Jack Nicklaus Signature Course

The magnificent Jack Nicklaus Designed Course boasts a minimum of four tee locations per hole for the improving or experienced golfer to the aspiring professional. Every golfer will be advised to play from the tee location that best suits their play. Our friendly starters will be there to share some insight and advice for first-times. Mr Nicklaus was blessed to find the land created by nature to design his championship course. The tees are not artificially perched above the playing areas and the holes follow the terrain provided. For that reason, the first round needs to be a “sighter” to get the feel of the land. From there onwards, your knowledge and course management will improve with every round.

When it comes to judging a course for the golfing challenges and rewards it provides, certain criteria are used to set great courses apart from the rest. In our case, Mr Nicklaus used the fabric that was provided and weaved a layout through the dunes in such a way that no two holes are alike - most are removed entirely from each other. Every club in your bag will be used when you play the tees that best suit your game. The four, par-5’s are to be respected and only challenged in two when conditions allow for a shorter approach. The greens were designed for a shorter approach shot and have smaller targets than the longer 3’s and 4’s. The par-3’s also offer a variety of shots with each playing in a different direction with multiple tees that are all used in the varying course set-ups. The par-4’s feature some shorter, risk and reward holes like 5, 8 and 12 with challenging tests and longer approaches on the card for the remainder. Every hole is a picture and no one hole is considered to be a signature - you pick your favorite. Welcome to this exceptional course … play at least two rounds … you will love it!


Hole Explorer

Hole 1 Hole 1 - 'Milkwood' Par 4 (376, 327, 287, 259 Metres, Stroke 5) The Signature Tree, never to be touched. The Milkwood is protected throughout the course and the development. Play over her, under her or around her. If you try to play through her, she will win she always does! PGA Director of Golf, Jeff Clause, tells you how to play this hole and the other fantastic 17....

