ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A massive renovation effort at the historic Normandie Golf Course has new backers. The Ascension Charity Classic is committing to the project.
Ascension Executive Vice President Nick Ragone says his group will invest in Normandie with financial contributions and upgrades. The course will become a qualifying course for the Ascension Charity Classic and an Advocates Professional Golf Association tournament.
Ragone's hope is by partnering with the historic North St. Louis County course the area becomes a model for struggling clubs around the country.
"We think revitalizing Normandie, investing in Charity Classic, investing in the APGA classic is going to create more diversity," Ragone said. "Someday we think that the game of golf is going to be more diverse and they are going to look at St. Louis for the model for it."
Normandie organizer and former president of the USGA Tom O'Toole shares that vision.
"Golf has had a mantra of being a sport that is exclusive, for people of wealth, we need to change that," O'Toole said. "We need to make the game more diverse. We need to make it more inclusive and that's what the Ascension Charity Classic is doing and that is what the strategy of this project is doing."
One of the key factors for Normandie is keeping it public and keeping it affordable. O'Toole says the course must stay in the community with rates consistent with the income levels of the people surrounding it.
Normandie will be a not-for-profit course. Organizers need to raise around $15-million-dollars to revitalize the grounds. When completed, Normandie will be a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
Normandie Golf Course is one of the oldest public golf courses west of the Mississippi. It was built in 1901.