The opening of Gil Hanse’s Streamsong Black course in 2017 has grown the resort’s reputation as a premier golf destination. The Black course’s massive blowout bunkers and jagged topography deliver golf on a parlous scale. It gives the Black Course an obvious contrast from the other courses on property.
An initial loop on the Black course will leave players with an array of emotions. Off the tee, players are faced with stunning and dramatic visuals that vary from walls of blowout bunkers to vast native areas. The visibility off the tee is constantly changing, a subtle challenge that makes it difficult to get comfortable despite the design’s abundant width. The green complexes stretch the boundaries of ‘standard’ putting surfaces. The massive greens are filled with subtle and bold contours that can make players of all skill levels feel bewildered.
The deceiving 2nd
After an opening par 5, players play up to a green that floats in the sky amongst the dunes. While it’s easy to get lost in the stunning landscape, the 361-yard par 4 is infused with timeless strategy as well.
The 2nd green sits on a diagonal, and given Streamsong’s firm conditions, a player must be wise off the tee to ensure a clean line to the green. Players face a counterintuitive choice where length might not be rewarded.
Players playing down Line A will challenge a fairway bunker flanked on the left side of the fairway, roughly 230 yards from the tee. With the fairway bending to the right, the firm conditions emphasize the need for distance control to gain the proper angle.
Line B tempts players to pull out driver so they can have a wedge in hand for the approach. While this line yields a far shorter approach, it looks straight into the massive blowout bunker and leaves very little room to hold a wedge on the green.
The key to the 2nd’s brilliance is the green. It rests at a 45-degree angle from left to right and is also one of the most contoured on the course. With a false left (back) edge, the green’s 27-yard width is severely reduced and as I learned, requires one of the best iron shots of the day to hold the surface. Options can vex players who miss the green to the left. Navigating the aggressive green-side contours can make saving par quite the challenge. As for a short miss into the blowout bunker… well… players will get their punishment.
The second hole at Streamsong’s Black course provides a stern test for skilled players while remaining playable for everyday golfers. It proposes an interesting dilemma for players, take the short approach from a poor angle or a longer one from a good one. I say take the angle but today’s conventional wisdom says always take the closer approach.