Enjoy the walk (or the ride) and remember his most valuable advice, Every great shot begins with a smile, play one shot at a time! The opening hole at St Francis Links teases the eye more than the golf swing. This relatively short par 4 turns left and plays uphill past the blowout bunker on the left. There is plenty of room left and right driver here may not be necessary. Make sure you account for the uphill and the prevailing wind when playing to the green. Your safe start is a miss to the right, a chip and a putt!
How to play this hole
Hole 2 Hole 2 - 'Which Way?' Par 4 (383, 363, 328, 286 Metres, Stroke 3) In true links fashion, you arrive at the tee and guess where to aim. My advice? Take the driver over the aiming pole and the left corner of the bush. Shorter hitters should aim at the bush on the left. When I arrived on the tee for the first time, I looked almost 270 degrees before I found the hole! The dune and another blowout distort the shot-making picture here. If you know your own length, carrying the dune and the bush will bring huge rewards. Shorter hitters stay left, lay-up and pitch your third. Longer hitters should let it fly. Trust me, there is plenty of fairway over the dune. How to play this hole Hole 3 Hole 3 - 'Perfect Fit' Par 5 (537, 511, 473, 450 Metres, Stroke 7) The first of the four fantastic par 5s, the green was designed and placed "perfectly" between the bushes and dunes take dead aim. Mr. Nicklaus designed this hole simply by letting the land dictate the play. The little target bunker through the fairway on the left is the perfect line from the tee. Again, the landing area is generous for the average length player, but narrows at the bunker for the longer hitter. Unless you really "creamed it" off the tee, lay up to another wide and safe zone short of the approach bunkers +/- 100m from the green. It is from there that you will see why the hole got its name. The green is placed perfectly between the bush-covered dune behind and the bunkers and bushes to the left. Trust your swing and walk away with your first birdie. This is where the great man got his first one, too! Oh! At 66 years young, Mr. Nicklaus launched a drive from the back tees (about 330 yards), knocked his second to 10m from the green, hit a little bump and run near the pin and casually rolled it in. You should've been there on Opening DAY! How to play this hole Hole 4 Hole 4 - 'Double Vision' Par 3 (159 - 107 Metres, Stroke 17) The first time golfer will only see the green with the flagstick. How is this for some par 3 double vision! Whether you are playing from the back tee to the front green OR the front tee to the back green, this is truly one great par three. one for the memory books. Another Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Desert Highlands, Geronimo in Arizona features large greens with two flagsticks and in some cases, two greens for the same hole. Number 4 at SFL offers two great shot-making options. Allow for the prevailing wind when playing the bottom green; when it comes from the west, those greenside bunkers get pretty big! When playing to the top, take an extra club - it carries all the way and the green surface is a lot bigger that it looks. How to play this hole Hole 5 Hole 5 - 'Braveheart' Par 4 (324, 310, 239, 233 Metres, Stroke 15) The best views on the course and with the wind, the best chance to make a one on a par 4! WOW!!! Get the camera out better yet, get the video out and take a 360 degree shot from the upper tee! After the photo shoot with your friends, refocus on the golf and make a decision take driver (Braveheart) and have a go at greatness! The safer play is a long iron or fairway club up the well-bunkered fairway, leaving a short iron to the postage stamp green. Why take the driver BECAUSE YOU CAN! Keep in mind the word CAN, in this case, may not refer to ability just decision-making. Dont waste a great birdie opportunity by being TOOOOOO Brave! How to play this hole Hole 6 Hole 6 - 'Checkmate' Par 5 (529, 487, 453, 416 Metres, Stroke 11) In the game of chess, you plan ahead and set up your next move plan ahead here or Checkmate! Position is everything at this hole. If you are a shorter hitter, just take clubs that you trust and play to the wider landing areas 3-wood, 5-iron, 9-iron and wedge. It may take you four shots to get home but thats why you have a handicap! Longer hitters may take on the bunker complex on the right carry it with a draw and you may find yourself in position to have a go. The best approach to this shallow green is from 60 to 100 meters from the green. Get to the 2nd aiming pole and play a lofted club that will hold the small green and thank me after the round. How to play this hole Hole 7 Hole 7 - 'Wetland' Par 3 (174, 164, 143, 110 Metres, Stroke 13) Check out the fowl after you are on dry land your birds will come with a positive picture. Its getting better by the hole and now you are challenged by the 2nd of the four par 3s and the first with water in the picture. I remember years ago when PGA TOUR Champion, Lanny Wadkins (a great long iron player) gave some great advice in a junior clinic that I was hosting. He said when you have to go over a hazard, water or bunker, to pick a target above and behind your intended landing area it will take your mind and eyes off and above the perceived problem. That is good advice here as you need to carry the water and the bunker to put a smile on your dial. The green is deeper than it looks (22m) and will accept your longer club. The conservative play is to the right, chip and putt! Where's your camera when you need it? How to play this hole Hole 8 Hole 8 - 'Eye of the Needle' Par 4 (373, 313, 259, 245 Metres, Stroke 9) Stand on the tee here and choose accuracy over aggression. Keep the Blinkers on. I often refer to attitude when addressing how to play. The eighth hole is beautifully placed between two dunescapes. It is, however, the tightest driving hole on the course. The good news is that it is not that long. So, put the driver away put the 3-wood away take out a rescue wood or long iron and put your ball in play. This is not a Hero hole and it has achieved the stroke rating of 9 simply because too many people have been too aggressive. Save you big drive for the 9th as you will need it there! How to play this hole Hole 9 Hole 9 - 'Pure' Par 4 (416, 398, 380, 315 Metres, Stroke 1) The defining word for St Francis Links is Pure and this pure par 4 calls for distance and decision making. Take par and run. After playing (and surviving) the tee shot on the eighth, you now see the biggest landing area so far and a sign of whats to come. You need the driver here as this is also the longest par 4 on the front nine. The well-bunkered green runs away from you, from left to right. If a long club is required for your approach to the green, rather lay up (and well back, to allow for a shot that you can apply some spin). Go in for three. Mr. Nicklaus has created a wide second landing area for the shorter hitter. How to play this hole Hole 10 Hole 10 - 'Up and Down' Par 4 (357, 321, 290, 258 Metres, Stroke 10) Up the hill and down to the green. Stay high on the hill and factor the fall to the