Why Streamsong’s newest course, The Chain, will stand out among the growing list of short courses
Bandon Dunes has Bandon Preserve and Shorty’s. Pinehurst has the Cradle. Big Cedar Lodge has Top of the Rock and Mountain Top. Sand Valley has The Sand Box. Cobot Links has The Nest. Blackwolf Run has The Baths. You get the picture.
More and more top resorts around the country are adding elite-level short courses to their facilities, and soon Florida’s Streamsong will make its foray into the category when The Chain opens for business. Only this 18-hole, 3,000-yard Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design (the duo also created Streamsong Red) will not be your average short course mostly because of what it lacks: par.
With holes ranging from 90 to 275 yards, there will be no pars on the scorecard, creating what Streamsong director of sales and marketing, Craig Falanga, says is a perfect venue for match play.
“We really want it to be something that you’re not thinking about what’s par on this hole,” Falanga said. “It’s really intended to be a place to have a lot of fun.”
In that regard, each group, or even each player, will be able to choose where to tee off from on a given hole, as there won’t be tee markers either.
This was inspired, Falanga said, when he and Ben Pratt, Streamsong owner Mosiac’s VP of public affairs, were playing a 9-hole course which intended for whoever won the previous hole to decide where the group would tee off from on the next hole.
“Everything that drove all the other decisions was, ‘Let’s make it as fun as possible,'” Pratt told GOLF.com. “And that so what we ended up with there is we’re not going to have tee markers in any given place. No concept of par will encourage people to play almost the way you would play a game of horse in basketball. You know? You if you win the hole, you pick where you tee off from the next hole.”
There will be areas defined as teeing grounds in multiple spots on each hole, marked with huge chains, similar to the ones found on the site next to the Lodge at Streamsong, which inspired the name of the course. Streamsong is built on the site of one of Mosiac’s former phosphate mines, the remnants creating the sand dunes there today.
The resort decided its fourth course would be shorter than its others when it realized its peak winter season is when daylight hours are shortest and people still want to play 36 holes a day while on property.
“We have a lot of visitors in the winter months who come from the Northeast who can’t really get in a whole round of golf on the day they travel,” Pratt said, adding the course will take about two hours to play 18 holes. “We think it’ll be very appealing to people who check-in, want to get a little golf in that day, or for their getaway day.”
Making that task even easier is that the resort will offer three rates: 6, 12 and 18 holes. The first loop will feature shorter holes, ranging from 90 to 148 yards on the side of the property closer to the lodge. A new bridge will be constructed to cross the small lake next to the lodge, allowing easier access.
Perhaps the signature of the short loop is the 4th, which features a tee shot over an old mine-cut pond to a slightly elevated green. Of course, there’s also a teeing area to the left, avoiding the shot over the water, or a ball could theoretically be putted around the pond.
The 12-hole loop is intended to be more challenging to the avid golfer but still be just as fun as the other six. The 11th hole (of the 18-hole course) features another daunting tee shot over a mine-cut, but this time with no opportunity to putt around the water.
This is where The Chain stands out again from other short courses. A new bridge will be built over the water, and Falanga said the goal will be to leave fishing poles on it in case players want to take a break and cast a line.
“If they want to fish, just let the group behind you play through,” he said. “But the only way you’ll be able to go fishing out there is if you’re playing The Chain.”
Also included on the roughly 100-acre site will be the resort’s second putting course, the Bucket. Although it’s really the second and third 18-hole putting courses because The Bucket will be big enough for two courses and each will be separated from the other by an enormous excavator bucket built into the green. This is another homage to the site’s history as a phosphate mine.
The Bucket will be free of charge and dwarf the existing Gauntlet putting course at Streamsong Black. It will also be convenient for guests staying at the lodge, as both The Chain and The Bucket will be the first two golf experiences (besides the lake’s floating green) available at that part of the resort.
The resort hasn’t yet set rates for The Chain, but Falanga suggested the resort would take tee times for groups to play all 18 holes and allow walk-ups for groups who want to play just the 6- or 12-hole loops.
For now, the design is still in the permitting process and determining which spots on the site are protected wetlands. Pratt said they are hoping for a fall 2023 opening, but could be a spring or fall ’24 opening depending on the permitting process and Coore and Crenshaw’s availability.