Gold 6553 metres, CR76.5/149
White 5945 metres, CR73.3/145
Blue 5353 metres, CR70.3/133
Red 4791 metres, CR67.3/122
Women’s blue, CR75.8/142
Women’s red, CR72.2/133
R895, walking allowed,
golf carts R400
R715 for referred guests
Multiple pay packages
Jack Nicklaus Signature 2006
042 200 4500
5 (2021) & 6 (2020)
St Francis Links occupies one of the finest links sites, built in high rolling dunes overlooking St Francis Bay and the Indian Ocean. The dunes stretch for kilometres and you could have built as many links here as there are at St Andrews.
Jack Nicklaus excelled himself as a designer with his varied challenges, short and long, wide and narrow, uphill and down, each hole complemented by exquisite greens complexes with bent grass surfaces that hold their own mysteries. The course asks for brave shots and inventive ones. With cool season grasses it might not be a firm and fast-running links, yet it shouts links terrain of a magnificent quality from No 1 to 18.
The scene is set with a remarkable opener, requiring a drive over the edge of a bunker in a dune to a hidden fairway. Four different sets of tees make the course enjoyable for everyone, and forward tees are even the sensible choice for low-handicaps on a windy day. Some bunkers are deep and severe, yet the course has become more playable in recent years with fairways widened.
This is a True Links, although some purists might not appreciate the water hazards, unavoidable due to the Sand River running through the property. A large dam on the upper part of the course frames holes 13 to 15. It guards the left side of 13, shortest of the par 5s. And at the dramatic par-4 18th, played from a high tee, another prominent hazard left of the fairway makes for an intimidating tee shot.
Each hole is named, and some aptly describe what lies ahead. The par-3 fourth, Double Vision, has two separate greens, one on a lower level used most of the time, and another more difficult target higher on a dune. Eye of the Needle at No 8 is just that: you thread your tee shot through a gap to a narrow fairway. No 11 is simply called Eish! That’s what many golfers exclaim standing on the elevated tee when they first see this spectacular par 4 carved through the dunes.
The double-storey clubhouse occupies a scenic position above the 18th green. There’s a fine-dining restaurant, and is a popular venue for functions.
St Francis Links was named South Africa’s Best Golf Course at the 2021 World Golf Awards in Dubai.
63, Steve Surry, 2021 SA PGA Championship
Surry had 7 birdies and a hole-in-one at the seventh in the first round
63, Ruan Korb, 2022 Vodacom Origins
Korb had 10 birdies and an eagle at 6 in the final round to win the title.
St Francis Links is hosting this Sunshine Tour event until 2023. George Coetzee won in 2022 with 15-under 273, and Dean Burmester in 2021 with 271. It is the first time the PGA Championship has been at a coastal venue.
Of the 229 holes-in-one at St Francis Links, 114 have been at No 17, where Nicklaus designed a Redan-style green in the dunes playing between 190 and 125 metres. Golfers of all abilities have improved odds of a hole-in-one if they hit the green, which slopes towards the back, where the pin is always placed. It has become a fun hole where groups are entertained with sundowner shootouts. Several other holes stand out as equally unique creations. The opening par 4 over a dune; the risk-and-reward short par 4 at No 5 with its array of bunkers; the wide fairway and hidden green at 12. And then there are a quartet of demanding par 4s at Nos 9, 11, 15 and 18, each with its own individual character.
Luxury self-catering homes are available to rent through the estate’s website. The St Francis Lodge has 10 guest rooms close to the clubhouse. A new sectional title development by Mantis Group features two-bedroom en-suite units (with double garage) overlooking the 18th hole with ocean views.
Spacious 280-metre range with grass bays some distance from clubhouse. Short-game area adjoins clubhouse.
1/ St Francis Links was where Par-3 golf began locally. CEO Jeff Clause had the bright idea of converting the course into 18 Par-3 holes – “The Ultimate Par 3” with its own scorecard – employing temporary tees 75 to 130 metres from each green. It makes for a quick round using carts, and is popular on windy days. There is even a club championship.
2/ Voted Golf Digest Best New Course in 2007, and a constant presence in the Top 10 since then. Walking is allowed, yet many use carts.
3/ The estate has grown to 220 completed homes, out of a projected 540. St Francis Links has experienced an increase in property sales since Covid as young families move into the area.
4/ Numerous elite tournaments, pro and amateur, have been played here. The Sunshine Tour visits regularly.
5/ Jordan Duminy, 16, set a new amateur record of 65 (nine birdies) in winning the SA Under-17 title in 2019.
6/ The clubhouse is a popular wedding venue, the course hosts numerous charity days, raising more than a million rand annually, and a Park Run is held on the estate every Saturday morning.
7/ Dr Lynn Slogrove has won 42 club championship titles in the East Cape, at Humewood (23), St Francis Bay (13) and St Francis Links (6).
2021 Michael Buckham & Lynn Slogrove
2020 Michael Buckham (record 71-72=143)
& Rita du Plessis
2019 Boetie Zietsman & Lynn Slogrove
Always fun to play and in pristine condition. Every hole is distinct, many risk-and-reward holes and, with a choice of 4 tee boxes, it is accessible for all handicaps and conditions. They offer electric bicycles in addition to golf carts, which are great fun to whizz around this beautiful course.
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