green. Mr. Nicklaus is really good about rewarding the player that challenges the hole™. If you drive the ball to the left side, you will have a clearer and shorter approach to the green. There is plenty of room to the right, as well. If this is your first hole of the day or you have just polished off a homemade pie at Halfway, take the safer line to the right of the aiming pole and accept the longer approach to this perfectly positioned green. How about that amphitheatre! He has dropped the green down into the dune face creating a natural bowl (great for watching the tournaments golf that will come to St Francis Links). How to play this hole Hole 11 Hole 11 - 'Eish!' Par 4 (421, 394, 336, 286 Meters, Stroke 2) Pronounced AYE SH in the native tongue, meaning WOW. When you first see the green and surrounds, your first thought will be EISH! Everything about this hole is big big dunes left and right all the way to a big green; a big tee shot will leave you perfectly placed to play into the green, which sits above what Mr. Nicklaus refers to as an ADAP™ - "as deep as possible" - hollow left of the green. The EISH exclamation refers to the view of the hole and the backdrop of the village and sea when you get to the turn in the fairway photo time, again! How to play this hole Hole 12 Hole 12 - 'Illusion' Par 4 (347, 324, 263, 224 Meters, Stroke 16) Before the course was open and there were no flagsticks, this green was lost in the dunes. There is 30m between the Illusion and the bunkers trust your club! When Jack Nicklaus played this hole on Opening Day, I asked him his thoughts about designing holes where you dont see the bottom of the flagstick. He quipped, with a fairway this wide, you need a little mystery! This is my favourite hole on the back nine, because it fits so nicely between the natural dunes on the left and right. You can bang it™ off the tee and get a birdie reward with good distance control on your second. It may look like an Illusion™ as the green sits between the bunkers front and back but there is PLENTY of room in between. Thats why I like it!!! You will too. How to play this hole Hole 13 Hole 13 - 'Bear Claws' Par 5 (495, 460, 409, 359 Meters, Stroke 12) Originally, this name for this great par 5 was GO BIG. Now, named after the man himself, it is simply majestic! You have now played 12 holes of PURE LINKS. Now you get to experience LINKS PLUS! The next three holes feature water on the left. The 46m wetland is a sanctuary for the areas bird life and a catchment for wayward shots. Many have chosen the 13th as their favourite. It's easy to see why. Mr. Nicklaus has added water to links in such a way that its like adding dressing on a salad, cheese on a burger or chutney on a Worsie (not bad for an American South African by choice). Stay left off the tee and safely to the right on your second. Birdies, and even eagles, here, will come to those who take the challenge. How to play this hole Hole 14 Hole 14 - 'Get Up' Par 3 (166, 143, 129, 111 Meters, Stroke 14) The name simply reflects the fact that most golfers choose a club based on the best they have ever hit it. Think about it... This may have been the easiest hole to name on the course for obvious reasons! It's not the distance that presents the mental and physical problems; it's the prevailing winds. There is usually a breeze into you. You must factor the wind into your club selection. The name GET UP™ can be heard after almost every swing! Take more club and commit to the swing. How to play this hole Hole 15 Hole 15 - 'Top Shelf' Par 4 (432, 393, 368, 330 Meters, Stroke 8) To get home on this big par 4, you must play to the left on the top shelf! I am not promoting a trip to Mexico for a famous Margarita. You can go to Fat Cactus in Cape Town and order a TOP SHELF and get one equally as good. While I am giving them a FREE ad, I'll tell you that the food is equally as good as the drink! As far as golf is concerned, this par-4 is top shelf by definition. Its a great hole that requires a well-positioned tee shot to the left and on the top shelf. From there, the large green target is only the second challenge. Nothing here is easy going.The hogback design of the green forces you to attack the flagstick or risk another dreaded three putt. It looks easier than it plays stroke-4 for good reason! How to play this hole Hole 16 Hole 16 - 'Split Image' Par 5 (572, 519, 480, 442 Meters, Stroke 2) After getting your drive in position, the fun begins. From there you still have a great par-4 to play. ALL GOLF Pards! The 630 yard Par-5 is one big golf hole from the back tees. Fortunately, not many of you should be playing from there. From the club tees, the white tees and the forward tees, options await you. A Tiger Line down the left side may put the longest hitter in position to go for the green by keeping his shot left of the creek. The wider and safer play is to the right aiming pole and a three-shot play to the green. This stroke-4 tester will offer the best result by playing into the green from 80-100m out; this will put you in a position to play a high-flying approach. How to play this hole Hole 17 Hole 17 - 'St Francis Bay' Par 3 (195, 179, 169, 136 Meters, Stroke 16) The best little view on the course, with the town part of the pretty picture. Thanks, Jack! What a finishing Par-3! It truly is a tribute to the village below, with the town forming part of the backdrop. The design of the green is quite a discussion item (during the Opening round, Mr. Nicklaus stopped everything to have another look at the final shape). The pin placements are only available on the bottom, back left portion of the putting surface, as the front and right sides tilt severely to the left and back.This feature is by design and adds a little luck to the outcome of the tee shot that strays to the right. On the day, Jack thought maybe there was too much pitch and asked that we monitor its performance willing to soften it, if necessary. When he rolled some balls from the front of the green to test it, they all moved toward the hole. I rather liked that and commented that Hole-in-Ones are a good thing. I wasn't far wrong, as the first one came on our Members first day of play.Three more have followed will you be next? How to play this hole Hole 18 Hole 18 - 'Homeward Bound' Par 4 (405, 383, 362, 318 Meters, Stroke 6) This great finish allows you to play a great approach after a perfect drive. Sink the putt and tip your cap to you friends above! No, this is not a Simon and Garfunkel song. It's simply a perfect finish to a perfect day that probably included every club in your bag. Links golf always involves some mystery, some deception and encourages plenty of imagination. The final par-4 is a dogleg left playing into a smallish target that angles uphill from left to right. Factor the uphill by almost always adding another club to the distance remaining. The natural target from the tee is the last bunker left. Hug the water and leave yourself a much shorter second. When you finish, shake hands and go to the Golf Shop for a souvenir book again for tomorrow, and have another go at greatness! Thanks for coming and playing another South African treasure. How to play this hole