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
R825, walking allowed,
golf carts, e-bikes, trolleys
Jack Nicklaus 2006
042 200 4500
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.
64, Bryce Bibby (2015 Origins); Steve Surry (2017 Origins)
Of the 173 holes-in-one at St Francis Links, 85 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 club website. The St Francis Golf Lodge has 10 guest rooms close to the clubhouse. St Francis Links is developing a boutique hotel by Mantis next to the clubhouse. It is being sold as a sectional title scheme.
Spacious 280-metre range with grass bays separate from clubhouse, reached by golf cart. Extensive 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 160 completed homes, out of a projected 540.
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 40 club championship titles in the East Cape, at Humewood (22), St Francis Bay (13) and St Francis Links (5).
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.
If you've played this course recently, why not tell us all about it? Follow the link to our review section, complete our grading criteria and give us some details on your experience. If selected, your review will appear amongst the course’s collection of player reviews.