St Francis Bay

St Francis Bay - Eastern Cape

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Manager: Justin Roux
Greenkeeper: Jan Nel
Club captain: Viv Jones
Chairman: Ken Nieuwenhuizen
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 65.1 out of 100
Conditioning13.7 / 20
Playability13.5 / 20
Aesthetics11.0 / 15
Design Variety9.4 / 15
Shot Values8.3 / 15
Memorability9.2 / 15

Course Summary

Three tees / Par 71

White 5647 metres, CR70.8/123
Blue 5213 metres, CR68.7/122
Red 4930 metres, CR67.3/119
Women’s blue, CR74.3/126
Women’s red, CR72.5/121

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R390
Non-affiliated R490

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell 1975,
Golfscape 1999


042 294 0467

Previous ranking

81 (2023), 84 (2022) & 85 (2021)

St Francis Bay is a once-hidden gem which receives greater appreciation from golfers since the opening of the Jack Nicklaus-designed St Francis Links in 2006. The two courses in the village complement each other, and have made this a golfing getaway destination. 

It’s a fun layout yet this is no “holiday course,” even with five par 3s. Visitors are surprised to hear it was once a 9-holer. The course was rebuilt in 1999 by Danie Obermeyer and Phillip Basson from Golfscape with a new routing, although several older holes were retained. Five new holes – 11 to 15 – are on property close to the sea, split from the old nine by a public road. The rest are in the heart of the village, with houses on the perimeter.

With its sandy soil, the course has a strong links feel to it, particularly the bunkering and greens, and indigenous bush lining some fairways has similarities with the Humewood links in PE. Attractive design features have resulted in an interesting variety of holes. The 11th and 13th share a double green. A rare water hazard guards the par-3 eighth.

It can be windy along this coastline during summer, yet St Francis Bay remains playable in difficult conditions.

The original 9-holer was conceived by Maxwell Hulett, brother of Cape St Francis developer Leighton Hulett, and opened in 1975 for private use. The growth of the area in the 1990s, and more permanent residents, made the construction of an 18-holer inevitable. It was built for R1 million by Golfscape. In 2006 the club hosted the SA Country Districts tournament.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

65 by Anton Raubenheimer in 2005

Feature Holes

The 381-metre ninth is a magnificent linksy hole, a dogleg right around coastal bush, that could have come from Ireland or Scotland. From an elevated tee you play to a rumpled fairway. The newer back nine ventures close to the beach, and 12 is a creative short par 4 with a blind approach through the dunes to a hidden green. Two good par 5s at 15 and 18 make up a strong finishing stretch. The 480m 15th is the longest hole adjoining the main road, with a cleverly shaped green, while the 438m dogleg-left 18th is narrow off the tee before widening up to encourage a bold second shot to a long, narrow green.

Practice Facility

Short-game area and warm-up nets close to first tee.

Club Champions

2022 Bazil Coenraad & Chanre Coenraad
2021 Johan Potas & Heather Kruger
2020 Bazil Coenraad & Heather Kruger
2019 Johan Potas & Janine van der Merwe

Did You Know

1/ Many golfers in St Francis Bay are keen surfers. St Francis Bay is a popular surfing mecca, and featured in the 1966 movie The Endless Summer. Cape St Francis has equally superb waves at Seal Point, and featured in another 2014 movie, The Perfect Wave.

2/ The village and canal system marina at St Francis was developed at the Kromme River mouth in the 1960s/70s by Leighton Hulett. Cape St Francis is a nearby village adjoining the historic Seal Point lighthouse (1878), and Port St Francis has a safe harbour which hosts vessels from the squid industry and recreational boats.

3/ The club hosts the 3-day Calamari Classic in September.

4/ Sunshine Tour player James Kamte was assisted by SFB members and won the club championship three times (1999-2002). His brother Ivan won in 2018.

5/ The Eastern Province Senior Open has been played at St Francis Bay in July for 20 years, with 66 the lowest tournament round by past champions Francois le Roux and Zola Konzani.

