The historic Bel-Nor, Mo. course, one of the oldest public courses west of the Mississippi River, is owned by the University of Missouri-St. Louis and leased to Normandie 1901, LLC for $1 a year. “The efforts and energies put into maintaining the 118-year-old property and the required capital improvements have just become more significant than the business can sustain,” Normandie 1901, LLC said in a statement that indicated the university would now “work on a transition” and that the short- and long-term futures of the course have not yet been defined.
Historic Normandie Golf Course in Bel-Nor, Mo. could be nearing the end of operation unless a new operator is found, KSDK NBC 5 reported. Normandie is planning on closing for the winter season on January 13 and the present operator, Normandie 1901, LLC, has notified the owners of the course, The University of Missouri System, that it does not plan on continuing operation under the current lease.
C+RB reported on the university purchasing the course in 2014.
The interim chancellor of University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Normandie 1901, which leases the property for $1 a year, has backed out of the contract.
“I have requested that the University of Missouri System Real Estate Management Office create and distribute a request for proposal as quickly as possible—with a goal of leasing the course to another management firm this spring,” said Kristin Sobolik, in a letter January 3 to the community.
A Normandie 1901 LLC official stated in a release provided to KSDK that “The efforts and energies put into maintaining the 118-year-old property and the required capital improvements have just become more significant than the business can sustain.”
The release also stated that the “short- and long-term future of the golf course has not yet been defined and will be announced at a later date. The lessee and the lessor, the University are currently working on the transition.”
Normandie is one of the oldest public golf courses west of the Mississippi River, and has been in operation since 1901, KSDK reported. Normandie 1901, LLC said they are working on the system of refunding annual passes and pre-purchased rounds for 2020, and that purchasers can expect a refund prior to January 31.
In its heyday of the 1920s and ’30s, the course hosted St. Louis Cardinals players including Dizzy Dean, Rogers Hornsby and Pepper Martin who had homes nearby, the Post-Dispatch reported. Babe Ruth, Bob Hope and Babe Didrikson played there when they visited St. Louis.
UMSL bought the club for $1.4 million in January 2015. Sobolik told the Post-Dispatch she is “accelerating” discussions with potential partners about keeping Normandie afloat.
One previous plan for the course’s future was “recently dismissed by the university,” according to the message on the club’s website.
A coalition of business, golf and charity leaders called NormandieFore! unveiled their $20 million proposal in October 2018 to rebuild the club into a top public course and community center for the Normandy School District, the Post-Dispatch reported.
In her letter, Sobolik said the university’s continued interests in the golf course are part of a larger effort by University Square—a community development corporation that is headquartered at UMSL, the Post-Dispatch reported. Redevelopment plans for the area surrounding the campus include a $60 million, mixed-use development adjacent to the UMSL South MetroLink station.
Bel-Nor Mayor Bill Hook told the Post-Dispatch he hopes the Normandie property will not be redeveloped.
“We’re trying to stay close with UMSL, who actually holds all the cards right now,” Hook said. “Certainly our desire is to keep it a golf course in perpetuity if that can happen.”