St Francis Links: It's Our Birthday!

BY SUPPLIED - DECEMBER 9, 2014

On the 10th of December, 2006, the greatest golfer of all time and designer of more than 250 signature courses around the world, joined developers, Mike Wylie and Robbie Marshall on a special lift that rose above the deck and Clubhouse so they could address the 800+ members and guests who assembled for the official opening. That night was the start of something very special. Over the past eight years, we have survived a recession, three floods, a drought and welcomed more than two hundred thousand members, friends, guests and visitors to our great estate. We have hosted golf tournaments, weddings, birthday parties, conferences, wakes, bike rides and so, so much more!

Larry Gould, well-known writer, motivational speaker and former hotelier had this to say about St Francis Links as he prepared a piece for Compleat Golfer –

St Francis Links: Surpassing HIGH expectations as a habit!

By Larry Gould

Since its inception in December 2006, when Jack Nicklaus opened his newest Signature course, St Francis Links surprised the golfing public with the remarkable quality of the links-like atmosphere, among natural and majestic dunes, overlooking the charm and of St Francis Bay and its scenic surrounds.

At that time, the success of this golf destination was dependent on real estate sales and many wondered if the location, in the Eastern Cape, would provide enough demand for homes, either for holiday or permanent residents.

The endorsement given by Nicklaus of his design at St Francis Links has of course been a factor. Well documented already are his comments in 2006 and in April 2009.

the increase in overall subs and levies was only 4.5 % (R100/mo). Some of the reserves are invested in inflation beating portfolios.

Jack Nicklaus having presented his thoughts at the pre-launch dinner was questioned at the next day’s press conference, by a journalist who pointed out, “You (Mr Nicklaus) said last night this may be the best course you’ve ever done…. Nicklaus interrupted the gentleman by saying, “I didn’t say that: I said this may be the best course I’ve ever seen. That’s different. That’s better than the best I’ve ever done.”

In 2009, when questioned at an international press conference, “What’s the best piece of property you’ve ever worked with?”

Mr Nicklaus replied, “Properties are in many cases, location. If you have creativity you ought to be able to create what you want. The ability to create with sand gives you a lot more flexibility. Sebonak (Situated on 300 acres in Southampton, NY, and neighboring the historic National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills Golf Course) was one of those. St Francis Links in South Africa was one of those.”

Apart from Mr Nicklaus’ talent of embracing this remarkable location and maximizing its potential to perfection, St Francis Links has over the following years garnered major accolades for its personnel, the quality of residential buildings and its clubhouse and facilities.  It can also be proud of its estate management.

Now, in 2014, the success ‘off-course’ is reflected in 63 transfers occurring in 2013, followed by 17 completed homes in 2014 and currently 20 are pending. The financial stability shows in the 9M+ in reserves and after the best year to date, resulting in 20M turnover, giving both the club and the HOA another year where both were operating in profit. Add that this year

This surprising success is without doubt due to the excellent teams, inside the gates. The CEO Jeff Clause and his wife Liezl are already renowned both locally and internationally. Clause has among a bevy of local and international awards, has in 2014 received yet another award, being voted the PGA Professional of the year – Southern and Eastern Cape PGA. Liezl Clause, known as the Wedding Planner, has with her team, made St Francis Links recognized by the Bridal Industry as the best Club Reception, an accolade of true merit, as this is voted by the brides.

Mr Nicklaus, if he visited the best course he’s ever seen, would no doubt praise Charles Blaauw, the estate manager  whose dual purpose is as the Estate Maintenace Manager and Golf Course Superintendant results in everything working in order and the course never having looked better! To improve the golfer’s game, Justin Roux PGA professional provides insights, both techinical and mental on how to immediately improve your game – and probably how to play Links courses, sometimes in the wind!

Added to the service, the friendliness, and the professionalism throughout the property, the visitor, many who take advantage of staying in the on-site hotel or the various options of quality self-catering (member-owned) options, will look to enjoy off-course experiences.

Some will sensibly take time at the Aqua Spa, situated at the clubhouse, others will venture outside the gates.

Cruising on the canals, surfing at Bruce’s Beauties in St Francis Bay, walking on Sand River or  beach, Yachting, fishing, whale watching are all choices prior to returning for Chef Bradley’s excellent food at the Lighthouse Restaurant in the clubhouse. If it is curry evening – the resident home owners will testify – you just do not miss it!

Images supplied.