ST FRANCIS BAY (Eastern Cape) – As St Francis Links prepares to host its first Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament with this month’s SDC Championship, the focus is on presenting a golf course that is “as playable as it is beautiful”.
That’s the vision St Francis Links CEO, Jeff Clause, and his team have for when this Jack Nicklaus Signature Course hosts the most global tournament in its history with the $1.5 million SDC Championship from 16-19 March.
“We’ve spent 16-and-a-half years now trying to make this a golf course that’s as playable as it is beautiful. The golf course is ready,” Clause says of a course that was voted South Africa’s Best New Course in 2007 and which is currently ranked fourth in the country.
St Francis Links has already established itself as a championship venue through its hosting of several tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, and more recently as the home of the prestigious South African PGA Championship.
“We’ve hosted everything from junior golf tournaments to women’s senior tournaments and everything in between. For the past two years we’ve hosted the South African PGA Championship which we wanted to associate with because of its history and standing in South African golf,” says Clause.
“The fit with SDC (Skills Development Corporation) is perfect for us because that’s what we have in our future here as well. We’re looking to create more facilities here for skills development. This tournament is a match in a lot of different ways. We want to use this opportunity to show off our area within the Kouga Local Municipality. We’re a golfing, surfing, hiking, cycling, boating and fishing mecca and we want to attract more people. This tournament will do that for us.”
Nestled on a hill overlooking the picturesque seaside village of St Francis Bay, Clause predicts that St Francis Links should be a challenging but fair test for this field.
“Every hole here offers everything, and we’ll have a good variety of par-three shots in particular. We’ve made a few small changes here and there. But we also know what Mother Nature can do at this golf course. If we get a bit of wind this golf course will be formidable from any tee and any pin placement. March weather is generally a bit more passive and then there will be a lot of birdies and opportunities out there.
“The golfer who can manage his ball around this golf course and keeps his ball in play will be right up there in the end.”