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Course Reviews
St Francis Bay wouldn't be as underrated as it is had St Francis Links not been next door. Greens are in good condition and a great design for a coastal layout. Beware when the wind is up. It then becomes tough and tricky.
Sandor Kovacs
31 January 2024
This gem with its wide variety of holes is a delight to play and a pleasure to visit. Shortish layout, but a true test in windy weather. It perfectly complements St Francis Links. Having two courses makes St Francis an excellent golfing destination. The vibe in the clubhouse is as good as it gets.
Keith Simpson
10 November 2023
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The drought has been well and truly broken in the Eastern Cape, and St Francis Bay now has abundant water on the course, including a new "burn" across the fairway of the par-5 15th hole which has introduced a greater challenge to an already difficult hole. This must certainly be one of the best 5s in the region, long (480m), predominantly played in a crosswind, with a fairway curving right off the tee bordered by a suburban road. A large bush and rough grass guard the corner of the dogleg, and soon after that comes the new water hazard. It used to be a dry hollow in the fairway but is now flowing with water which then runs down the right side of the fairway. What completes this as an excellent hole is the site and design of the green, near the boundary fence, on a raised mound guarded by bunkers. Anything short and the ball rolls back down the slope. The diagonal green itself rises steadily uphill from front left to back right and is a tricky putting surface.
Stuart McLean
01 November 2023
What a fun and playable par 71 layout this is. A must play for any visitor to this part of the Eastern Cape. It has five par 3s. The wind varied during the round which made many holes challenging. The blind approach into the short par-4 12th green was daunting and visually intimidating into a 3-club wind as the green appears to be surrounded by thick bush. The greens were in good condition and being small require accurate iron shots.
Lihan van der Merwe
24 October 2023
We are blessed with our hidden gems and St Francis Bay is one. A wonderful surprise of a layout which will test every level of golfer on any given day. The wind plays a huge part, changing direction from day to day, thus presenting varied challenges. It's no push over and if you spend time here it will test every club in the bag. There are many memorable holes from the older ones to the new. Condition is good and the clubhouse feels nostalgically lost in time. The management team and members make any visit welcoming and memorable.
Warren Minster
27 June 2023
An interesting and scenic course with fierce winds testing your abilities. Greens and course maintenance is excellent.
Johan Coetzee
19 May 2023
One of the best coastal courses that will challenge the ability of any golfer.
John Herselman
16 April 2023
A gem of a course and well-priced. Great halfway house and bar.
Ronald Stephenson
23 March 2023
Excellent value for money, and this jewel of a course never lets me down as far as condition goes.
Sandor Kovacs
27 December 2022
The most charming course in SA. The greens are always in brilliant nick, a little bit of bite coming in and absolutely true. There are interesting holes on each nine and with a wind you would need every shot in your arsenal to navigate the course. The clubhouse and its staff are amazing and for a real treat have a tipple at the 19th overlooking the 18th.
James Bredenkamp
30 November 2022
This gem of a course is in immaculate condition and a must play for Eastern Cape tours.
Keith Simpson
18 November 2022
My first experience of the Bay course and what a fantastic layout and test for the annual Eastern Province Senior Open. The course plays tough when the wind picks up and the greens have a certain amount of grain that prevents really low rounds. On the whole a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The walk and the views on the 13th tee will be remembered for a long time.
Cameron Johnston
03 July 2022
St Francis Bay begins with one of the more interesting and attractive holes I've played. At 318 metres it could almost be classified as a short par 4, yet it never plays as easy as the card suggests (there are four par 4s between 295 and 318 and I could say the same of each of them). There are trees at the end of the fairway. Bush on the right. A good line to take for the green is via a hook on to the adjoining ninth. What I like about the first is the design of the raised green, a clever hour-glass shape stretching some 50 metres from front to back. Not a bunker in sight. The Bay doesn't have many full stop. Instead it relies on mother nature to supply its hazards, impenetrable coastal bush being a scenic feature on most holes. Unfortunately not all of the other 17 greens are that imaginatively designed, yet collectively they are good in their variety of challenges. A double green serves 11 and 13, and the green on the 480m 15th is a special creation, shallow and wide with tricky slopes, guarded by two deep bunkers. Golf in St Francis Bay is mostly sublime at this time of year, although the odd gale can be expected. The weather is warm and the winds notably lighter.
Stuart McLean
19 June 2022
Excellent course, interesting layout, outstanding greens. Wonderful club management.
Guy Pearson
09 January 2022
Eastern Cape courses are very different in character to those in the Garden Route. More natural looking in their design. Due to a windier climate they are also not as lush and green, although I found the quality of the greens at St Francis Bay equal to courses in George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. But the fairway grass is more coarse here.
Dieter ten Haag
07 November 2021
A little gem in the middle of the town. Well worth the green fees. Totally amazing.
Jethro Cadman
20 September 2021
A pleasant course to play, tight with little margin for error. The lack of rain means the fairways require placing but greens are good and run smoothly. Got to watch the nap. The bunkers can be tricky due to the heavy sand. The course lacks attention to detail but for the green fee it’s worth a visit.
Henry Trevena
06 July 2021
The Bay course is not only fun to play, it's a remarkably good layout with a distinctly coastal feel to it, boasting many fine qualities. The holes are interesting and distinctive, some exceptional, it's playable and challenging in all weather conditions, and the greens are consistently superb to putt on. In my eyes it's a links, and with its dry fairways the ball runs a bit. The greens probably wouldn't qualify though as they are receptive rather than firm. A course with five par 3s is unusual, and on the day I played there were 19 two-clubs in the competition. The club is a welcoming one, and you can't help but enjoy the 19th hole and its balcony overlooking the 18th green, a fabulous par-5 finishing hole.
Stuart McLean
21 May 2021
Although not in the same class as St Francis Links the Bay course offers some interesting challenges, especially if the wind is pumping. One of its advantages is that the terrain is fairly level & easy to walk. However, many fairways are flanked by thick fynbos making accurate tee-shots an absolute must! The greens are good but a little slow and although the fairways were dry they played well. The staff are friendly & welcoming which adds to the enjoyment.
David Mack
19 April 2021
An underrated course which is enjoyable and extremely playable.
Sandor Kovacs
06 April 2021

