It was a gorgeous sunny Monday afternoon at Streamsong Resort for the Grand Opening of their latest (sure to be Top 100) layout – Gil Hanse’s Black Course. September 25th, 2017 was a day that many in the golf design, resort and media industry had circled on their calendars. It’s always an honor to get the invite to events such as this and when Streamsong and Kemper Sports team up to host an celebration of this magnitude, you know it’ll be a day to remember.
In the coming days we’ll give a detailed hole by hole description of Gil Hanse’s new creation in it’s entirety, but in this post it’s all about giving you the experience of being on hand for the Grand Opening.
This was the official itinerary for the day. I was fortunate to be in group 1b with Streamsong Director of Golf Scott Wilson, Golfweek’s resident course architecture expert Bradley Klein and PGA Magazine’s Ryan Adams. Group 1a was Course Designer Gil Hanse, Mosaic CFO and Streamsong visionary Rich Mack, Kemper Sports President Josh Lesnik, and Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella.
For me personally, it was 8 months of anticipation since I bumped into Mosaic’s Vice President of Land Development and Management – Tom Sunnarborg at January’s PGA Show in Orlando. When we discussed the opening of Streamsong Black back then, Tom just flashed that big smile of his and said, “The grand opening will be in late September, and You won’t be disappointed”. Five and a half years ago it was Sunnarborg that gave me a site tour of the Red & Blue courses during the grow in period, so he was pretty confident that I’d appreciate what Gil Hanse & Jim Wagner had created with the resort’s third course. The resort can now stake claim to being the only destination on earth with Doak, Coore/Crenshaw, and Gil Hanse designs in one location.
Gil Hanse spoke genuinely about how this project meant so much to him and his design partner Jim Wagner. He described the joy of getting the opportunity to work with an untouched parcel of land of the scale and sand component that’s an architects dream. Hanse became emotional as he expressed how appreciative he was to Rich Mack and Mosaic (who is the parent company of Streamsong) for including Jim’s name on the clubhouse plaque (pictured above).
He went on to thank everyone involved with the project and gave special thanks to Streamsong Director of Agronomy Rusty Mercer and his staff. Gotta love when the guys who do much of the heavy lifting day to day get a round of applause.
Rich Mack, Mosaic’s visionary behind what we now know as Streamsong Resort, and Black Course designer Gil Hanse cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening of ceremony.
Award winning architect Alberto Alfonso, who created the design for Streamsong’s original resort lodge and clubhouse, crafted another gem just a mile down the road from the mothership. Sleek, elegant and simple in both it’s style and function, the clubhouse at the Black is unlike any I’ve seen at a golf facility. As you play the course, it’s low profile and streamlined profile look so brilliant on the horizon.
As group of nearly 100 or so golf media and other dignitaries within the industry, we teed of at 1:30 pm after a warm welcome of food, drinks and the opening ceremony. As I stated earlier, being in group 1(b) was a fortunate draw that also may have allowed me to have the best caddie in the house – Brian Wilson. B.W was spot on with reads and club selections all round long, but more importantly was pleasant and invested in my experience. We had absolute chamber of commerce conditions for an event in central Florida in late September – mid 80’s and sunny with a enough of breeze to make the walk enjoyable and club selection a bit of a challenge at times.
Is there anything better than walking a brand new (sure to be top 100) golf course with really great people and having your sticks looped by an upbeat and skilled caddie? The course was everything Hanse said it was, big, bold and fun. I’ll get into more specifics and details in the upcoming course review. The group did all they could to help me triumph in my beverage wager with Matt Ginella who said “Game On” walking off the eleventh tee at +1 when he heard I was even par. But nobody could keep me from faltering coming in, including three putts at the 13th and 17th.
Then after the best knock of the day on the 530 yard finale, all we had left was 208 (and the only thought was about trying to make 3 and getting back to level par) but the 4 iron approach got a little too much of the big ball before the dimpled one and plunged into the ravine that fronts the most dramatic finisher at the resort. The only double of the day was the result. As I caught up with Matty G in the Bone Valley Tavern afterwards he confessed that he also misplayed the 18th and finished at same score (+4) for the round. A rematch will have to be in order for sure – perhaps a home and home with Winter Park 9/ Palm Beach Par3 . . .
Some images from the new Black Course:
As far as new course openings go, this was about as grand an event as you could imagine. Head Golf Professional Scott Wilson was the perfect host, as were all of the fine folks at Streamsong and Kemper Sports.
As far as the Black Course is concerned, if you like hitting lots of fairways and enjoy having a variety of different types of approach shots into large greens then the Black will thrill you. The challenge really begins once you reach the greens on Gil’s big and bold new design. These are truly some of the most fascinating putting surfaces you’ll ever encounter – an instant must play. It checked all the boxes of fun and challenging golf for me.
Oh and wait until you see the uber Punchbowl ninth green! It’s Raynor on steroids . . .
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Black is destined to be an instant Top 100 ranked course.
The gun metal gray Streamsong logo (pictured right) is affixed to the clubhouse wall that faces The Gauntlet putting course.
As we enjoyed the delicious gourmet tavern selections after the round in the clubhouse at Bone Valley, Scott Wilson being the class act he is, reminded me that we would’ve had a hell of a best ball score.
After thank-yous and goodbyes were said, I headed for the valet station just as the sun was vanishing on the horizon. As I looked back at everyone inside the clubhouse having a great time celebrating this fabulous new place, I thought about the tens of thousands that will do the same in years and decades to come.
I couldn’t help but think about Rich Mack’s vision to turn this old phosphate mining property in the middle of nowhere into the destination it has become today. Just remarkable.
With a long winding road ahead, there was nothing left but to hit the road, so . . .
I rolled on as the sky drew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine
Yeah, runnin down a dream . . .
R.I.P Tom Petty
For more information on Streamsong Black: http://www.streamsongresort.com/