OLD PAYNE CREEK MINE | Carved into the side of a towering sand hill rising 100 feet above the lake below, the par-3 seventh hole on Tom Doak’s Blue Course at Streamsong Resort will be a mid-iron shot with nothing but water between the tee box and the green.
Doak’s design is one of two 18-hole golf courses under construction at Streamsong along with the Red Course being routed by Coore & Crenshaw.
Both courses stretch across a desolate expanse of sand, dunes and lakes once mined for phosphate by The Mosaic Company in the far southwest reaches of Polk County.
Doak, a world-renowned course architect from Traverse City, Mich., said Streamsong will be unique to Florida and perhaps the Southeast, the dunes-style courses taking shape where phosphate mining operations started in the 1960s.
“If you’d have brought me out here blindfolded and ripped it off and said, ‘What state?’ Florida would have been like the 45th guess out of 50,” Doak said during a tour of the course on Jan. 28.
Mosaic began developing a strategy for the 16,535-acre property near the old Payne Creek Mine four years ago, originally planning to level it off for pasture land. But the vision of a luxury resort took root two years ago, and the world’s largest phosphate company launched a $70 million-to-$80 million project to create a golf destination.
“When we looked at all our land holdings, this just screamed ‘golf course,'” said Tom Sunnarborg, Mosaic’s vice president of land development and management, and the man in charge of the project.
Mosaic started by hiring Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design and Coore & Crenshaw, two of the world’s leading golf course architecture firms, with five of the top 10 layouts in Golfweek’s 2010 Best Modern Courses between them.
Rich Mack, Mosaic’s executive vice president and general counsel, has high hopes the resort will draw golfers from across America, internationally, and even from Walt Disney World in Orlando when completed in late 2013.
“This will be one of the most highly touted golf projects to roll out in the United States in some time,” Mack said.