Greg Norman turns 50

Greg Norman has turned 50, and is apparently going to play some Champions’ Tour events. I interviewed Norman last year and found it akin to speaking with a Fortune 500 CEO. Still, he’s a powerful force in the golf business.

Norman’s career designs extend beyond leaderboard: Thriving golf-related businesses keep him quite busy
By Robert Thompson

Though it may not be obvious to the average golf fan, *Greg Norman* is every bit as busy these days as he was when he carried the
title of No. 1 player on the PGA Tour.

It is just that Norman’s focus is less on driving golf balls and more about driving his businesses: clothing, residential development
and even wine.

But a big portion of that business is golf architecture. The two- time British Open champion was in Canada last week to scout a site
in Fernie, B.C., a project that will see him design a public golf course called Blackstone as part of a real estate development. It is
the third Canadian project to which Norman has attached his name (the other two are in Fort Erie, Ont., and Vancouver.)

“It is a magnificent site, one that doesn’t come along all that often,” he said in an interview. “It is a mixture of tough
topography with dark timber and valleys. A site like this is few and far between.”

Norman walked the site for the first time last week after flying up from Florida. While some PGA Tour players use golf course design as a marketing arrangement, for Norman it is a labour of love. Though he is contracted to be on site a certain number of times, Norman says he can show up more than 20 times on some jobs.

“I dedicate a lot of my time to it and I spend a lot of my time talking about different routings with my guys. But I’m very hands-on
and the most important part to me is seeing a virgin site. You get so much more out of it than simply looking at a map.”

While it is unusual to see a PGA Tour player venture away from traditional tour stops to see classic courses, Norman has toured
remote sites to witness the best golf has to offer. That means he has taken days out of his busy schedule to see rustic gems such as Scotland’s Machrihanish and Royal Dornoch.

That has led Norman to take a more natural approach to designing golf courses, something he expects to employ at Blackstone.

“It is a huge turn off to me when I hear about some guy moving two million yards of land to create a course. I want to work with the
least disturbance.”

The Shark has tried the minimal approach at Doonbeg, an Irish course that has seen its share of controversy.

“I like to see what was on the minds of classic designers and use some of that in my projects. Technology hasn’t made a lot of classic courses obsolete because of the factors that made them great in the first place.”

While his playing schedule has been cut significantly, Norman, 49, likes to remain competitive. That means he will play some events to get in shape for the British Open. It also means he’s considering coming to Oakville, Ont., in September to play the Canadian Open, an event he has won twice.

“That’s one of the things I’m trying to work out at the moment.”

Norman doesn’t understand why people think he should be playing more, specifically teeing it up on the Senior PGA Tour.

He admits the idea doesn’t hold a lot of attraction for him.

“Golf is not everything for me now, the way it was in my 20s or 30s. Now I like working with my businesses and growing them. It is a
different challenge. But I set a plan together in 1993 and I’m following it.”

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Jeff Lancaster

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