BOWLING GREEN, Florida – When it opened in 2012, Streamsong Resort was heralded as the next great golf destination in the U.S. High praise for a property, which despite having golf courses designed by Tom Doak and the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, didn’t register on some GPS tracking devices.
How difficult to find was it? People kiddingly referred to Streamsong Director of Agronomy Rusty Mercer as “Robinson Crusoe,’’ because since his arrival in 2010, he seemed like a man alone stranded on a vast ancient seabed of Central Florida phosphate.
Fast forward nine years, however, and Streamsong Resort is front and center as indeed one of the country’s great golf resorts, with the Gil Hanse-designed Black Course added to the original Blue (Doak) and Red (Coore and Crenshaw) layouts.
The Black Course, with Hanse’s minimalistic design and signature windmill on the front side, is the most significant addition to the resort in its short history. It’s certainly the most visible change. But over the past few months there have been more subtle changes and upgrades to Streamsong. For example, KemperSports this past Jan. 1 assumed control of the entire resort operation, whereas previously it managed only the golf operations.
KemperSports CEO Steve Skinner calls it “One Streamsong.’’
“We think (KemperSports management) will have a positive impact on customer in terms of (being) one team,’’ Skinner said. “We have a great team here – and people who have been here from the beginning. What we’re looking to do is focus intently on the golf customer and really make everything we do about the golf experience.’’
Resort staff members already are showing off that “One Streamsong,’’ unity by being clad in golf outfits.
The most significant change to the resort and its golf operations came this past October when the Red and Blue courses each re-opened with Mach 1 ultradwarf bermudagrass on their greens. With the new greens, Streamsong is now the first golf destination in the world to showcase Mach 1 on two, 18-hole layouts.
Developed by renowned golf course superintendent Rodney Lingle, Mach 1 has been recognized as one of the cleanest and purest turfs in the industry, with a super fine texture and smoothness that creates a high-quality putting surface. Mercer and his agronomy team spent months testing Mach 1 and other grasses before selecting Mach 1 for the Red and Blue courses thanks to its smoother ball roll and more uniform growth patterns in warm weather climates.
“It was probably the first time in my life that we’ve done something and had a unanimous opinion,’’ Mercer said of the Mach 1 selection. “The ball roll is absolutely spectacular, so we feel like we’re on the right track.’’
Perhaps the most interesting difference between the Mach 1 and the previous MiniVerde bermuda grass on the greens, is the difference in the amount of break in the putts.
“About half the break (with Mach 1) and that’s due to the lack of grain,’’ said Streamsong Director of Golf Scott Wilson said. “A putt that was maybe breaking two feet might be breaking one foot now. You just know the ball is rolling in that instance. It’s not skipping or chattering. It’s rolling end over end.’’
And now with the three golf courses open in 2021, Streamsong Resort is continuing on its roll as a top golf destination.