Digging deep into the past for this review. I’ve played the West course at Norwood Hills on a few occasions, but not in fifteen years since missing the cut in the 2003 Missouri Amateur Stroke Play Championship. I’m sure some subtle to moderate changes have been made since that time, but I’m quite sure it’s still a solid test of golf on what is a beautiful, rolling piece of property in north St. Louis County. I’ve also played the East course once much longer ago, and I remember it being a short and fun test of golf as a complement to the championship West. The West course has also been in the news very recently as host of the 2018 USGA Women’s Mid Amateur, won by Shannon Johnson.
The greens on the course are quite memorable. Most are very large, several have multiple tiers, and all are in impeccable condition. As is common in the region, the fairways are zoysia, and can get spongy when it rains, but when the course is firm there are not many better tests of golf in Missouri. The interesting greens and bunkering along with the varying terrain prevent some of the less excitingly routed holes from feeling “weak” or out of place, leading me to declare Norwood as one of the most enjoyable courses I’ve played in the St. Louis area. In particular, the par fours are the course’s strength; the only par five I remember well was the roller-coster #2, and the par threes vary in distance but can be somewhat bland other than #4, which plays over a pond.
Other memorable holes (i.e., the ones I actually remember well): #3, a fun little par four routed along a plateau with bunkers on both sides, #5, a long, uphill par four along a meandering creek to a smallish green, #9, a par four that plays over a valley to a green tucked against the hillside and cut tight on the false front, #11, a very narrow but driveable par four with out-of-bounds right and a tiny front-to-back sloping green, #13, an uphill par four with an approach over a valley to a huge green with several distinct tiers, and #17, another long par four (see the theme?) winding its way uphill through a valley to yet another two-tier green.
Played July 31, 1999 and July 20, 23, & 24th, 2003
Date: October 14, 2018