St Francis Bay
Once a sleepy resort with a 9-hole course, it has grown enormously and now boasts two 18-holers, including the magnificent Jack Nicklausdesigned St Francis Links, ranked No 7 in Golf Digest’s Top 100.The old St Francis
9-holer was extended to 18, and this smaller layout – itself ranked No 96 – perfectly complements the estate property across the road. On a windy day this is the course to play, being more sheltered and manageable to play than the Links.The clubhouse, in the heart of the village, is a social place to be, whether you’re playing golf or not.
St Francis Links is a course best appreciated in good weather. For me, it’s a brilliant design, a modern masterpiece, but I wouldn’t venture out in a gale, because there are playability issues on certain holes. Saying that, though, the landing areas are now much wider than they were when it was opened at the end of 2006. One thing that has disappointed me is that the Links has become something of a cart course, with few walkers, because of the terrain, and a few steep climbs from green to tee. It somehow seems sacrilegious to drive a cart around one of golf’s most natural designs.
The Eastern Cape is a friendly province, and you will find a warm welcome at all the courses, but particularly so in St Francis Bay, where the locals go out of their way to make visitors feel at home.