At last night’s Gala Dinner, sponsored by Nicklaus Design, the 250 delegates to this year’s KPMG Golf Business Forum at the Gloria Golf Resort in Belek, Turkey, were told that in 2011 the Golf Business Forum will be hosted by Dubai Golf. The dates will be announced soon.
Earlier in the day Greg Norman had been presented with KPMG’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Interviewed by Don Riddell, a host of CNN International’s monthly feature ‘Living Golf’, Greg Norman said that he hoped that the award had something to do with his lifetime of commitment to the development of the game of golf.
Back in 1993, long before the end of his playing career and still only 38 years old, Greg Norman had determined a 7 year plan that he hoped would continue his involvement with the golf business long after his playing days were behind him. He developed his business skills by studying marketing and branding and, of course, golf course design. He ‘embraced the challenge of trying to make myself better’.
It just so happened that Greg Norman’s 7 year plan took only 3 years to come to fruition. Like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus before him his pathway from a golf playing career to a golf business career was assured. It has been well said that a golfer can play on a Greg Norman designed course, from Greg Norman grown turf, using Greg Norman equipment and wearing Greg Norman clothes. Afterwards he can eat steak from Greg Norman’s cattle ranch, washed down with a glass of Greg Norman fine wine.
In accepting his award, Greg Norman paid tribute to The KPMG’s Business Forum, saying that the firm’s research work identified ‘what’s going on in golf; where the heartbeat is.’
“Golf is all about networking,” he said, “we all move within the same circles and you have got to keep up those contacts. It’s in bad times that you can build the best relationships. Then they carry on through to the good times.
“There are signs that that the credit crisis is easing but it’s not like a light switch; you can’t just turn it back on again. I see the market needing 12-18 months of stabilisation and we are never going back to the ‘old days’. Among the changes will be an end to projects which are over-leveraged and the elimination of greed.
“The era of building high-maintenance golf courses is also over. We have to learn by our past mistakes but in the end a rising tide floats all boats. New golf course design assignments lead to other opportunities and that excites me, although the hardest part about running a successful business is the need for outstanding human resources.”
“I work with a great team,” Greg Norman said. “But I still like to get my fingernails dirty, even if that is not quite as much as before. I have good guys on my team and that means I can spend more time developing marketing strategies and branding. Luxury brands are not finished but flexibility and adaptability are the keys to future success.”
In conclusion Greg Norman confirmed that he has not given upon his idea of a World Tour for golf, first proposed by him back in the mid 1990s. In fact, he said, “In many ways it’s more ‘doable’ now than it was then. Business has become even more global than it was and so has golf. The European Tour has already expanded well outside Europe and the PGA Tour is outside the USA with a tournament in Mexico and others on the cards in China.
“All the top players are well used to intercontinental travel these days, we have global TV coverage of the game and many of the potential sponsors have businesses that operate on a global scale,” he said. “The concept is for a Tour comprising around 12 events and it would be at least part-owned by the players themselves. The idea has more legs now than it did back then. All the ‘World Championship’ events have ended up being played in the USA and that’s not a ‘world tour’.” Greg Norman concluded.
KPMG Golf Business Forum www.golfbusinessforum.com