Part two of the Pocahontas themed review of Streamsong Golf Resort! If you’re just seeing this for the first time, I suggest you go back to part 1 and read that first so you can read about the Red course and how we spent the morning at Streamsong. With that being said, I’m going to just jump right into talking about the Blue course, the differences between Blue and Red, and then a bunch of pictures and descriptions of the holes out there!
Part two of the review of Streamsong, this time Blue. Yes that sentence was meant to rhyme, and yes the course costs more than twenty thousand dimes, but when you have time, climb the hill to the Blue’s first tee, hit your drive and hit your approach shots carefully.
the Blue Course
We weren’t sure if we’d be able to play the Blue course in the afternoon after the Red due to the early sunset in March and how many groups had been teeing off that whole day. We checked with the guys at the pro shop who said we were pretty much free to hit the course when we were ready, but weren’t able to confirm we’d be able to finish before dark. After thinking about it, Mike and I headed out to the Blue course around 2:15 that afternoon.
There are two main differences between the Red course and the Blue course.
First, where the Red course had obstacles on the “safe” side of doglegs, the Blue course has wide open fairways. Thinking back, there are so few holes I can remember that literally don’t have fairways wide enough to catch every drive no matter how off center you hit it.
I’d like to expand a little on this type of design. There’s actually a reason for this style of course – it forces golfers to strategize about where to hit each tee shot, as opposed to holes that are straightforward (pun intended). Furthermore, the wide open nature of this style gives poor players a chance to keep the ball in play. This applies to both fairways and greens. There were plenty of times where I drove the ball too far to the wrong spot on the fairway that I wasn’t going to be able to get the ball close to the pins.
This whole explanation is summarized more succinctly by a quote from the famous Alister MacKenzie, most likely about Augusta National (MacKenzie designed, Jones owned).
We wanted the fairways to be wide so that every class of player could find a way to navigate each hole. The good player should be able to create an attractive angle for his approach with a drive into the correct spot. And the lesser player should be able to easily achieve a bogey without any undue stress.
This is exactly what I saw going on at the Blue course in terms of fairways — tons of holes with giant fairways that I was able to hit with crappy drives, but often made it incredibly tough to get the second shot close to the pin even if I was striking the ball perfectly. The Red had some holes like that as well, but the fairways were never close to as big as Blue’s.
Second difference between the courses is how the Blue course’s greens differ from the Red’s. Blue greens were much more of a classic, somewhat circular look, but with slopes and dropoff areas that make it tough to get the ball close, bringing three putts into play, while I mentioned in part 1 that the Red course had a bunch of giant and multi part greens.
Also speaking of MacKenzie quotes, here’s one about how long it takes to play golf.
Golf courses are becoming far too long. Twenty years ago we played three rounds of golf a day and considered we had taken an interminably long time if we took more than two hours to play a round. Today it not infrequently takes over three hours.
I have no issues with course length cause I like them being longer since I’m lucky enough to hit it pretty long, but give me those two hour rounds!
Time for course description and pictures. Again, if you want more pictures only slightly more pretty, look at the hole by hole tour on Streamsong’s website.
The first hole is a drivable par 4. From the tee box, you had a great view of a bunch of different holes on each course as well as the clubhouse.
Hole 2 is a par 5 with a mini fairway that requires careful consideration. Due to how downwind it was when we played, I hit two 3 irons to get it near the green. Both holes 1 and 2 had plenty of safe room near the green, but it was difficult to get up and down which left me with pars on both.
Holes 3 and 4 are both similar, uphill dogleg lefts with water to the left side of the fairways. Here’s the tee shot on 4, with bunkers on the safe side of the fairway that are ridiculously far to the right making the fairway really large, as discussed earlier.
And here’s what the approach to that green looks like. Being uphill and having a hidden view of the green are two things that make close approaches difficult.
Moving onto the 6th hole, another another drivable par 4 with the widest open fairway I’ve ever seen on a drivable par 4. This hole basically becomes a par 3.5 in a tournament setting. On the tee, you’re excited for a chance to make birdie, and should retire from golf permanently if you don’t. (Joke.) Having that mindset is key if you’re looking to score well.
For the third time in six holes, I found myself under 50 yards from the pin, but the greens were difficult enough that I couldn’t get up and down for birdie on any of them.
Moving on, it’s time for what I’ll call the signature hole on this course, one that I had seen plenty of pictures of in advance. This is number 7, a long downhill par three over one of the lakes. Also, you can see behind and to the left of this green the 16th green of the Red course.
