BOWLING GREEN, Fla. — What do you do with 15 million cubic yards of sand?
If you’re Mosaic, one of the world’s largest phosphate companies, you build two award-winning golf courses.
And a spa.
And an edgy, modern hotel.
In the middle of central Florida, far from any theme park or beach.
Streamsong Resort opened its golf courses and clubhouse in late 2012, and last month, it unveiled its 216-room lodge. It’s located in the tiny community of Bowling Green, which is closer in DNA to cattle ranches than Disney.
In fact, Streamsong is difficult to find; the journey from the Tampa Bay area included a turn at a ramshackle BBQ restaurant and a drive past several cows. A medium-sized metal sign with the resort’s name is the only thing signaling someone has arrived on the property.
Visitors are first greeted by the sight of large, grass covered dunes and blue lakes, and instead of the flat landscape of central Florida, there are hills and dips and yes, some green of the golf courses. A modern-looking hotel, with its slightly curved exterior, is nestled near a lake.
The whole landscape is nothing like anything in Florida, possibly because it’s not groomed and plucked and patterned with palm trees. The property is oddly wild and rough, yet zen-like and tranquil.
The resort was built on what was once a phosphate mine. The mining, which was last done on the property in the 1960s, left behind the sand and the dunes. About seven years ago, a Mosaic executive wondered what the company could do with the property.
“We needed to do something that was exceptional,” said Rich Mack, the general counsel for and executive vice president at Mosaic. “You can go to a lot of great places in Florida. We needed to do exceptional, not just great.”
Mack played college golf and some competitive golf as an adult, so he called in three of the world’s preeminent golf course designers to evaluate the property (Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Doak, the people behind some of the courses at Bandan Dunes in Oregon, for you golfing aficionados).
The golf course gurus were initially skeptical about even coming to look at the property, said Mack.
“They expected central Florida to be relatively flat,” he said.
But once they arrived and saw how nature had overtaken the dunes with natural grasses and scrub, and saw how the Florida sunlight shimmered off the rugged landscape, the trio signed on.
The rest became golfing history. Coore and Crenshaw’s team built one course (the “Red” course) and Doak built another (the “Blue” course). They still have the “Red” and “Blue” names, after the pen colors the designers used to make initial drawings.
Both courses are considered “minimalist” golf, where players generally walk while playing (although carts are available). Rates are $180 for walkers and $210 for a golf cart with a forecaddie during the winter season. Caddies are also available and they work for tips; $80-$100 plus gratuity per group is suggested.