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Fate of Normandy Oaks Golf Course Discussed: Close It? Sell It?

The financial viability of the golf course is simply unsustainable, according to City Manager Don Johnson.

Royal Oak High School uses Normandy Oaks for its golf teams. Credit: Judy Davids
Royal Oak High School uses Normandy Oaks for its golf teams. Credit: Judy Davids
Normandy Oaks Golf Course, one of Royal Oak's two nine-hole municipal golf courses, may not open this summer.

City Manager Don Johnson told members of the Royal Oak City Commission he will recommend they approve the closing the golf course this year.

Johnson made his announcement at Saturday's strategic planning session as part of his presentation on parks and recreation goals and planning. The financial viability of the golf course is simply unsustainable, he said.

"If we open, we'll probably have to subsidize it," Johnson said. "The long-term decision we have to make is whether we sell it."

The city manager described golf as a dying sport that is not embraced by the younger generation. 

"The plus is there is probably the potential to bring in from its sale enough to complete everything in our our parks and recreation master plan," Johnson said.

The $6.7 million master plan includes a splash park and community center with a pool, said Stewart Meek, assistant to the city manager.

"It includes pretty much everything people asked for, except for a downtown park," Meek said.

The value of the golf course is somewhere in the neighborhood of $14-18 million, according to Johnson.

"The greater density allowed, the more it's worth," Johnson said.

"If you sell (Normandy Oaks) and the result is world-class municipal parks as a result...that is major," said Royal Oak Commissioner Sharlan Douglas.

Should the city close Normandy Oaks this summer it will have to decide whether or not to maintain it as a golf course or simply keep it from being an eyesore.

The city has a provision in its ordinances that states the land has to be maintained for recreation use, according to the city manager.

"The only way we could do anything else or sell it would be to put it on the ballot," Johnson said.

Mayor Jim Ellison reminded staff that Normandy Oaks is used by Royal Oak High School golf teams.

"When they find out we're going to close it, they are going to be in trouble and we need to be prepared to have an answer," Ellison said.

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kpn January 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM
-Give us a course worth playing would be the first effort to get more folks out. Normandy has always been the red headed step child. RO Golf Course has been on a decline as well the past several years time to pick it up over there also. -Make it a RO City Center with a pool, athletic fields, ample parking, state of the art gym and weight room. Membership fee to belong, etc. City residents only and make sure to police those efforts to keep the place desirable.
The Duke of Royal Oak January 22, 2014 at 02:43 PM
Once you sell a park or golf course you cannot get it back. If the city commissioners would stop micro managing the downtown and yes, there is more to ROYAL OAK than the downtown, perhaps this selling off city assets would stop. It is obvious that the reason the golf course is under utilized is because of POOR management. There has been a management problem at Normandy Oaks the past few years. The lack of leadership by the city commission on this issue is unacceptable. How about cross country skiing in the winter???? Think outside the box commissioners!
The Duke of Royal Oak January 22, 2014 at 02:46 PM
With the up and coming retiring baby boomers and the recommendations by the medical community of more physical activity, I feel the city leadership is uninformed and ignorant of current information. Please get with it city leaders and stop the SELL OFF mentality!
Laura Harrison January 22, 2014 at 11:13 PM
Duke, great idea. They had cross country at the 13 Mile course about 25 years ago. Great exercise! And the equipment could be rented. I think it fell off when we had a couple mild winters. The city could sure cash in this winter. And they could add an ice rink. there is enough room.
Bob January 23, 2014 at 09:17 AM
I would rather keep all the parks and eliminate one of the two city owned golf courses. Why do we have two?

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