Review: Normandy Shoes Golf Course, Miami FL

The South Beach Day Life
When you think of South Beach Miami the first thing that comes to mind is the night life; rightly so, it is legendary.  But during the day it is nice to enjoy other activities.  If you are a golfer visiting or living near South Beach there are only a couple close options for golf.  One of them is Normandy Shores.  It is just a few minutes north of the heart of South Beach on its own little quite island of Normandy.

It sounds like I played on a pretty typical January Monday in Miami.  The sun was shining, it was 75* and there was a good breeze coming off the ocean.  There were a dozen or so players on the course, so not busy by any means.  While it is a municipal course, but don’t expect municipal prices.  Like everything else in South Beach, it isn’t cheap.  But with the recent renovation by Arthur Hills, a new clubhouse and new grass, it is a top notch muni.    The practice facilities are small but adequate.  The putting green is big and replicates the course very nicely, while the driving range is on the small side and you hit into the prevailing winds.

The first hole is one the harder ones on the course.  It isn’t a super long par 4, but at 410 yards typically playing dead into the wind, it is a solid opening hole.  As you reach the green you get feel of what the rest of the greens will be like since the Arthur Hills renovation.  They are slightly raised/mounded and have decent undulation.  After the first couple holes into the wind, you meander through the front nine and notice the yardage differences on holes playing down wind and into the wind.  If you just look at the scorecard, you might find it strange how long and how short the par 4s are on the front side, with few in that normal 400yard range.  It is a mixture of scoring opportunities and disasters waiting on just about every hole.  There is water on 12 of the 18 holes.  Some of the water, because of the level nature of the course is semi-blind.  For a first time golfer at Normandy Shores check the yardage book or scorecard to make sure you know where the danger is.

My round with Fernando (South Florida Golf Magazine Editor) was interrupted by his illness, so the back 9 I would be flying solo.  While it begins kind of tame, the collection of holes from 11-14 were excellent.  This stretch starts with a beast of a hole, number 11.  It isn’t the longest par 4 on the course, but it plays tough into the wind, narrow landing area and really tricky green, fronted by water.  The 12th is another great hole; a short par 4 with bunkering and mounding can either reward or punish.  The 13th is a short dogleg right, but really a fun hole.  The stretch ends with a short par 3 down wind;  club selection is vital.  The last par 3 on the course, hole 17 is really tough.  It plays long, 240 yards, and into the wind.  I hit driver and still barely reached the green.  The home hole 18 is a strong finishing hole that really takes a couple of good pokes to get home in 2, but down wind helps.

While the course isn’t right on the ocean, the ocean breezes or water (ponds) do come into play in every hole.  I was most impressed by the excellent conditions at Normandy Shores.  You would not have thought that is was a muni.  The greens, fairways and tee boxes were in top shape.  So if you visit South Beach for the nightlife and are looking for something to do during the day, check out Normandy Shores.

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Quick Hits
+Close to South Beach
+Public Course w/excellent conditions
+Excellent staff
+Well designed for prevailing winds

–Small practice facilities
–No spectacular views