It’s the eve of Election Day, and the political prognosticators continue to talk about the possibility of blue and red waves. Stakes are running high in battleground states all across the land, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could set partisan divisions aside and appreciate red and blue for what they are – two primary colors.
Happily, we can turn to golf. There’s one very prominent place - in Florida, no less - where red and blue are completely apolitical and utterly in harmony. At Streamsong Resort, the two original eighteens, both of which debuted simultaneously on December 1, 2012, are the Red Course, a Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw creation, and the Blue Course, a Tom Doak design. A third eighteen, Gil Hanse’s Black Course, joined the fold in 2017.
We recently caught up (separately) with Coore and Tom Doak to ask them about the genesis of the intertwined layouts and the naming of the courses. It turns out there’s quite a captivating story to be told.
When Coore-Crenshaw and Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf garnered the commissions to do Streamsong’s first two eighteens, the Mosaic Company intended the layouts to be built on two different sites. However, both design teams, which enjoy a close relationship and share the utmost respect for each other, gravitated to the same portion of the vast decommissioned phosphate-mining site. Rather than force one design team onto inferior ground, Coore-Crenshaw, Tom Doak and the Mosaic Company worked together to see if there was a way to get 36 holes on the site.
As Coore tells it, after he had walked the site and fashioned a preliminary 18-hole routing, he wasn’t all that thrilled with what he had come up with. When he communicated this to Tom Doak, Doak expressed similar sentiments about his initial routing plan. They then decided to head out together and simply look for the best holes they could find.
After a lot of sharing of information, they still only had about 30 holes picked out before the site got too congested. Adding any more holes would have compromised the virtues of the golfing grounds where the heaving sand dunes were a far cry from the flat terrain that is more typical of Florida. Thankfully, Coore found some land at the edge of the site that was still being used for mining but would serve their needs.
With the Mosaic Company’s blessing, Coore-Crenshaw and Doak now had enough holes for two full courses, though they still had to decide on two coherent routings. According to Coore, Doak went home and started making an initial stick map with the holes. Right from the beginning there was some crossover, as both eighteens contained some holes Coore had suggested as well some Doak had plotted.
Doak sent the drawing back to Coore who made tweaks and modifications, just as Doak did after he received Coore’s alterations. Coore said Doak’s initial drawing showed one course in red ink and the other in blue.
What wasn’t decided was which design team would do what course. Back in 2012, Coore told us the Mosaic Company suggested flipping a coin, but he knew Doak wouldn’t go for that. The ground for the Blue Course was more naturally suited to minimalist golf holes, while the ground for the Red Course, which contained the land added to the site, needed substantial earth moving. Coore said he and Crenshaw had walked both and were fine with either, knowing full well that Doak preferred the Blue Routing. Coore-Crenshaw ultimately selected the Red because Jimbo Wright, their shaper, said it would give him more work.
But what to call the respective courses? Doak told us Streamsong hired a marketing company to name the courses, but neither he nor Coore nor Crenshaw thought any of the names the firm came up with bore any relation to the layouts they had created or the design principles that guided their work.
Though Doak didn’t share any of the proposed names with us, he did say that he still occasionally looks at the list for a good chuckle. Doak’s advice to Streamsong was to concentrate on building up the brand of the resort rather than to come up with catchy course names. He thought the course names should be simple. Since directional names wouldn’t work because the courses were intertwined, and “inner” and “outer” didn’t have an appealing ring, they’d have to choose something else.
And so at Streamsong Resort in Central Florida, it all eventually came back to the initial colored stick drawings. Doak’s course was drawn in Blue and Coore-Crenshaw’s was done in Red, and thus the Red and Blue courses were born. It’s a simple as that, and they go together splendidly. Now, if only Red and Blue politics were as amiable.