Geared up with a narrative, a video and a proposition, St. Louis native Tom O’Toole Jr. sat down for lunch with Jack Nicklaus final November at The Bears Membership in Florida.

The imaginative and prescient he offered was for the Normandie Golf Membership, which has confronted an unsure future for years, together with one try to show the 117 acres on St. Charles Rock Street into townhouses.

O’Toole, a neighborhood lawyer and former president of the USA Golf Affiliation, was asking loads. He not solely needed Nicklaus and his firm to revamp the 120-year-old course, however for the legendary golfer to throw his backing into fundraising for the mission.

“I had an iPad with a video, and I flipped it open after he stated he appreciated it,” O’Toole stated. “He stated, ‘Tommy, you don’t want to indicate it to me.’”

Nicklaus was on board to donate his time to a mission a number of years within the works. His involvement, introduced final week, makes the mission immediately viable with the hope that Normandie will grow to be a accomplished Jack Nicklaus signature course by spring or summer time of 2023.

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O’Toole satisfied Nicklaus not solely with the imaginative and prescient of giving new life to the course in Bel-Nor, however of offering a socio-economic increase for the neighborhood.

“The story is about greater than renovating a golf course,” O’Toole stated “It’s a neighborhood asset that’s under-utilized and deteriorating, and we retain that asset. It takes a golf course and makes use of it as a catalyst in the neighborhood for progress and social change.”

Normandie is a public course and can stay that approach. O’Toole envisions many strategies for involving youth within the space, beginning with a caddie program that already is within the works, and branching out to each space of the operation in addition to introducing youngsters in the neighborhood to the sport.

Nicklaus is also concerned in a few occasions related to the Ascension Charity Traditional at Norwood Hills Nation Membership in September, lending his identify and energy to an occasion that may elevate cash for youth organizations within the space.

“The attraction of this mission to me was to be concerned in an effort that might function a catalyst to alter wanted in our nation immediately, starting with components of St. Louis County,” Nicklaus stated in a press release. “Restoring Normandie for a neighborhood in want can have a long-lasting optimistic impression on the lives of youth in St. Louis.”

Normandie will stay open this summer time as efforts start towards elevating cash and a projected begin on work by the top of this 12 months. The course has been operated by Walters Golf Administration for about 15 years, and Walters chairman Jeff Smith stated a significant overhaul has been lengthy overdue.

“I don’t know if I’d say it’s on life assist, nevertheless it’s comparatively ailing,” he stated. “That is to final one other 100 years. The truth that Jack’s workforce is donating their providers spells how essential he thinks the mission is.”

The redesign not solely entails the course however new placing greens, irrigation for retention and detention of water, new grass, a clubhouse and a upkeep facility, amongst different issues. O’Toole stated the course has not had tree work carried out in about 50 years and certain wants a pair hundred thousand {dollars} for that alone.

O’Toole bought to know Nicklaus throughout his years as president of the USGA. That can also be the interval when he was approached about doing one thing at Normandie, which is within the strategy of being bought from the College of Missouri-St. Louis.

The cope with Nicklaus contains involvement of the Metropolitan Golf Affiliation and Past Housing, a neighborhood growth group that addresses challenges within the communities of the Normandy Faculty District.

Nicklaus Design has been concerned within the creation or renovation of lots of of golf programs world wide. Nevertheless, as a public course, Normandie is not going to carry the kind of charges related to lots of these programs. And he’s anticipated to be straight concerned in a lot of the work.

“There are every kind of necessities to place his identify on it,” O’Toole stated. “He’ll log off on the entire course design. He’ll come right here and work with the lead designer earlier than the ultimate product. He’s the mind of the operation. He has the ultimate name on every thing.”

O’Toole was approached about renovating Normandie a number of years in the past when he was with the USGA. The discussions and negotiations went by means of many phases of ups and downs till issues solidified early final 12 months.

The pandemic, nevertheless, disrupted issues till O’Toole realized a major identify was wanted to get behind the trouble. He had been concerned with a number of initiatives involving Nicklaus throughout his tenure with the USGA, together with dedicating the Nicklaus wing of the USGA museum.

The friendship they developed opened a door for one thing large.

“Lots of people have professions and jobs and households, and most wish to have some inherent thought to present one thing again,” O’Toole stated. “It will likely be a part of the Nicklaus legacy.”

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