I’ve written pretty extensively about Streamsong, the ambitious new project located in central Florida, including a review in November and a second glance in January. In the meantime I’ve had the chance to spend a couple of hours on the phone with both Bill Coore and Tom Doak talking about the project. I’ve got so many quotes that I’ll never use that I thought it would be interesting to combine the quotes on certain subjects about the project. Note I interviewed Bill and Tom separately, but have combined their answers below.
G4G: What did you expect when you first heard from the consultant working for Mosaic?
Doak: I knew very little about it. It was such a slow time for the business I didn’t even ask for maps. They had a consultant call me at first. And I wanted to see what they knew about me and they said they’d played some of my courses and it seemed to him that they were going to talk to a group of people, but the client wanted to talk to me and Bill and Ben. So I figured it was worth my time to go down.
Coore: We don’t really know how to describe it. It is a little like some places, but it isn’t really like any of them. It has big
dunes like Ireland. Some smaller stuff a little like Bandon Dunes. And more sweeping hills like the sand hills in Nebraska. And in the midst of that they have lakes, which is unheard of. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like it.
G4G: Did they know what they wanted?
Coore: Not really. Early on Rich Mack, the executive vice-president, it was his idea.
The Mosaic people asked me early on that if we used two different design companies could we work together. They wanted a construction efficiency. I said certainly depending on who it was. Later on they told me it would be Tom and I said, ‘No problem.’
Doak: They took me to a couple of sites and didn’t think 36 holes would fit onto the site and they’d need a second site. I told them it cost more money to do it on two separate sites, and so if we could make two courses work on one site that would be the way to go.
Coore: As it evolved into using the same ground, I know we had never laid out holes with any firm. I’d look for holes out there and I’d identified a lot of holes we both liked and then we’d go out together. We realized we could use them all. But then we decided the two courses would be split in a diagonal from the clubhouse.
After they had determined Tom would do one and we’d do the other, Rich asked us how we were going to make them distinctively different and not intertwined. They were going to be on different parts of property with different bunkers.
Doak: We both have similar philosophies. The client wanted us to describe how they’d be different and we refused to do it. We were confident that they would turn out different. We both see each other’s courses and a lot of the time I think, ‘I wouldn’t have done that like that.’ That’s not saying it is bad – just we wouldn’t have done it that way. So just like we didn’t draw a line through the middle of the property, we didn’t say ‘You take the big greens and I’ll make the small ones.’ With the other guy working right there all you had to do was walk over a hill and see what the other guy was doing.
Coore: We ended up with the two of us saying the two courses could work. And once this back and forth went on, we met on the grounds and said, ‘These are two courses we think could be built.’ But there was never a suggestion of who would do which. And finally Tom sent back a stick line routing on a topo map and one was in red and one was blue. So that’s how it happened.
G4G: How did you decide who would design on each routing?
Coore: Ben and I walked both routings and asked him whether he had a strong preference. I thought he’d take the blue because it had the least amount of earth to move. And we didn’t know what was going on with the opening holes on the red because there was still mining there to complete. Ben didn’t really feel strongly one way or another.
It actually got decided – and this is no embellishment – and Jimbo Wright, a shaper of ours – was at Pinehurst. And I said there were two courses we were going to do in Florida with Tom Doak doing the other. And he, being a pragmatic type, asked which would take more work – he could see which way the golf business was going. He instantly said take the one with more work. “Hey buddy,” he said, “take the one with the work that will keep us going.” So I called Ben and said Jimbo told us to take the one with more work. And Ben laughed. But that night I thought we should take the Red course, because people wouldn’t expect it. Ben said he was fine with it – he thought both would be very good. Rich Mack said we could flip a coin.
Doak: I was a little surprised Bill and Ben took the land he did. There were certain holes on both courses that he was attached to that he’d come up with. And some of the starting holes on the blue holes were his at the start. Some of the beginning holes on the blue course – 3, 4, 5 – were his and I knew he really liked those. And I knew he liked 16,17, 18 on the Red Course. And no one knew what was happening with the first holes on the Red because they were going to mine that and just destroy it.
G4G: What do you see as the differences between the two courses?
Doak: Generally speaking Bill’s greens are tougher tee to green, but easier once you get there. Mine is a little bit gentler getting to the green but if you get yourself out of position it is pretty tough. You’ll make bogey – but not triple. And there are places you can get yourself where it is tough to get down in two, but if people play it a few times they’ll realize where they can’t be. That’s by design. You don’t have to go there – that’s why you have to hit a good drive or just lay up.
At one point Eric Iverson was shaping our ninth green and on the other side Jimbo Wright was shaping the 17th green. And we were standing right in between them watching them work. And my guys tend to work fast and furious and Bill’s guys are painstakingly slow and meticulous. It was fun to watch things at two different speeds. And we saw a lot of cool stuff that I thought, ‘I won’t do that now.’