“True Links,” the excellent George Peper and Malcolm Campbell book that was first published in 2010, lists only 246 links golf courses worldwide and it features only one South African course, Humewood, a fine old layout established by Colonel Stafford Vere Hotchkin back in 1931.
The esteemed authors have, by their own admission, used very strict criteria when defining a “true” links course and it cuts no ice with them if a seaside layout (like, say Pebble Beach or Old Head) appends the term “ Golf Links” to its name – if it’s not a bona fide links in their eyes then it doesn’t warrant inclusion in the book.
Now the new St Francis Links course lies an hour’s drive along the coast from Humewood in Port Elizabeth and its owners obviously believe it to be a links course but Messrs Peper and Campbell think otherwise, citing an absence of bent and fescue grasses for its exclusion from their book.
In actual fact, the course at St Francis Bay lies a little inland from the coast and it displays many links traits with fairways laid out on rugged, tumbling, sandy terrain but – disconcertingly for some – substantial bodies of water have to be negotiated at several holes and stands of trees and clumps of bush are found throughout the property, all of which greatly impair the course’s claim that it’s an example of a pure links layout.Regardless of its exact definition, the Nicklaus-designed St Francis course offers as links-like a game of golf as you will experience anywhere on the continent of Africa – and even if it doesn’t quite tick every box to gain membership of the exclusive “true links club” it still offers enough to satisfy even the most hard to please links golfer.
December 08, 2012