Talking at Turnberry earlier this week Greg Norman, whose business empire includes golf course design and turf farms, said that for the first time in his business life of nearly 20 years he had had to lay people off, which was not ‘not a good feeling’.
“My business is like any business,” he said. “You have to make adjustments. If you become reactionary to a situation you‘re probably in a bad state. If you‘re pro-active to it and you know you‘ve prepared yourself for moments like this – nobody can really pick when a recession is going to hit, nobody really knows to the magnitude of what it is – but if you have a good business model and you have the flexibility and adaptability to work with that you can get yourself through it.
“The golf course design business in America is absolutely dead, and it doesn‘t look like it‘s going to come back for quite a while, to tell you the truth.
“In our business we see the rest of the world leading the come back from the recession before the United States. I spent time in China two weeks ago. I‘ve got a lot of belief in China.
“I cross my fingers that we‘ll get in the Olympics. If golf gets in the Olympics, look out the rest of the world. I think golf will really take off in China. The growth in China right now is like 50 percent a year in the number of players. They estimate by 2020 there will be 26 million golfers in China; that‘s more than the United States or anywhere else. So if we all study what‘s happening in China, then golf, all of us are going to be much better off and there will probably be more events there and it will be a destination to go.
“You have to put ideological thoughts and opinions aside; you have to see where the growth of our game is going to go. And that goes into a lot of places. We see development in the Far East. I‘m building three golf courses in Vietnam.”
Asked about cutting his ties with MacGregor Golf, Greg Norman surprised many by saying: “Well, I had a very small part of MacGregor. People thought I owned it outright, but I did not, I only had a small percentage. There was a management buyout. There was a management buyout in the UK and in the United States. We still owned the intellectual property up until a certain period of time and we sold that off.
“It was a decision that the senior shareholders wanted to do. I supported it. The survivors in this game right now in the hard goods business are ‘Wall Street brands’. The middle tier and the lower tier brands are going to get killed, because the Nikes, the Callaways, the Acushnets and those guys of the world, they‘ve got the volume and they‘ve got the penetration to be able to survive through this.
“But the mid-tier brands or the smaller brands, they‘re going to have a harder time. And that‘s where we kind of saw the writing on the wall and we got out while we could.”
Greg Norman www.shark.com