Streamsong Resort in Florida opened in 2012, and in addition to its two original golf courses and the addition of a lodge and third course, a major talking point has always been its owner, the Mosaic Company.
Mosaic, one of the world’s largest phosphate producers, had mined for decades the remote Central Florida site where Streamsong was built, about an hour’s drive southeast of Tampa and 90 minutes southwest of Orlando. Those past mining activities defined the land, leaving huge mounds of sand that over time became surreal dunes. The landscape makes Streamsong’s three courses very different from anything else in Florida.
But Mosaic was still first and foremost a mining company. It contracted with Illinois golf management company KemperSports to operate the golf courses from the start, and two years ago KemperSports took over management of the entire resort, including hospitality. There was speculation for several years that Mosaic would sell the resort at some point.
That time has come, as Mosaic has sold Streamsong Resort to its longtime management partner, KemperSports. As first reported by Fire Pit Collective, the asking price was $160 million, confirmed by Mosaic in a press release on Friday. The acquisition included three golf courses, two clubhouses, Streamsong Lodge and other amenities, all on 7,000 acres as part of the deal. Just over 2,000 of those acres are now in use as part of the complex.
The Lodge at Streamsong in Florida (Courtesy of Streamsong)
Each of Streamsong’s three courses – the red by designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the blue by Tom Doak, and the black by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner – rank in the top 60 on the list of Best Modern Courses by Streamsong. Golfweek in the United States. The Red ranks second on Golfweek’s list of the best public access layouts in Florida, with Black No. 3 and Blue No. 4 on that list. Streamsong is one of the few resorts that has so many highly rated courses.
“We are very excited,” said Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperSports. golf week on Friday. “As you know, we have been involved with this property since almost day 1, for over 10 years. It is such a special project and such a special property, we are very excited. It’s a rare place in golf and truly iconic.”
Skinner, a trained attorney who has worked at KemperSports since 1998, described the acquisition as competitive with several other potential buyers looking to take advantage of golf’s resurgent popularity since the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020. He said there aren’t many properties like Streamsong. with its three courses, and interest was high.
KemperSports has 140 properties in its management stable, Skinner said, including 15 fields it owns and another dozen it leases. Those properties under management include private clubs and public access designs, and the company also operates a division focused on recreational and youth sports venues. KemperSports was founded in 1978 by Steve Lesnick, who still serves as its president, and in 2022 the company took on several new investors who provided capital for expansion, including the acquisition of Streamsong.
Having managed Streamsong’s golf course for a decade and the entire resort for the past few years, there’s not much of a learning curve for KemperSports as it takes over the resort. KemperSports does not plan any personnel changes, and Skinner said he has faith that the people who work at the resort remain focused on customers and continuous improvement. Skinner spoke with golf week of various plans for the resort, both short and long term.
The biggest change coming soon will be the development of The Chain, a short, non-traditional 18-hole course by the team at Coore and Crenshaw to be built directly across from the resort’s 228-room hotel. Streamsong announced plans to build The Chain a year ago.
Is there even more golf on the horizon for Streamsong? Read on for that and more from Skinner. This discussion has been edited for length.
Golfweek: You mentioned that you’ve been involved since Day 1. Could you ever have imagined that things at Streamsong would turn out the way they have after 10 years, with the addition of a new course (the Black) and the Streamsong Lodge and everything else?
Streamsong Black, the resort’s third course, opened in 2017. (Courtesy Streamsong Resort/Laurence Lambrecht)
Skinner: It really is amazing. I’m on the same roads now as I was before we opened 10 years ago, when it was under construction. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is really remote. Can they build something really special? And I think it’s amazing the growth that’s been seen and really the popularity.
It all starts for us in two ways. One, it’s truly unique golf, unique in Florida and unique in the Southeast. And two, the people. We are very lucky to have great people.
Over the past two years, we have been very focused on the golfer and the golf experience. And it’s paid off and it’s really hit the nail on the head with golfers, making everything golfer-focused.
You can see how things have changed in recent years, with the focus more on golf. You can see it from restaurant menus to place name changes throughout the complex. Was it an overdue change, to put the focus back on the golfer?
Streamsong Red (Courtesy of Streamsong/Laurence Lambrecht)
Yeah, that was really a change in vision and focus. What I think has happened is that golf courses have evolved, and there are three golf courses in the top 100 (modern courses in the US) and three courses in the top 25 that you can play (Golfweek’s Best Access Top 100). public), and I think golf turned out even better than anyone could have imagined. So it really became, this is a special place where people travel long distances to come golf and stay.
We really feel, that’s what we do. We are golf, and we are passionate about golf. We felt like we could really take advantage of that. As I always say, we focus everything in the resort around the golfer, in his tee times and in making him more relaxed. From the moment they greet him at the hostel, everyone talks about golf all the time, what course he just played and what course he’s going to play next. It was a natural type of evolution.
Can you explain to me how the deal was closed?
Obviously, we’ve had a great relationship for a long time with Mosaic and their management team. We have often expressed to you that when you felt ready to pass the torch to someone, we wanted to be that group. So there were a series of conversations that happened formally and informally over the years. They felt the time was right as of last summer, so we spent the last two months working on all the details.
For Streamsong, are there any changes on the way? Anything short or long term besides the addition of The Chain and the new golf course there and those amenities?
The site of The Chain short course and The Bucket putting course are directly opposite the main lodge in Streamsong. The names come from past mining operations at the site. (Gabe Gudgel/Golfweek)
The beauty of it, because we’ve been involved for so long and we know it very well, we’re 100 percent committed to The Chain and those other resources there, so it’s really going to be our big project in the short term. Construction should start, knock on wood, in the next 45 days to open this year. That will be the main focus.
As we move forward, we’ll be looking for long-term opportunities to add amenities, whether it’s additional accommodations or even an additional golf course. We see a lot of demand, so we see a lot of opportunity as we look to the future to continually expand the resort. And everything will be centered around golf.
We might see some cabins in the future. We’ve talked a lot about that and I think it will be part of our long-term plan. That’s what golfers and golf groups like to do. They come in groups of four, eight, 12, 16 and they like to have that camaraderie.
We have great lodging deals here now, and we have the new Clubhouse Experience that is taking advantage of that. Above Red and Blue’s shared clubhouse, we have 12 rooms (plus a large common room complete with food service and pool table) that are being sold as a package, and that’s going great. So we see a lot of demand for that. We’re going to put even more money into that central room and do that again, but it’s already an improved experience. If you have a group, it’s a lot of fun.
You mentioned a full size fourth course. Is it something you’ve had your eyes on for a while? You have another 5,000 acres.
Streamsong Red and Blue are intertwined, with most of the Blue within a loop within most of the Red. (Courtesy of Streamsong)
Very early stages. There is a lot of land here, a lot of good land remains. We haven’t really gotten very far, but as demand continues to grow, that’s obviously the next way to go with one of these packs. There have been architects over the years who have come and looked at it and picked some sites, but we haven’t gotten very far. That’s just kind of our long-term planning.
Does Kemper Sports have plans for further acquisitions?
We want to continue growing in all our areas. We added more than 20 properties, most of them third-party managed properties, in the last year. Therefore, we will continue to increase the third-party management part and the leasing part. And you know, when we see the right opportunity to grow and acquire a club, a course or even a resort, we will continue to do so. We always go where opportunity takes us.
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek