With Streamsong's announcement of a new short course, who's next on the tee?

Not every premier golf resort has a short course, but more than a few really need one.
Streamsong's new short course by Coore & Crenshaw will be steps from the resort lodging.

Streamsong is ready to add a new short course, an expansion sure to make Florida's best golf resort even better.

The resort, a popular 54-hole destination in rural central Florida, announced plans for its fourth 18-hole course, a unique shorter layout designed by Coore & Crenshaw that will be without tee markers or a set par. Ben Pratt, the senior vice president of government affairs for The Mosaic Company, which owns the resort, said in a press conference Wednesday at the PGA Show in Orlando that there's no timetable for when it will open. The course, which could be as long as 3,500 yards, has yet to be named. The news is a good way to celebrate the resort's 10th anniversary.

"We think of the site that we've defined for the short course, it's going to be incredibly dramatic," he said. "It's going to be great golf essentially built around the concept of fun. Just go have fun."

That Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are involved brings the whole short-course movement full circle. It was the 2012 opening of Bandon Preserve, their 13-hole par-3 course at Bandon Dunes, that inspired a tidal wave of short-course expansion at U.S. resorts that's still rolling a decade later.

Despite all this momentum for shorter, faster, more affordable golf, there are still other resorts yet to get on board with the trend. Not only are short courses good for golf groups trying to add a second round in a single day, they're potential incubators for young golfers and beginners if priced right. It's a goodwill play to build one as much as it is good for business.

Streamsong's plans

The new 18-hole short course will be steps from the 216-room Lodge at Streamsong.

Adding a short course seems like the perfect fit for Streamsong. It solves two problems: providing faster rounds for arrival/departure days or an option to play 36 after walking 18 holes in the morning.

With such a remote location roughly 90 minutes from either the Orlando or Tampa airports, Streamsong always had difficulty getting golfers to play on their arrival or departure day. There just wasn't enough time, especially during the peak season of winter when days are shorter. In an attempt to create options that took less time, Streamsong introduced afternoon six-hole loops on its original Blue and Red courses and even had Gil Hanse add a seven-hole, par-3 'Roundabout Course' within Streamsong Black's routing, but neither solution turned out to be ideal.

The short course fills that void. It will be steps from the Lodge accommodations. Golfers can check in (or out) and go. There will be six- and 12-hole loops available that can be played even quicker than the full 18. The 100 acres of land for the project is rugged, much like the other three courses, featuring gashes and elevated changes created from the years of mining on site, along with lakes, native oaks and Little Payne Creek.

The no-par concept will encourage Coore & Crenshaw to build large, flowing teeing grounds where golfers can pick how they want to play the hole. Depending on where you tee it up, a particular hole could be as short as 70 yards or stretch to 300 yards. It mimics what Architect Andy Staples did at PGA National Resort & Spa last year while redesigning the Squire Course into the new Match Course, another no-par routing meant specifically for match play with a flexible teeing system, ranging from 3,500 yards to 5,841 yards.

To get a sense of what the new short course might play like, go no further than C&C's Red Course, where the 147-yard eighth hole is among the hardest holes at the entire resort. Miss the green and you're in trouble. A new putting green, twice the size of the Gauntlet putting green at the Black, and a small clubhouse will give Streamsong's short course its own sense of place on the expansive property.

Going short at other golf resorts

Now that Streamsong's on board with going short, who's next?

It's kind of a tragedy that the majority of the world's largest golf resorts don't have a short course. I'm not sure that a Caribbean hotspot like Casa de Campo, stocked with 81 holes in the Dominican Republic, needs a short course, although it would be a nice asset if the locals and children could play at a major discount to grow the game.

It's the mega golf resorts in America that need to join the fray, especially in my old stomping grounds in northern Michigan. All the biggest resorts there - Shanty Creek (90 holes), Boyne Highlands (72), A-Ga-Ming (72), Garland (72) and Grand Traverse Resort & Spa (54) - would be wise to add one, if only to increase their appeal to families. Only Treetops has a world-class short course, the nine-hole Threetops, which hosted a par-3 shootout televised by ESPN in its heyday. Forest Dunes added a 10-hole short course, the Bootlegger, last year. Maybe that will inspire its local competition to follow suit. Early feedback from three very active GolfPass reviewers has been overwhelmingly positive. "I was blown away by how much fun I had," wrote 'hornedwoodchuck'.

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It's that kind of joy that many older traditional resorts need to inject into their golf product. Other destination resorts with at least 72 holes should consider going this route as well - Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in the Florida Panhandle, Omni Barton Creek in the Texas Hill Country; Innisbrook in Florida; Barefoot Resort & Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and La Quinta Resort & Club/PGA West in SoCal's Coachella Valley. For some places, like Trump National Doral Miami and Sea Pines Resort, it's just not feasible. Doral, surrounded by urban sprawl near the Miami airport, has no more land. Sea Pines, a 54-hole resort community on Hilton Head Island, S.C., would likely face environmental hurdles and the fact that the island is already highly (some might say overly) developed as well.

Keeping up with the Joneses is a real thing in the golf travel industry. It's probably in the best interest of iconic properties like Reynolds Lake Oconee (117 holes), Kiawah Island Golf Resort (90 holes) and Sea Island (54 holes) to consider adding short courses in the near future. All three are already great properties, but when their contemporaries (Pinehurst, The American Club, Pebble Beach Resorts, Big Cedar Lodge, Sand Valley, Cabot, etc.) have invested millions of dollars in the last five years to add or upgrade their short courses, the clock is ticking for someone to step up and make the next splashy announcement.

What golf resort would you like to see add a short course? Let us know in the comments below.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Commented on

what a great idea!

Commented on

I remember playing the Twin Brooks Golf Course at Hyannis, MA back in 2005 on our trip there. The only 18 holes all par 3 course I have ever played anywhere. Lovely layout, not in pristine condition at the time but really fun to play and some tough holes.

Hoping to play the par 3 (no tee) Horse course at the Prairie Club (Valentine, NE) in June on our trip to the US this year - its two main courses both very well reported.

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With Streamsong's announcement of a new short course, who's next on the tee?