamsong Resort is on land recovered by Mosaic from a former phosphate mine operation.

Mining phosphate disrupts the environment. Reclamation efforts developed over the past 30 years have been successful. Mosaic donates thousands of acres of reclaimed land to local governments. Many species of animals on land reclaimed for recreation parks and habitats for wildlife. Threatened animals and plants including the threatened scrub jay are returning. Much of this restoration is on Mosaic property.

Rick Mack is a Mosaic Vice President. Rick is also a golfer and thought the property in Florida would be ideal for a resort golf course. The property’s reclaimed sand would be a perfect base to establish fairways and greens. The native and man-made terrain would provide a spectacular stage for playing world class golf. His idea was so vivid he convinced a board of mining executives to share his vision.

“My goal is to give this property instant recognition,” said Mack. “It’s going to put you in a place that’s on par with some of the best destinations in the United States.”

The mining activities have created dramatic landforms that make for great golf holes. Streamsong’s site is unlike any other golf course in Florida.

“The property is conducive to uncovering great golf holes,” said Ben Crenshaw. “It is spectacular having its own inherent character that translated into two memorable courses.”

Tom Doak concurred, saying: “This is such a good piece of land for golf. The variety of contours created by the mining process is unique for a project in Florida, or anywhere in the Southeast.” Both teams have enjoyed the collaboration.

The former phosphate mine sits 20 miles from the nearest city, Lakeland. Both teams have enjoyed the collaboration.
That’s what the forward thinkers at The Mosaic Company hoped would happen on.

The former phosphate mine sits 20 miles from the nearest city. Lakeland is about halfway between Orlando and Tampa. Remote is an understatement for this remarkable golf site. The only sounds heard are the wind and the cutting machines. It’s a shock to the senses to play golf in this kind of peace and quiet.

The Streamsong site is 16,000 acres large. 4,000 acres is the initial size of the resort. Along with the golf courses are a clubhouse and a hotel with conference center, restaurant and retail area. Streamsong’s main resort building includes 140 guest rooms, bars, restaurants and a spa. For groups there are five four-bedroom villas. The clubhouse also offers 12 guest rooms, a steakhouse and bar along with a professional shop.

The golf designers use the available space with elevations, natural bunkering and water hazards. The walks from green to tee are not extreme, fairways are wide and accepting with mowed and irrigated rough. is Not only can you walk the courses , except for a few holes, you could play the course on the ground.

Site lines and backdrops are nothing less than dazzling. Massive dunes and elevations from the reclamation are jaw dropping.

There will be no memberships at Streamsong. It will only be a resort format, setting the bar of hospitality at the highest standards. Hosting competitions at Streamsong will not be a motivating factor. A refreshing change from the “Championship” yardage behemoths that are overtaking golf’s mindset.

There are questions about the remoteness of the location. Streamsong intends to make this an ideal retreat for vacationers and conference attendees alike. Streamsong offers a view of natural Florida not found at the high-rise coastal hotels and theme park resorts.

Streamsong also helps boost the local economy. It added hundreds of jobs during construction. There will be more than 200 permanent positions for the operating resort. Streamsong will generate extensive property and hotel bed taxes. The potential for future business and residential investments in the area are likely. This “multiplier effect” will boost the county’s tax base and tourist revenue.

The real significance of this project is what it may say about golf’s future. Streamsong is demonstrates how environmental sustainability and economic growth can work together.

For the many Swedish golfers who visit Florida every year to not put Streamsong on your list of places to play would be, in a sense, their loss. Luckily, you can start making your plans to visit now.