Normandy Shores Golf Club – Miami Beach, Florida Guru's Rating: 7.3
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $120
Sometimes you pay for convenience. Example: when your bachelor party is on South Beach and you’ve been out until 5AM the night before, you don’t mind forking over $120 for a round of golf less than 15 minutes from your hotel. Normandy Shores Golf Club is one of just a handful of courses actually situated on “SoBe,” and its location alone is worth the relatively steep price. I would have loved some better scenery for $120, but the course itself is well-designed, well-maintained, and perfect when you’re recovering from the night before/need to get back to the pool or beach without wasting time on transit.
The golf club is based on Normandy Isles, a mini-island at the North end of the beach, and as you pull into the parking lot, you’ll notice the gorgeous Biscayne Bay to your left. Unfortunately, that’ll be your only look at the Bay – or any other natural bodies of water – for the next few hours. The course is ordinary in beauty, with its most striking views being the hi-rises of Miami, which lurk behind the clubhouse. There are some eyesores as well: slightly dilapidated apartment buildings line holes 10-13 and I’m pretty sure I saw a large crane (not the flying kind) behind the 11th green.
All that said, Normandy’s facilities are solid and well-planned, including a driving range within walking distance of the first tee, and a restaurant/halfway house that you can easily access at the turn. Another plus: the range balls were included in our greens fees. The staff was helpful and the pace of play brisk. A staffer in the Pro Shop informed us that if our round took more than four hours, “somebody must have died.” Well, our round took 4:15, but no ambulances showed up: we just were not very good.
Most Memorable Hole: Love everything about the ninth hole, a 450-yard par 4…from the narrow, pine tree-lined fairway, to the view of the city behind the picturesque clubhouse. There’s water on the left, which you cannot see from the tee box (I found out the hard way). The green, like so many at Normandy, is slick, runs off quickly, and is defended by three bunkers. Fun hole to play.
Most Challenging Hole: The wind and sloping greens can wreak havoc on even the best of golfers at Normandy Shores, and they really come into play on the fourth hole, Normandy’s #1 handicap. 465 yards from the tips, water on the left, fairway bunkers on the right. To make matters worse, the green offers a tiny target in the front and widens in the back, so you’ll likely end up short (in a collection area), or rolling off into Never Neverland.
The Bottom Line: If you’re visiting South Beach, first off, great job, I’m jealous. Second, if you’re itching to play golf and don’t mind dishing out a few extra shekels, you will enjoy the proximity and layout of Normandy Shores. Just don’t expect to be wowed by the views.
Guru’s Tip: This course did not fare well in the rain: it had poured the night before we played and our front nine was marred by puddles and mud. By the back, things had dried out a bit, but when you are out until 5 o’clock in the morning, the last thing you want to hear is “Cart Path Only.” Be forewarned in the event of preceding precipitation.