Troon Golf & Travel: Full Plate For The Shark
Greg Norman may no longer play competitive golf — he only played eight rounds total in 2015 — but that doesn't mean he's retired. In fact, the Aussie icon, who turns 61 in February, has never been busier with his new career as a golf analyst with FOX Sports and his company, Great White Shark Enterprises, which is comprised of 20 fully or partially owned divisions, including course design and management, apparel, real estate, wine, beef, event management, debt-lending, and GPS technology. His most profitable division is his golf course design company, which opened its 100th design (Eastern Golf Club in Melbourne's Yarra Valley) last year. How appropriate that it happened Down Under in his native country. Troon Golf & Travel caught up with Norman at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club, Bahamas, where his Troon-managed course has perhaps the best stretch of oceanfront holes in the Caribbean. - Tom Cunneff
Well, my hope is that it's successful in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and they vote it back in 2020, but I think they have chosen the wrong country. I wish it would have either been in Australia, England, or the U.S. There's just so much underlying uncertainty about the golf course and the structure on the periphery of the golf course, the ownership and all that stuff. That worries me big time. It's a really important moment because if we fail, then golf won't be back in for another 100 years.
All I can say is this: going from what I was told by many at FOX and the USGA, knowing all that I put into the process, and considering it was my first run at it, I thought I did a good job. Not great, but good. Like trying to be the best you can be in golf, the more practice you have, the better you get. I only had one U.S. Open Championship. I would have liked another opportunity, as it was so new to all of us last year.
The learning curve was one that I truly enjoyed and I do believe I have a wealth of golfing experience on and off the course, design philosophy and agronomy knowledge, that someday I could express to the world. So I will certainly keep my options open.
Just stay within your limitations. I think amateur golfers try to get 100 percent out of every shot. We probably play within 80 percent of our capabilities. And we're always playing for our misses, so we map it out. In some cases I'd rather be 30 feet under the hole than 10 feet above the hole. So we manage ourselves, manage our expectations more. Don't try to hit every iron shot perfectly.
Probably the 4-iron at 18 in the final round of the '86 Masters where I just needed a par to force a playoff with Jack Nicklaus. It was just the wrong club. I had 187 yards and I'd been playing so well all day and hitting everything solid. I just tried to finesse a 4-iron in there. Under pressure you're better off going as close to a full, aggressive swing as you possibly can. I wouldn't go at it 100 percent. I'd go a full 80 percent. But I had to take a lot off the 4-iron because I was trying to hit a high cut shot to get back to the flag. The 18th fairway has got a lot of upslope and I didn't fire my right hip up to the ball. Gravity kept me back a little bit and I fanned it out to the right. I should have hit a hard 5-iron. Just take a norman shot and let it fall six feet to the right.
I think it's great news, I really do. I always hated (anchoring) when I first saw players using it back in the late '80s. The golf swing is not a hinged swing. The golf swing is a swing. So I think it's a very positive move. For the pros, I'd also go back to the pre-1996 specification of the golf ball and I'd change the COR (spring-like effect) of the ball coming off the club face.
We looked at the construction side of the business, but the margins are really low because there's so much competition out there. The next best thing for a designer like myself is making sure the golf course is maintained to the standards in the agreement. It also benefits Troon because I have 44 golf courses I'm designing under contract right now, so if they can pull 10 percent of those, I'm moving the needle for them. So there was a bit of a quid pro quo. Now, we don't force Sandals or anybody else to use Troon. They've got to present their credentials.