Streamsong Black is a beautifully ominous name evoking a sense of tranquil darkness or maybe gentle peril. The Streamsong name has been around many years now, and the previous two courses — Red and Blue — were named so simply because of the colour of pen used for their routing plans. But the Streamsong Black name, whether intentional or not, represents the feel of the course more precisely.
There is a barren gloominess about the layout. Wide swaths of bright white sand, large expanses of brownish green and a coolness the type affiliated with colour temperature are ever-present. From the modern minimalist designed clubhouse, that despite its black support beams should be viewed simply as one continuous window, all the way to the land, which is gentler and simpler than that found a mile down the road at the other two courses, Streamsong Black will sneak up on you in many ways.
The first way is with width.
Views across the course are vast contributing to a miniaturizing effect. Though the Black course is wide the eye is often tricked into believing it is more confining than it appears due to a long field of view. This inevitably serves many purposes most importantly strategic purpose. Golfers need to pick their spots and often these spots aren’t where you think they would be. The course requires you to learn its nuances and that is why taking a caddie can prove very beneficial.
Some would consider a resort course with a learning curve to be risky, but then not many resort courses have a strong walking or caddie culture. And even if you are the type to carry your own bag, the modern golf world needs a place to ignite the golfers imagination. These types of courses are more readily available in the world of private golf or overseas, but here in North America Streamsong is one of the few.
The second way Streamsong Black sneaks up on you is with its greens.
Make no mistake about it, the set here will be the most polarizing collection of green complexes in all of North America. From the gigantic punchbowl 9th to the comparably pint-sized 13th right side green (there are two greens at the 13th), the contours are less contours and more moguls in most places. At times you’ll feel you’re putting on a ski hill, others you won’t believe your eyes as your golf ball needs to start 30, 40, even 50 feet away from the hole.
And just because you’re not on the green doesn’t mean those undulations won’t extend outside of the green. In fact, many of the greens, which all together cover about 11 acres of land and average 11,000 square feet, have been extended further than originally designed — just consider them golf ball roller coaster rides with a non-existent height requirement.
The third way Streamsong Black will sneak up on you is with the ground game.
Take it as you will, but the ground game is, in this golfers opinion, the secret to success at Streamsong Black. 70-yards short of the green in the fairway? Bump and run it, or, better yet, putt it. In a waste bunker 20-yards from the green? Putt it. On the short side of a 50-yard long green with a bunker cutting into your line? Putt it. Call me crazy, but if you want to have fun and play well on Black learn to hit a really low bump and run or for goodness sake just reach for your putter.
The fourth way Streamsong Black will sneak up on you is with its variety.
Playing to a par of 73, golf course architect Gil Hanse spared no expense in the form of creativity and imagination to ensure every shot and every round on Black is not only different, but continuously fun and never boring. All the boxes have been checked: an extra par-5? Sure, there’s 5 of them. A drivable par-4? How about a couple. A collection of varying par-3s? Let’s go with a shorty at 133 yards, a long one at 211 yards uphill and everything in between.
But that’s not all, because Hanse decided to add the aforementioned dual greens at 13, the huge blind punchbowl at 9, double fairways at 4, an infinity green at 17, a do-or-die par-5 finisher at 18 and topped everything off with a windmill for guidance.
Oh, and lets not forget there’s also The Gauntlet — a two acre putting course if you needed just a bit more variety before or after your round has come to an end.
The fifth and final way Streamsong Black sneaks up on you is that you can play it in whatever sequence you’d like to play it.
It is a routing feature that has received little attention but one of the most genius. The Black course can be played in various configurations. How so you ask? Easy. In it for 18 holes? Start on the first. Maybe you want 7 holes? Tee off on the 12th. Only have time for four? Start on 1 and play 2, 10 and 11. Prefer 11 holes you say? Go 1 through 11. Nine holes is all you’re looking for? Go 1, 11 and 12-18. I think you get the point. And the best part is all these configurations begin and end at the clubhouse.
This sort of flexibility serves as future proofing. That and a great way to get a few extra holes in at the end of the day before sunset. Whether Streamsong is open to these alternate configurations we did not inquire, but we certainly hope they find a way to accommodate this built in flexibility which makes the Black courses routing that much more intriguing.
What Streamsong has in the Black course is one of the most unique golfing experiences to be found anywhere and yet another reason for golfers to flock back to the resort time and time again. Golf courses with this sort of intrigue are rare, especially among warm weather resort destination golf courses. It’s difficult to photograph courses as expansive as Black and photos would never do them justice anyway.
All that said, Streamsong Black will be a course that takes time to build a reputation. At inception, it will polarize golfers’ opinions. Some will love it, some not so much. But that’s what makes it so great. Because to learn is to live and to live is to learn. And at Streamsong Black every golfer, fan, skeptic, critic or hater will indeed feel alive.
And if you don’t, then head over to Blue or Red.
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