Magnificent course that challenges you even on a rare windless day.

Anzet Schoeman
14 February 2021
Great layout with a distinctly links feel that makes for an interesting round. If the wind is up it can be challenging. A fantastic vibe in the clubhouse thanks to the friendly staff.
Amy Laird
20 January 2021
The little sibling to St Francis Links has a relaxed atmosphere, and interesting holes make this a course well worth playing. The course was very dry but that adds to the enjoyment of playing a links type layout.
Tara Swart
19 January 2021
A favourite Eastern Cape course, fun to play, with some great holes and a routing that makes for a huge amount of variety. I love the holes that wind through the coastal bush. The fairways are not always as consistent as some other courses in the region, but they work in line with its coastal setting. Greens slow but consistent.
Chris Wood
17 January 2021
These days several coastal (and inland) courses other than Humewood (the genuine article) claim to be a "Links." But if any layout deserves that classification it is St Francis Bay. This unpretentious and well-conditioned layout has several holes straight out of the links playbook. There's none of the dramatic holes you find at St Francis Links, yet the fairways undulate in a linksy fashion, and the terrain has that seaside look to it. In fact, the 12th green is so close to the ocean that the club is concerned for its future. You can also run the ball into greens, allowing you a greater variety of shots.
Thomas Souness
30 October 2020
One of the special hidden gems we have in South Africa. A linksy course which exudes character and charm. On a breezy day it's a challenge, yet like the Humewood links in PE it is eminently playable. Some very good holes, and plenty of variety. The greens are modern designs, with sensible slopes, although the short 17th is treacherous! The 15th is one of the best par 5s in the Eastern Cape. You don't want to be hitting a long club into that splendidly designed green. I like the way the course wanders through the St Francis village, and there's a friendly vibe in the clubhouse which can keep you at the 19th far longer than you intended..
Stuart McLean
14 September 2020
An underrated course and a treat to play. A challenging and varied layout. Several blind shots but it rewards good golf. Greens well looked after and easy to putt on.
Sandor Kovacs
28 April 2020
A fun course, with good greens all year round, and a friendly club. Layout short but interesting, the wind usually adding the difficulty factor. Very playable for the average golfer.
Ivan Palframan
20 February 2020
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