The Chain at Streamsong Resort

The Chain at Streamsong Resort is a new short course that embraces ‘alternative’ golf trends that features no tee markers, no par and 19 holes.


BOWLING GREEN, Florida – As short courses go, The Chain is already among the best I’ve ever played. But that should come as no surprise.

After all, it’s the newest course at Streamsong Resort, which has been enjoying rave reviews since its opening a little more than a decade ago. Much like Bandon Dunes, avid golfers make pilgrimages to this unique resort, which is located between Tampa and Orlando.

The Chain was designed by the same dynamic duo that crafted the Red Course at Streamsong – Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. They have a little experience in creating great short courses. Most notably, they built The Preserve at Bandon Dunes, which has magnificent Pacific Ocean views from all 13 holes. And they also did The Sand Box at Sand Valley in Wisconsin.

Hole No. 4 at The Chain can play anywhere between 80 and 142 yards depending on where players tee off.

The Chain, however, is different. It’s 19 holes when it fully opens in a few months. It’s technically not a par-3 course since there are no par designations on the scorecard. While most holes can be reached with a well-struck tee shot, the idea is that it’s just about getting around in as few strokes as possible. When I played it recently with Craig Falanga, the director of sales and marketing at Streamsong, we didn’t take any club longer than a 6-iron, even though the eighth hole can play longer than 260 yards. Driving the green there is possible for longer hitters — and a bit risky — but playing a 6-iron, wedge combination was plenty satisfying.

But why is this course so good besides the fact that it will be kept in tip-top shape? Like the other courses, it’s simply the creativity of the holes and how they fit into this unique landscape. This former phosphate mining site was transformed by Streamsong’s original owners and developers, Mosaic, into a resort that includes three championship courses — the aforementioned Red, the Tom Doak designed Blue Course, and Gil Hanse’s Black Course. There is also a putting course, multiple practice areas, an ultra-modern 228-room hotel, tennis courts, bass fishing, clubhouses, restaurants and bars. And now there’s a fantastic short course with holes that are interesting, challenging, and take advantage of the sandy soil for a links-like experience.

The Chain has a few forced carries over natural areas, but players can choose where to tee off.

“There are all sorts of holes that are very unusual of shorter length, and the really good players will really enjoy it.  And (they will) say this is not a ‘pitch and putt; there’s some really good golf here.’” said Crenshaw, the two-time Masters champ who has forged a great career in golf architecture following his Hall of Fame playing career. “We think it’s going to be a great amenity, and people will really enjoy it, too.”

“The Chain gets its name from the property’s dragline chains that were used during the mining operation back in the day. Those chains mark the teeing ground on each hole, which can be dozens of yards long. There are no tee markers. Instead, golfers can start holes from wherever they want on those teeing areas, perhaps being determined by the player who won the last hole in match or stroke play.

The 22,000-pound dragline bucket sits in the middle of the new two-acre putting course next to Streamsong’s Lodge. (Courtesy of Streamsong Resort)

When I played it, only 13 holes were open for preview play, though Craig and I walked the other six holes (which are holes 9-14 on the 19-hole scorecard). The way it’s laid out is there’s an initial six-hole loop that plays around a grove of oak tree with holes that range from 110 yards to 153 yards maximum length. The ensuing 13-hole loop has longer holes with some forced carries, a couple of them over water. In the middle of the course there’s also a 22,000-pound dragline bucket, which is what Streamsong’s two-and-a-half-acre putting course, The Bucket, is named. Both are located right next to the hotel, which is convenient obviously for hotel guests, and The Chain, unlike the other three courses, is only open to resort guests.

It took us less than two hours to get through the whole course, though I’m guessing had we played the six holes that won’t open until late spring, it would have been closer to three hours obviously. As I get older, the idea of three hours or less to play a round of golf has become more and more attractive.

But what The Chain represents is a unique golf experience that has few comparisons. It’s real golf in every sense, except you’re probably not hitting any drivers out there. The greens have lots of movement and there are imaginative bunkers around the green, so this is a great test of your iron, wedge, short game, and putting. If you play the other courses, The Chain is great preparation for them.  Or if you have a day on which you just play The Chain, that can be enough too. 


(Mike Bailey is a Travel Editor for Pro Golf Weekly. He can be reached at

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