Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Course architects: Robert Foulis and James Foulis
Yardage | Rating / Slope: 6,534 yards | 71.4 / 129
Saturday morning green fee: $ (Under $50)
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Starter: The club bills itself as the oldest public golf course still in operation in its original location west of the Mississippi River. Some might argue that multi-layered claim, but no one can question the old-school flavor of a course celebrating its 117th birthday. This is not a home run hitting contest. The grounds are about shot-making and strategy, uncomfortable stances, blind shots, tricky greens and all the up-and-down movement that might be expected from century-old architecture. It starts with a hard-nosed par 4, ends with a demanding par 3 and features lots of twists and turns in between. No frills, just chills.
Play because … : Babe Ruth and Dizzy Dean played here, which is reason enough, right? More than that, it’s a good example of how design doesn’t have to be bold and intrusive to create a challenging and intriguing test.
Takeaway: Time has not been kind to the surrounding neighborhood, now a tired and somewhat-unsavory part of town. What’s more, St. Louis summers and municipal play can be tough on condition and maintenance. But when considering the course designers had Old Tom Morris as their mentor, the people who have played here, the history and simple charm, Normandie should be on the “must” list.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 5.0
Pro shop: 3.0
Pace of play: 7.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 18 (250 | 241 | 181 yards). The tee shot calls for a hybrid downhill to a relatively small green. If you’re playing a close match, close your eyes and pray. This finishing hole can make or break your day, one of the most difficult par 3s in St. Louis.
Best par 4: No. 1 (446 | 365 | 275 yards). You don’t want to show up half-asleep when you play Normandie, because the first shot you hit will be one of the more difficult shots you hit. This classic uphill par 4 has trees lining both sides and requires a well-struck, well-placed drive if you are to have a reasonable chance of reaching the green in regulation. No such thing as easing into the round at Normandie, but a par here is a terrific start.
Best par 5: No. 7 (572 | 490 | 441 yards). A majestic, difficult hole that will require three shots to reach the green - and at least two of them will be blind. The hole bends to the right and sends your tee ball down into a valley. The next shot is uphill and blind to plateau, where the green comes into view 125 yards out. If your second shot doesn’t reach the plateau, the third shot will be blind, as well.
Rater: Dan O'Neill