A couple of days before the 2022 PGA Show in Orlando I got a call from Art Stricklin, CEO of The Art of Golf Travel, a highly respected Dallas-based golf travel company that escorts golfers around the world to some of the best courses on the planet.
Stricklin was brief. “Hey, you’re going to be playing Streamsong Black with me while I’m in town for the show.”
Before I could tell him I was playing like garbage lately and I might not be up to the task, he said the tee times had already been booked.
Stricklin went on to heap effusive praise on golf architect Gil Hanse and his masterful transformation of Central Florida terrain into a world class layout.
When Stricklin talks, I listen. He’s played just about every top course in the world from the Old Course and Royal County Down to Pebble Beach and Pine Valley. A long-time golf writer, Stricklin has a marvelous grasp of golf history and architecture so I value his opinion greatly.
Opened in 2017, Hanse describes The Black as “… a fun and strategic course to play.” With its rolls, mounds and sand ridges, The Black has been compared to the courses in Australia’s Sandbelt.
Expansive and bold, the 7,320-yard (from the tips), par 73 layout is routed through windswept terrain with modest elevation changes, gigantic bunkers, limited water and expansive greens. Click to view scorecard.
Streamsong Black is ranked #3 “Best You Can Play in Florida” by Golfweek, #34 “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest and #39 “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” by Golf Magazine.
“I love the creativity and massive scale Gil used on the Black course design.“ Stricklin says. “I really think you can make a 3 or 7 on almost any hole here and to me that’s what makes it a fun golf challenge.”
While I got a few sevens and not many threes, I thoroughly agree with him.
— It sounds cliche, but there are no two holes even remotely alike at the Black.
— There are super wide fairways on just about every hole and you’ll generally be in play. The wide fairways also help pace of play and certainly contribute to the playability of the course.
— The greens are massive and undulating with multiple tiers, plateaus and hollows and you’re encouraged (actually demanded) to hit to the correct landing area on the green. Streamsong has a great caddie program and if you’re playing the Black for the first time, I highly recommend taking a caddie.
— You’ll hit a wide variety of shots with uphill, downhill and flat lies as well as a few blind shots.
— It’s an excellent match play course with a superb group of par threes and driveable par fours (#2, #6 & #14).
— The bunkers are gargantuan and if you struggle in the sand like The Guru your score can really inflate quickly. Fortunately I didn’t need a calculator (almost) on a couple of holes where the beach was not my friend.
— There are seven different tee placements – 7,320 yds, 6,981 yds., 6,747 yds., 6,462 yds., 6,226 yds., 5,681 yds and 5,280 yds. I strongly suggest you play the correct tee for your skill level as it will make your overall golf experience much more enjoyable.
— If you’re lazy and don’t think through your shots and strategize, you’re simply not going to score well on The Black. A caddie can help considerably, but YOU still need to take your time and execute the correct shot.
— It’s a walking-only course. Carts are available to golfers who have limited mobility and a medical need for the golf cart. Medical documentation and advance notice is required.
Black Course Amenities
The sleek Black Clubhouse features a pro shop and the Bone Valley Tavern, which affords spectacular 360 degree views of the Black Course with its floor-to-ceiling windows. Other highlights include a 32-seat bar and multiple televisions.
Specializing in fresh seafood, the Bone Valley Tavern’s menu is dotted with choices like the Shrimp and Sausage Potato Chowder, Lobster BLT Sandwich, Tuna Nachos and Lobster Mac N Cheese to name a few. There’s also a good selection of burgers, wraps, wings and, of my my faves, steak & frites.
Other amenities at The Black Course complex include, The Gauntlet, a two-acre putting course and The Roundabout, a marvelous practice area that includes several green complexes and practice holes
Streamsong Resort is an 80 minute drive from Orlando, Florida and about an hour from Tampa. Set in Polk County near Fort Meade, Streamsong is 27 miles south of Lakeland. NOTE: When you drive to Streamsong, be aware, there is limited signage for the resort. To be sure, don’t look for any large billboards because there aren’t any. There are a couple of little road signs. Rest assured, it’s worth the drive.
If you’re lucky enough to play at Streamsong Resort, don’t miss playing the Black. It can be overlooked as golfers are mesmerized by the massive mounding and Scottish and Irish links ambiance of the Red & Blue courses. However, Gil Hanse’s masterful design is a phenomenal golf experience that should not be missed if at all possible.