Below is the approach to the 8th hole – the drive on this hole had a super wide fairway that made the hole look like a par 5, but I realized I was wrong when I had only 150 yards in after my drive. Again, this is an awesome green with a somewhat normal look that’s still difficult to get it close. Wide fairway, tough green.
Moving to number 12. It isn’t the longest hole at only 408, but the little lake shown in front of the green makes you think about what you want to hit off the tee rather than just ripping driver.
Now I stupidly didn’t take a picture of the 13th hole, but want to make a comment about it. It’s a drivable par 4 like the 6th hole that I talked about above, but instead of being easy like the 6th, this hole is the classic difficult drivable par 4. The fairway is basically like a triangle where it’s wide when laying up, but keeps getting narrower and narrower the closer you get to the green. Sure you can hit driver off the tee, but it’s very tough hitting the green with a giant bunker to the left, and upper level bunkers on the right. You can only hit the green if you are able to roll your ball through a 10 yard wide gap. The green is also raised and so far away from those bunkers, making getting up and down difficult. That’s the classic drivable par 4, a hole where you need to think about playing the hole in so many different ways.
Check the 15th hole here, a great example of large fairways, but needing the correct angle to get it close to the pin. This is the tee shot with Mike walking in front of me, and look at how much room there is to the left. Crazy amount.
I however hit it too far to the right into the waste area, and the approach shot look is below. If you look closely at the pic, you can see the pin straight ahead. But look to the right of that and you’ll see a hill there. My angle, which is too far to the right doesn’t bring the hill into play. But if you play safe to the left fairway, that’ll be guarding the green and you’re sure to get bounces off of that thing if you don’t land the ball perfectly.
When we got the 16 hole, the darkness was finally starting to come in and actually affect our ability to see our shots. 16 is a super long hole at ~240 yards, but has a large green that makes you pretty much just want to hit it near the green and get up and down, which I was able to do as a sandy. And the view while walking from the tee to the green was beautiful with the setting sun behind the green.
By the time we got to the par 5 17th, darkness was really coming forced us to just hit the ball and hope we could tell where it went by our swings. Same story on 18, where we whacked it and then looked in the dark. We were barely able to finish before pitch black, but considering the replay rate and having a blast out there, definitely a good idea for us to play that round.
Time for the Black course review.
the Black course
Jklolling, the Black course isn’t open until the fall. Couldn’t play, but we were able to see a few holes from the 3rd and 4th holes of the Red course. Streamsong’s website has some pics though and it definitely looks like it will be worth another trip.
On the car ride back to our AirBnB, Mike and I talked a lot about the differences of the courses, which one we liked better, and which one we’d rather play if we had to pick. I wasn’t exactly sure about that answer at the time, but now having talked about all the holes and looked at all the pictures I have an answer.
If I was going to play another course today, I’d pick the Red for the main reason that it’s more difficult off the tee. I love difficult courses.
There’s another MacKenzie quote that says courses that are simple to move around are better than more difficult courses, which is the main difference I think between Red and Blue. But for me, I like playing the difficult courses. Back when I was playing in college, I’d play simple courses and not have the correct mindset to make birdies and shoot low scores. I was happy when I had simple pars instead of getting up and down for birdies, which is exactly what happened on three of the first six holes on the Blue course. My best tournaments came on difficult courses where my mindset was to concentrate on making pars.
Besides tournaments with tough courses, I like playing tougher courses for practice. I want to have the pressure for hitting good shots as practice instead of me just trying to swing as hard as I can on the wide open holes like was the case on the Blue course. Playing tougher courses for practice makes tournament courses easier to play.
Thinking back overall for the Blue course, every hole is unique and none are forgettable, but there aren’t any that I initially think are too crazy like some on the Red. On the Blue, there are no holes like the 16 at the Red that cause me to complain about how tricky the hole is. So, if I had to pick a course as the only course I could play ever again, I’d pick the Blue.
The land is pretty and similar on both the courses, but the design seems to be different enough that if you had to distinguish between the courses based on images of a hole, there’d be a 85% changes you’d get the course right.
One of the greatest thing about Streamsong also is how this fall, the three courses there will be designed by the top 3 modern architects in my opinion. Gil Hanse is the designer for the Black course, and ever since his Olympic course in Rio was played, he definitely bumped up from the second level of designers to the top level. Being able to go to one place and play courses by each of those designers is something that everyone has to do.