These have not been heady times for the golf development industry. Even Ron Whitten, Golf Digest’s long-time Senior Editor / Architecture, threw in the towel in the December, 2010 issue, bemoaning the fact that the magazine’s annual survey of America’s best new courses was in abeyance.
“No point in producing top-10 lists like Best New Public and Best New Private when only 24 new courses opened in the last half of 2009, and just 18 more opened in 2010,” Whitten lamented.
He may want to stick around a couple more years to see what’s taking shape on a formerly mined phosphate site in central Florida.
The two hottest golf architecture firms in the business, Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design, broke ground earlier this year on a pair of distinctive yet intertwined courses at Streamsong Resort, a 16,000-acre project located between Tampa and Orlando. The developer is The Mosaic Company, a major producer of phosphate-based crop nutrients and one of Florida’s largest landowners. Honoring its commitment to land stewardship, the company has reclaimed many of its former mining areas for recreational or environmental uses.
Because of the sharp elevation changes and dramatic ground contours left behind by the mining operation at the Polk County parcel—Chambers Bay East, anyone?—both design firms expect their intersecting layouts to achieve world-class distinction. Each course will partake of rolling, sand-based terrain. Lakes created by the mining process will be integrated into the designs.
“This land is naturally conducive to uncovering great golf holes,” said Ben Crenshaw of Coore & Crenshaw. “It is going to be spectacular, and has its own inherent character that will translate into two memorable courses.”
“This is such a good piece of land for golf,” said Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design. “The variety of contours created by the mining process is unique for a project in Florida, or anywhere in the Southeast. I have been friends with Bill and Ben for many years, and it is great fun to be working right alongside them. I think (Streamsong) will bring out the best work in each of us.”
According to Bill Coore, “We have the opportunity to work with a site that contains some of the most unusual, interesting and dramatic land forms we have ever encountered. From its towering dunes, sandy fields and pristine lakes, we believe this land has the potential to yield two extraordinary golf courses. Being able to work alongside Tom Doak and our good friends at Renaissance Golf Design makes this a very special project indeed.
Construction of the two golf courses began in mid-2010; they are expected to be available for limited play in mid- to late-2012. The courses, as yet unnamed, will be accessible to resort guests. Streamsong will also offer a variety of programs to the public, including local and national golf memberships.
In addition to creating a 36-hole complex that will depart sharply from the Florida norm, Streamsong plans to build a golf clubhouse with meeting space, a pro shop and a casual dining restaurant. The main resort facility will have approximately 140 guest rooms with water views.1 Five separate villas will each feature four private guest rooms adjoining a common gathering area. The resort expects to welcome its first guests in fall, 2013.
Other amenities at Streamsong will include over 20,000 square feet of meeting space, two additional restaurants and two lounge areas, a full-service spa, hiking and biking on nature trails, birding tours, sporting clays, enrichment programs centered on the arts, retail shopping, and unparalleled largemouth bass fishing with guides, outfitters and boating equipment available at a lakefront complex.
But the real catch will be a unique pair of venues that most likely will form the basis of Whitten’s “Best New” feature in 2013.