It wasn’t particularly long ago, even within the last decade, that the business of golf appeared to be in trouble.
Golf courses were closing in record numbers, club manufacturers were downsizing or leaving the business entirely and a concerning percentage of avid golfers had already entered retirement.
Smack in the middle of this slowdown, in what seemed to be a bold commitment to a struggling sport, The Mosaic Co. announced grand plans in 2010 to build one of the largest golf resorts in the state of Florida, 22.4 miles from the nearest Publix grocery store. To make things even more perplexing, Mosaic wasn’t even in the golf business. It’s an international mining outfit, the single largest producer of phosphate and potash in the United States and a Fortune 500 company with billions in revenue.
“The designers were intrigued by the opportunity to utilize mined land and to work side by side on their two courses at Streamsong Resort,” said the property’s first news release in 2010. “A 16,000 acre project, the resort is located in southern Polk County, between Tampa and Orlando.”
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Locals wondered how Mosaic planned to attract the golfing elite into the middle of nowhere. But just a couple years later, Streamsong opened to nearly unanimous acclaim and immediate success.
Fast forward 13 years, and Streamsong Resort has grown into a behemoth. Just months after Mosaic sold the resort to a subsidiary of Chicago-based Kemper Sports Management for $160 million, the property’s fourth course is set to open Dec. 1 for full preview play.
“The Chain,” a non-traditional 19-hole short course by renowned designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, meanders through more of the resort’s terrain that hardly feels like central Florida.
Coore and Crenshaw’s Red course, one of the two courses that opened in 2013, has enjoyed continuous international acclaim. Ranked No. 21 in the 2023 ranking of America’s Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest and No. 19 in Golfweek’s similar publication, it’s no surprise that Coore and Crenshaw were tabbed again.
“Comprised of moss draped oaks, lakes, and sand-based landforms, the site for the short course is dramatically gifted for golf,” Coore said. “Although smaller in scale and different in character than the Blue, Black and Red courses, we believe the site has the potential to complement the amazing golf experiences that have made Streamsong one of our nation’s most highly acclaimed golf destinations.”
Just a short walk from the property’s opulent 228-room lodge, The Chain will not require a full bag of clubs, nor a full allotment of time, for a typical 18-hole round. Golfers will have the option of playing different “loops,” or groupings of holes. The price point will depend on time of year and amount of holes to be played, starting at $45 up to $129 during peak season.
The opening of The Chain comes at a time when non-traditional courses are finding success, taking advantage of a continued surge in popularity for the sport. Following the success of Bandon Preserve in Oregon and The Sand Box in Wisconsin, alsoCoore and Crenshaw designs, in addition to the popular Cradle course at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, The Chain gives resort guests a unique amenity that can be enjoyed by golfers of all levels of play.
The lack of tee markers provides flexibility and a match-play routing, where the winner of the previous hole decides which teeing ground to choose on the next hole. With massive teeing areas, holes can play as short as half pitches, while others can stretch to nearly 300 yards.
In the center of the first loop, a food truck aptly named The Bucket serves cheesesteak sliders, smoked kielbasa corndogs and cocktails fit for an afternoon with your buddies, regardless of whether you won that last hole or not.
Preview play on around half of the holes is currently open for resort guests, with the remainder planned for opening on Dec. 1. For more information, visit the resort’s website at https://www.streamsongresort.com/.