Fortress of Solitude
At Streamsong Resort, just a few country miles from nowhere, you can immerse yourself in spectacular golf and much more.
If you’re looking for the middle of nowhere, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place than rural Florida south of Bartow and east of Tampa—a region of straight-shot Polk County highways cutting through scrub and pastures dotted by crossroads with names like Bradley Junction, Brewster and, appropriately, Fort Lonesome.
This is the land of Streamsong, a luxury golf resort where you really can get away from it all. Once you’ve checked in, you don’t venture out for groceries or a quaint dinner spot 20 minutes away. Quite literally, there’s nothing else around. But that’s a good thing because there’s more than enough to love at this out-of-the way gem—from 36 superb holes of golf to a wide variety of fine dining choices to an angular, spacious 216-room lodge that looks like something out of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural playbook.
Sunset from Fragmentary Blue, the sixth-floor lodge spot where you can enjoy cocktails and lighter fare (COURTESY OF STREAMSONG RESORT).
Streamsong is a popular destination for golfing “buddy trips,’’ but couples enjoy great getaways here as well. And there are mountains, believe it or not, huge peaks of sand pushed into formations by decades of phosphate mining. A few years ago, developers decided those abandoned hills would make a great spot to build some non-traditional Florida golf courses, and the resulting landscape is a dazzling sea of contours unfurling across a mixture of natural and man-made terrain. Golfers in-the-know compare the links-like layouts to the legendary Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin—minus Lake Michigan. The two courses—Streamsong Red and Streamsong Blue—have won numerous awards and are highly ranked (10th and 14th respectively) on Golf magazine’s latest list of Top 100 Courses You Can Play. A third course, Streamsong Black, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
Streamsong’s lodge offers spacious rooms and great views (COURTESY OF STREAMSONG RESORT).
The courses are breathtaking—and challenging. Streamsong considers golf an art form and caters to the serious player, as opposed to, say, the duffer who has trouble getting off the tee or breaking 100. Walking is mandatory most of the time, and hiring a caddie is strongly encouraged, especially if you’ve never played here. Carts are allowed in the summer but even then a forecaddie is required to tag along, give advice and keep an eye on the balls’ locations. And with the bare-bones signage and maps, you really need these experts for guidance on distances, club selection and reading the tricky greens.
While golf is certainly the star at Streamsong, there’s so much more to enjoy about this one-of-a-kind outpost of luxury:
The Rooms. They’re huge, featuring a king or two queen beds, floor-to-ceiling windows with great views, two giant flat-screen TVs (one to watch from bed, the other from the sofa), and large showers.
Dining. There are three fabulous main choices. P₂O₅ is perfect for lunch after a morning round; winning items include the signature burger topped with Applewood bacon, as well as items like crab mac-n-cheese and horseradish onion rings. At dinner, go upscale with the resort’s signature restaurant, SotoTerra, where the Italian-inspired menu boasts a great rack of lamb and a bone-in pork chop, along with a selection of creative pasta dishes and pizzas. Restaurant Fifty-Nine, located in the clubhouse, dazzles with huge cuts of beef, seared swordfish and starters like a crab scotch egg. And don’t miss the sunsets from Fragmentary Blue, the sixth-floor gathering spot at the lodge offering cocktails and lighter fare like grouper tacos.
Spa and Pool. AcquaPietra spa offers a wide variety of services in a grotto-like setting. From deep tissue to sports massages, this is the place you dream about when your muscles are starting to ache a bit on that final stretch of holes. Outside, enjoy a cabana around a gorgeous infinity pool that mesmerizes with the illusion of merging with one of Streamsong’s blue lakes.
The infinity pool seems to disappear into a lake (COURTESY OF STREAMSONG RESORT).
Bass Fishing and More. This is great angling country, so be prepared to haul in the big-boy bass. Don’t worry if you’ve never cast a line; the friendly fishing guides are here to serve. They ferry you quietly to the best spots on a massive lake called Little Payne Creek and soon you’re reeling in a 3-pound largemouth bass—or two, or three. Hint: February and March are the best months for bass fishing. (The record haul here is an 11-pounder.) If you’re more of the target-practice type, Streamsong features a sporting clay course, with certified instructors guiding you through the shooting sport. There’s also an archery course catering to novices and experts alike.
Free unadvertised special: If you’re a stargazer, this is heaven. Just look up on a fall night after leaving dinner at the clubhouse, and you’ll marvel at the dippers and galaxies rendered crystal clear by the lack of light pollution. Because this is the middle of nowhere, remember?
The resort’s top-notch website—streamsongresort.com—is the place to start planning your getaway. It’s loaded with reservation information, photos, culinary menus and more.
Streamsong Resort is 85 miles southwest of Orlando. Take Interstate 4 to Exit 41 (Polk Parkway), just past Lakeland. You’ll end up on State Road 37 going south and there are several twists and turns and North by Northwest-like country intersections before you reach the resort. Practice getting there on Google Maps. Better yet, go to Streamsong’s website for a map and detailed directions.
Streamsong has tons of them, including a fall “stay and play” offer—one night, 18 holes of walking golf and breakfast—starting at $360 per person. Other plans are the Sportsman (fishing, sporting clays and archery), and a spa adventure, which includes massage. Streamsong also has a burgeoning business in the areas of weddings and business gatherings.
MOMENTS TO REMEMBER
The lodge and golf courses rising out of nowhere on the drive in. Deer grazing along the road between the lodge and clubhouse. A wedding party gathering in the lodge at sunset. Complete silence on the course, save for a train whistle in the distance and the whirring of dragonflies. Curious alligators watching you fish.