This is links golf at it’s best!
The following are not my words, but I fully agree with every word and it certainly describes this Jack Nicklaus Signature creation:
“St Francis Links land may not have been grazing land for the sheep and rabbits, but a natural course between the beach and arable land it is. Jack Nicklaus has had the pleasure of taking Mother Nature's best piece of links land and signed his name to something unique. St Francis Links will challenge all who play it and reward those who respect it.
The layout combines every element of shot making with its undulating terrain, greens and surrounds as well as its variation in length and direction.
The bunkers look as though they have been simply plowed out of the land. It is the bunkering that truly defines the quality and character of St Francis Links. Others have designed and built courses with a links look. Here you will easily see what separates St Francis Links from the rest a consistent look throughout. One will agree that, almost from the opening shot, St Francis Links carries a look and feel that breathes history from times gone by.
The shape of the greens comes from the natural movement of the land. The greens have simply been placed on top of the sand, changing shape in construction as the wind changed its mind. Some are more undulating than others. All putting surfaces and green surrounds present a mental and physical test.”
St Francis Links is a tremendous golf course and I just love it. It’s a great test of golf for every player and an extremely enjoyable challenge.
The dune land is tremendous and the size of it is huge. The layout of the course is extremely natural. A tremendous job has also been done in preserving the amazing wildlife and fauna that surrounds the golf course. The extremely small tees melt into the nature and you almost can’t see them. The variation of the holes is impressive and they all have character. You also have options on how to play each hole – that’s something I appreciate about a links course.
The condition of the course is superb and the course has matured very well. The only little detail I think can be done differently is to let the bunker edges be even more rugged then they are.
It’s 18 great holes and yes, 3 holes are around a little lake and not really links holes, but it doesn’t bother me. They are great holes with a lot of character. The four holes that stand out for me are:
Hole 5 – 310 meters par 4 – “Braveheart”
Fantastic view from tee. You have a choice; take the driver and go for the green, but you need to carry a myriad of bunkers protecting the green or play a 210 meters shot down the right hand side followed by a pitch. I didn’t go for the green, but made a solid par both days.
Hole 6 – 487 meters par 5 – “Checkmate”
Ball position on this hole is crucial. Long hitters can carry the bunkers on the right hand side and go for green. For the more average players, use the clubs you trust and be on green in four. Te best angle to this shallow green is from 60-80 meters. Managed to do par both days and same strategy; driver on the left hand side, 4-iron and a short pitch followed by two putts. No drama.
Hole 16 – 519 meters par 5 – “Split image”
A creek is splitting the fairway in the middle. So you have a choice to be aggressive and drive down the left hand side or play it safer on the right hand side. The fairway narrows down towards the green and yes, the creek is still there all the way to the green. Every shot is a true test. Drive down the right hand side, 4-iron in the creek and on grass floating on top of the water, went for a “wet” pitch, another pitch from a bush to green edge, two putts for a bogey 6.
Hole 17 – 179 meters par 3 – “St Francis Bay”
Great hole with a fantastic view of the village and ocean. The green is sloping from right to left, so be careful about the hole position. If the hole is to the left, you can carry the ball to the very right side of green and it’ll take the ball across the green to the hole. 4-iron both days and both ended up slightly to the left of green, up and down for a par on one day followed by up and two put the next.
I did play St Francis links twice and played fairly consistent and OK.
Jeff Clause (CEO at St Francis Links) joined me both days and he’s a fun guy to play with. Cuan and Geoffrey joined me the first day, great guys and I had a very enjoyable game with them. It was a tight game with Jeff shooting a 78, Cuan an 82 (from back tee and his first game after a three month injury), Geoffrey an 83 and myself an 81.
Connie (from Germany and also a member at Fancourt) and the multiple German Champion Hans-Hubert Giesen joined Jeff and me on the second day. Hans celebrated his birthday on this day and Jeff had arranged some very nice birthday treats on the 5th and 17th tee – well done. Another very enjoyable experience – Thanks.
Oh yes, I scored a 78 on the second day. 38 on the front nine and 40 on the back. Didn’t strike the ball that well, but the score ended up OK. Just one of those weird days with a good result.
St Francis Links is a tremendous links course and what enhance the experience even more is the people at St Francis Links. It’s a very welcoming friendly family atmosphere with a very professional touch. – excellent.
The entire set up at St Francis Links is a very enjoyable and memorable experience; superb links course, great people, facilities and lodge accommodation.
The village St Francis Bay is charming and very unique. Lovely beaches and if you are a surfer, you’ll find “Bruce’s Beauties” – “Home of the perfect wave”. I’m not a surfer but I do have the surf movie “Endless summer” that was partly filmed here - great lifestyle movie.
In short, St Francis Links is the place to visit and I can guarantee a great experience. This is a place that I will return to again and again.
Many Thanks to Jeff Clause and his team that made my experience very special.
St Francis Links - 5th December 2011
St Francis Links - 6th December 2011