BOWLING GREEN, Fla. — There is little doubt that today’s golf resorts are focusing more on an experience that goes beyond 18 holes of golf.
From iconic destinations like Pinehurst Resort and Pebble Beach Golf Links to newer venues like Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and Cabot Links Resort, there is a greater emphasis being placed pre- and post-round offerings.
The same can be said for Streamsong Golf Resort and Spa.
When the Mosaic Co. sought to transform an old phosphate mine and brought golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to design one course and Tom Doak to design another, unclear was how successful the resort would become. The resort, located just south of Lakeland, is an hour from the Gulf Coast and nearly two hours from Orlando.
So the experience — along with the golf on the Blue, Red and newly opened Black courses — needed to be worthy of return visits.
Streamsong has certainly upped the ante with its in-round dining fare.
If playing the Blue, which was designed by Doak, then stopping by the taco stand off the ninth green is practically mandatory.
Yes, tacos can be had most anywhere, but these come with the freshest ingredients, include freshly barbecued fish.
Chef Michael Carpenter is responsible not only for cooking the scrumptious fish in the tacos, but also the mouthwatering barbecue that is offered at the halfway house by the eighth green on the Coore/Crenshaw-designed Red course.
“Most golf courses have hot dogs, hamburgers, we try to keep it kind of unique,” said Carpenter of Streamsong’s philosophy.
On this particular day, Carpenter was smoking about 180 pounds of pork butts, a process that takes nearly 10 hours at temperatures between 225 and 250.
Naming another course that would spend approximately 12 hours — from prep time to final product — to offer a memorable barbecue sandwich for $7 would be difficult, if not impossible.
Carpenter is also responsible for the beef, bacon, sausage and fish smoking as well. As challenging as the Blue course can be, making the turn and taking in the smells wafting through the trees can be an enticing distraction.
“Bacon has a different rub, butts have a different rub, brisket has a different rub and the sausages have a different rub,” said Carpenter of the basics, but offered nothing more. “I can't give you that. I'm going to keep that to myself.”
When the Gil Hanse-designed Black course opened in the fall, The Tin Can, the course’s halfway house, was still under construction. That fact did not stop Carpenter from serving up empanadas along with more traditional fare such as Buffalo chicken and chili dogs for $4.
The empanada didn’t make the cut, though, and lobster rolls are now the staple when making the turn on the Black course.
Any way you slice it, going to Streamsong is more than just a golf experience.
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read.