Creating an encore to two of America's best new public courses isn't the easiest task. However, in the case of Streamsong Resort's Black course, the challenge for architect Gil Hanse and design partner Jim Wagner was not only enticing, but irresistible. "We understood that right over there," Hanse says, pointing across some dunes to the Coore/Crenshaw–designed Red course and Tom Doak–designed Blue course, "were great examples of golf architecture. The bar was set high. We just needed to make sure our course fit in with that."
Streamsong's four-year-old Red and Blue courses were carved into the sandy remains of old phosphate mines in central Florida. The resemblance to classic Irish links that wend through massive dunes and native vegetation is remarkable. Situated a mile southeast of the original courses, the Black differs significantly from the compact and dramatically undulating Red and Blue. It's a broader canvas, with landscape features far bigger in scale, including bold, Australian Sandbelt–style bunkering. At 7,331 yards, and with an extra par 5, the Black will be the most muscular test at Streamsong when it formally opens in late September.
And yet, it's the finesse holes here that stand out the most. The 450-yard, par-4 ninth is truly memorable. Measuring 375 yards for mortals, it calls for a blind approach over a ridge to an enormous punchbowl green. The idea for every class of player is to land the ball 20 yards short of the green, where it will funnel onto the putting surface. The joy comes from running up the hill to see where your ball wound up. Another wow moment arrives at the epic par-3 fifth, a 211-yard, uphill blast to a green menaced by a bunker the size of Montana. Then there's the 14th, a drivable par 4 that tempts with a line down the left side that's risky—but your only legitimate chance to reach the green.
"We didn't need to go out of our way to try to build something monumentally better," Hanse explains, acknowledging the kind of extraordinary company that Black keeps. But don't expect it to crawl before it can walk. Whispers have already begun that the Black just might be the best Streamsong course yet.