In recent years Greg Norman has morphed from being the leading golfer of his generation to the most complete businessman that golf (and probably any other sport) has ever seen, writes Geoff Russell.
Norman, who lifted The Claret Jug in 1986 and 1993, is the only golfer in history to be Number One on both sides of the Atlantic, winning The European Tour Order of Merit in 1982 and topping the US PGA Tour Money list in 1986, 1990 and 1995.
Having undergone back surgery in 2004 and knee surgery in 2007, Greg Norman has played little competitive golf in recent years. Now his interests extend from golf course design to the production of fine wines.
You can play a round of golf on a Greg Norman designed course, hitting from turf, using clubs and wearing clothes that have all come from Greg Norman companies. When you get back to the club house you can eat a steak from Greg Norman’s cattle ranch, washed down with wine from his vineyards.
And, of course, since Norman’s recent marriage to the multiple Grand Slam champion Chris Evert, you and any non-golfing partner can now play tennis at one of Mrs. Norman’s academies.
Greg Norman’s Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates has been chosen as the host venue for the richest tournament in world golf, the inaugural Dubai World Championship, in November 2009. The new clubhouse has been named after him while, nearby, is the development of luxury homes known as the Fireside by Greg Norman. There are other real estate developments by Greg Norman companies in Australia and the United States.
Greg Norman has a significant equity stake in MacGregor Golf, the second oldest golf company in the world, and serves on the board of directors. In television close-ups shown all round the world over the last four days the MacGregor Golf logo has been clearly visible along with the ‘Great White Shark’ logo of the Greg Norman Collection apparel business – exposure for these brands worth millions of dollars.
One can only speculate at what Norman’s ‘win bonus’ from MacGregor might have been had he lifted the Open Championship’s Claret Jug again on Sunday evening!
Greg Norman came to Royal Birkdale last week mainly with the aim of getting some meaningful practice before The Senior Open Championship which will be played at Royal Troon this week. It is only the second time he has played in this Championship, having finished third behind winner Tom Watson on his debut in 2005.
Norman heads to Royal Troon Golf Club after showing emphatically that he can still compete at the highest level. He will be part of the strongest field in the Championship’s 22 year history. American legend Tom Watson is looking to defend his title and the Major winning European trio of Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam make their debuts.
Greg Norman www.shark.com
Senior Open Championship www.europeantour.com