I’m an avid golfer, but I’ll admit that I’m not totally up on the status of the resort golfing industry. That aside, I see great potential in the new Streamsong Resort, which officially opened this weekend in southwestern Polk County.
I love the premise of the course: building a world-class venue from reclaimed phosphate land. It’s a different kind of golf course than you’ll find most anywhere in the country, and it’s already received strong reviews from national outlets like Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
The idea is that golfers with money to burn who plan golf trips will be drawn to the remote location with picturesque views, challenging golf, and eventually, a top-notch resort facility.
There’s little to doubt on the golf side. The courses were designed by renowned architects and all the reviews so far have been stellar
The trick will be on the destination aspect. Will people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to travel to rural Florida just to play golf? It’s not like the beach is right next door or a theme park just around the corner. There’s not even a Wal-Mart all that close, and it’s still a pretty good drive from any major airport.
So, first impressions will be key. If there continues to be positive buzz around the course, and the new resort facility that is still being finished is impressive with its lodgings and amenities, then there is a chance that Streamsong can build good momentum. If people write good reviews and tell their friends how great the place is, then there is a market out there that can make the resort successful.
For a cautionary tale, look at the old Grenelefe resort in East Polk. It used to be a destination in the middle of nowhere and hosted some great events, as well. It struggled financially and fell into disrepair in the past 10-15 years (more details here). Granted, it was a bigger project than Streamsong, but it shows that even maintaining a successful resort venture can be tenuous.
Another drawback to Streamsong is it’s not going to be a great fit for the casual golfer who enjoys a new challenge. At about $200 a round, it’s a little out of range for myself and most other above-average players who enjoy a couple of rounds a month.
Other than those issues, however, this project looks good and sounds like it’s off to a great start. It will be great for the region if it succeeds, and could potentially bring some quality events to the area, as well.
I’m definitely rooting for Streamsong, even if it might be a while before I can play it.