By Scott Kauffman:
After spending close to a decade assembling and permitting the land for Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, developer Mike Keiser selected KemperSports to be his development and management company partner. According to Keiser, it was a simple choice to pick the Northbrook, Ill.-based golf company for his special coastal Oregon golf assignment.
“No one shared my passion and understood my vision more than KemperSports,” said Keiser, whose first general manager when Bandon Dunes opened in 1999 is current KemperSports president Josh Lesnik.
Of course, the fellow Chicagoans proved to be the perfect partnership, as Bandon Dunes not only became an instant hit, but the Oregon course spawned a 21st-century golf course development renaissance for architecturally acclaimed destinations nationwide. Now, KemperSports is perfecting that same far-flung design formula in Florida at the ever-expanding Streamsong Resort, owned by fertilizer manufacturing giant, The Mosaic Company.
Situated between Orlando and Tampa in the middle-of-nowhere Bowling Green, Streamsong sits on 16,000 acres of striking topography shaped by decades of phosphate strip mining. But these days, the only fertilizer inputs at Streamsong are the ones being applied on the resort’s trio of nationally ranked courses – Streamsong Red, Streamsong Blue and Streamsong Black – and resort landscaping around the 216-room Lodge and 12-room Clubhouse.
Not to mention a future fourth course currently in permitting/pre-construction and being designed by the architectural team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. In some respects, Streamsong is Bandon’s East Coast twin brother.
And just like they did along an obscure Oregon coastline, noted architect Tom Doak and the Coore-Crenshaw duo helped put Bowling Green on the must-go-to golf map after their respective Streamsong Blue and Red courses debuted in 2013. Four years later, KemperSports opened Gil Hanse-designed Streamsong Black to rave reviews, highlighted again by Streamsong’s rare elevation changes and distinctive sandy dunes.
Streamsong’s yet-to-be-named fourth course, just a short walk from the Lodge, will be shorter than the three existing layouts, with early routings incorporating “user-friendly” six- and 12-hole loops spanning about 3,000 yards. Additionally, the new layout will have a large putting course that’s double the size of the two-acre Gauntlet next to Streamsong Black, according to Falanga.
The course winds through centuries-old moss-draped native oaks, banks of Little Payne Creek and some memorable mine cuts. The layout is being designed as a walking course without specified tee markers or a score relative to par. Early routings on the roughly 100-acre site include holes ranging from 70 to nearly 300 yards.
Coore is thrilled about his latest sand-based section of rolling land, saying, “The site for the short course is dramatically gifted for golf; and although smaller in scale and different in character from 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.”
“I think it was Mike Keiser who said one golf course is a curiosity or hobby; two courses are a destination,” said Streamsong Resort director of sales and marketing and longtime KemperSports senior manager Craig Falanga, whose company is in the second year of now overseeing the entire Streamsong resort operations. “(The Mosaic Company) knew that to get people out here on a consistent and ongoing basis they needed at least two courses. …. They also knew they had a fantastic piece of property with this incredible elevation change that was not only totally new and unique to Florida, but something you couldn’t really get anywhere else in the Eastern U.S.
“And they were very adamant about hiring the hottest or best architects who had a résumé that showed they knew how to build the type of courses that could be the most attractive for this type of environment.”
The formula was a familiar success yet again for KemperSports. And by one recent account, Streamsong had a $40.38 million impact last year through local and state taxes, vendor payments, and benefits and salaries associated with a workforce of 400-plus employees, including $4.9 million in caddie fees.
“We are thrilled to work with Bill and Ben on this new short course, and we are equally thrilled that Streamsong’s unprecedented success in 2021 allows us to fund the project with cash generated by the resort,” said Ben Pratt, Mosaic senior vice president of government and public affairs. “We are confident that this addition to the Streamsong portfolio will significantly enhance the resort’s value.”
“As we approach final designs, we are focused on creating fun and accessible golf that will rival its bigger siblings at Streamsong for quality of design and condition.”
In some respects, it might even make its big brother in Bandon raise an eyebrow or two.