Thatchwood Country Lodge - 4 Star Accommodation

Thatchwood Country Lodge - Golfing

Thatchwood is ideally located in between 2 golf courses, so if you are a golfer we will be happy to make your golf bookings for you. We can offer you special rates on both courses.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay LinksSt Francis Bay Links

In the early 14th century, either in the eastern Lothians of Scotland or maybe in the Netherlands where the game was called Kalvin, the game of golf began.

The Links land was the marginal land lying between the beaches and the arable fields, and only good for grazing of sheep and rabbits and the bleaching of cloth.

Open to the elements, wind and rain, the game was played on the links grasses between the dunes and the bush.

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.


Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 1
Hole 1 - Milkwood
Par 4 (376, 327, 287, 259 Metres, Stroke 7)

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!

How to Play this Hole…
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!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links 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 advise? Take the driver over the “aiming pole” and the left corner of the bush…

How to Play this Hole…
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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 3
Hole 3 - Perfect Fit
5 (537, 511, 473, 450 Metres, Stroke 13)
The first of the four par 5s, the green was laid perfectly between the bushes and dunes - take dead aim…

How to Play this Hole…
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!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 4
Hole 4 - Double Vision
Par 3 (192 - 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’!

How to Play this Hole…
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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 5
Hole 5 - Braveheart
4 (341, 324, 310, 302 Metres, Stroke 15)
The best views on the course and with the wind, the best chance to make a one on a par 4!

How to Play this Hole…
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. Don’t waste a great birdie opportunity by being TOOOOOO Brave!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 6
Hole 6 - Checkmate
Par 5 (529, 487, 453, 416 Metres, Stroke 5)
In the game of chess, you plan ahead and set up your next move - plan ahead here or … Checkmate!

How to Play this Hole…
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 that’s 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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 7
Hole 7 - Wetland
Par 3 (174, 164, 143, 110 Metres, Stroke 11)
Check out the fowl after you are on dry land - your birds will come with a positive picture

How to Play this Hole…
It’s getting better by the hole… and now you are challenged by the 2nd of the four par 3’s 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?

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links 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

How to Play this Hole…
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 3 simply because too many people have been too aggressive. Save you big drive for the 9th as you will need it there!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 9
Hole 9 - Pure
Par 4 (416, 398, 380, 315 Metres, Stroke 1)
The defining word for St Franics Links is Pure and this pure par 4 calls for distance and decision making. Take par and run

How to Play this Hole…
After playing (and surviving) the tee shot on the eighth, you now see the biggest landing area so far and a sign of what’s 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.

If you want to have a go at the green, take enough club to carry the bunkers that guard the front. This will be the difference between “enjoying” a cool drink at halfway and “requiring” something to help you forget the past!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 10
Hole 10 - Up and Down
Par 4 (357, 321, 290, 258 Metres, Stroke 12)
How to Play this Hole…
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).

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 11
Hole 11 - Eish!
Par 4 (421, 394, 336, 258 Meters, Stroke 2)
Pronouned “AYE SH” in the native tongue, meaning WOW. When you first see the green and surrounds, your first thought will be EISH!

How to Play this Hole…
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!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 12
Hole 12 - Illusion
Par 4 (405, 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!

How to Play this Hole…
When Jack Nicklaus played this hole on Opening Day, I asked him his thoughts about designing holes where you don’t 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. That’s why I like it!!! You will too.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 13
Hole 13 - Bear Claws
Par 5 (495, 460, 409, 359 Meters, Stroke 18)
Originally, this name for this great par 5 was “GO BIG”. Named after the man himself, it is simply majestic!

How to Play this Hole…
You have now played 12 holes of PURE LINKS. Now you get to experience LINKSPLUS! The next three holes feature water on the left. The 46m wetland is a sanctuary for the area’s 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 it’s 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 here will come to those who take the challenge.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links 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

How to Play this Hole…
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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links 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!

How to Play this Hole…
I am not promoting a trip to Mexico for a famous Marguarita. 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. It’s 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!

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 16
Hole 16 - Split Image
Par 5 (572, 519, 480, 442 Meters, Stroke 4)
After getting your drive in position, the fun begins. From there you still have a great par-4 to play. ALL GOLF…Pards!

How to Play this Hole…
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 postion 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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links Hole 17
Hole 17 - St Francis Bay
Par 3 (195, 179, 169, 136 Meters, Stroke10)
The best little view on the course, with the town part of the pretty picture. Thanks, Jack

How to Play this Hole…
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 suface, 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 perfomance…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 Member’s first day of play. Three more have followed…will you be next?

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Links 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!

How to Play this Hole…
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.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Golf ClubSt Francis Bay Golf Club is renowned country-wide for its warm hospitality and a great club spirit, which has been the essence of the club over the years, and continues to grow. For all golfers, especially those visiting the Eastern Cape in South Africa, the opportunity to visit St Francis Bay Golf Club for a couple of rounds should not be missed.

The origins of the St Francis Bay Golf Club date back toSt Francis Bay Accommodation | St Francis Bay Guest Houses | St Francis Bay Lodge | Thatchwood Country Lodge 1975 when Leighton Hulett opened a 9 hole private golf course. Since then, many exciting changes have taken place and today our 18 hole coastal golf course compares favourably with the best courses on offer in the Cape.

Our invitation to you now and in the future...come and enjoy the feel of our links course nestled in between the unique architecture of the village of St Francis Bay. The moderate length of the course will ensure a pleasurable game for the average golfer, yet provide the challenge of "thinking golf" for those wishing to break par 71. Our par 71 course includes five par 3's and is destined to become the best 18 hole holiday course in the Eastern Cape.

Thatchwood Country Lodge - St Francis Bay Golf Club