Born in Australia in 1955, Greg Normanís talent, intensity and vision has carried him to golfís peak. Norman dominated the game of golf in the 1980ís through the early 1990ís holding the worldís #1 ranking for an incredible 331 weeks. Norman has won two majors, has 21 victories on the PGA Tour and was the first man to surpass $10 million in career earnings. He won an additional 86 professional titles from around the world and in 2001 was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. But away from the golf course, Norman has built a diverse global business empire. His companies deal not only with golf Ė from apparel to MacGregor equipment - but also in real estate, golf course design, wines, beef and even turf for golf courses, to name but a few. His most recent project is the Blue Shark Golf Club, in Nassau, Bahamas. Hard by the Atlantic Ocean, Norman has designed a masterpiece. ďI believe we have turned a pigís ear into a silk purse,Ē said Norman at Januaryís opening. Blue Shark is part of the envisioned 400-acre New South Ocean Resort being developed by New York real estate investor Roger Stein in conjunction with Meadowbrook Golf. The complex ultimately will include luxury hotels, home sites, a beach club, retail center, mega-yacht marina and casinos. It was here this summer that Norman married tennis star Chris Evert. They honeymooned in Europe where Norman decided to play the British Open. He not only played it, but also led the tournament on Sunday. Padraig Harrington eventually defend his Open crown, but Normanís competitive fire, at 52 years old, had the world rooting for him to win his third Open title. After the final round, Norman said: ďObviously thereís only one winner, but I feel like in a lot of ways, I had a lot of mini-victories, not any within myself, but for a lot of other things, as well. I thought on reflection, it was a very impressive performance.Ē Impressive indeed.
Recently Matt Adams had the chance to talk with Norman, not only about golf, but about life, his success in businees and what make the Great White Shark tick.
MA: In an earlier interview, you said ďI finally found my passion in life, I really have and a lot of people probably couldnít say that about their lives Iím very, very content right now, probably more content than Iíve ever been. My priorities are not to be the number 1 player in the world any more but just to go out there and enjoy life.Ē Those passions, that contentment that you say you have found, Greg. What is it?
GN: Let me just try to put this in a bit of a capsule for you. When youíve played golf as an individual thatís exactly what it is
Yourself against the golf course yourself against 150 to 300 guys or however many are in the golf tournament and youíre really out there trying to extract as good as you can from yourself each and every shot that you play. Itís a very self-centered approach and focus that you have to take. Now by me saying Iíve found a place in my life that Iím very, very happy with, the position that Iím in right now itís the realization after all this time period is my business and the business is probably a direct follow up to my performance on the golf course and Iíve now found that itís not an individual approach, itís a team approach and its that team approach thatís really fulfilling in a lot of ways. Just as an individual to make a decision to where the company should go or where I would like it to go, what direction we would like to change, should we be changing should we be tactical Iím the one who has to make those decisions but at the same time with me making those decisions has a dramatic effect and impact on other peoples lives and I mean the people who work for me and their spouses and their significant others and their children and their relatives. Itís a very powerful feeling within yourself to know that youíre responsible for other peopleís welfare. So to me itís a gratifying feeling in a lot of ways. I got my gratifying feelings when I won a golf tournament. I had my pains and highlights in the last golf tournament and at the same time in business the rewards are totally different. To see the smiles on peopleís faces when you give them a bonus check at the end of the year, to be able to give them a speech at Christmas, options for the company, tell them where there going to be and where weíre heading for 2012 and beyond. Itís such a comfortable feeling, although very difficult for me to explain.
MA: Do you think that most people do not pursue their lifeís passions that they kind of live a life of mediocrity because of fear or the inability to just go after what they really want?
GN: Thereís no question about it. You have to take the initiative in life if youíre happy having the security blanket around you no matter what it is. If youíre happy with that security blanket, thereís no problem with doing that. Itís your comfort zone. But if you want to go out there and try to position yourself in life a little bit ahead of everybody else then you have to take the initiative and by initiative, I mean a lot of hard work. Itís a lot of guts. It may not work, you may be knocked down a peg or two before you get yourself back up but thatís all part of being the person who wants to strive for success, the person who wants to give back a little bit more, the person who wants to achieve something that either he or she knows within themselves.
MA: You have a motto, which is ďAttack life.Ē Obviously all the things youíve told us lend themselves to that, so I take it that you are very much still on the attack.
GN: Oh I am. You canít just decide to say Iím set for tomorrow and just sit back and shut everything down and live life on Easy Street for the rest of your life. You just canít do that. I wrote in my book that patient money is good money. Fast money is not necessarily good money. Iíve always been a believer in patient money because if you go into business, it takes years and years - sometimes 10 to 12 years to get a business on the right footing on the right pace to get yourself going forward. When that happens, it starts getting to become an annuity and an annuity starts regenerating itself as time goes by. Of course, you have to manage it, you have to steer the ship in the right direction and make sure the entire crew is on board with you, but it takes a long time.
MA: You have succeeded in building the Greg Norman name into a global brand. Can you discuss how you accomplished this?
GN: I didnít deviate from the things I enjoyed in life and still enjoy in life. For example, I love to dine, I love the real estate business, I love a glass of wine and I love a good piece of beef. I have integrated the things I love into my businesses. I then turned my focus to things that were not a real part of my life style. An example of focusing in on something I really didnít know anything would be the turf industry. I made a mistake there. I went into an industry I wasnít really savvy with even though, as a professional golfer, I walked on turf every day of my life. But it wasnít something that I was physically attached to. So I got into it, but I didnít understand it. I didnít put the right people in place and so it became sort of a sea anchor to say the least. But I identified my weaknesses in that department and fixed the problem and now weíre headed in a totally different direction and quite successfully I might add. But I had to go through this learning period. So when you think about things like that, itís identifying what I like in my life style and itís easy for me to put my hand on my heart and say I can validate the direction that Iím going because I do this on almost a daily basis in my life
MA: The Greg Norman brand, what do you feel it stands for?
GN: I would say the brand stands for quality. Itís understanding what the masses are looking for and what they expect. You have to understand that, in 2008, consumers are very sophisticated buyers. They know what theyíre looking for. The reason theyíre so sophisticated is knowledge. They can go to Google and come up with information they need. It makes them a sophisticated buyer - from buying a head of lettuce in the grocery store to buying a piece of property to build a house on for the future generation for their family. So you have to be able to give the consumers what theyíre looking for. You have to be able to know exactly how they feel. The brand, from my prospective stands for quality. I havenít diluted the brand and Iíve been very meticulous about this in all the years. Iíve had the opportunity to step down a rung or two on the ladder to make cheaper things and I refuse to do that. Once youíve established a benchmark, I think you have to maintain that and only go higher, not lower.
MA: In your book ďThe Way of the SharkĒ you gave the following advice: 1. Find your passion; 2. Prioritize your life; 3. Trust; 4. Surround your self with great people and 5. Failures happen. How have those five things worked for you?
GN: Each one is significant in their own way and I realized very early on in my own life, in my career, in my business and in life that you do make mistakes and you have to rely on other individuals to make things go for you. You know when you play professional golf at a high level, you relied on your coach and relied on your caddie and you had a support structure right there Then you have a physical trainer and the support structure keeps growing. You have to be able to trust these individuals and one way to get trust out of it is to give them some feeling of independence that they can go out and execute their own decisions. The only way they can do that is if they understand the direction the CEO of the company wants to take them.
MA: You mentioned in your book that when you were just starting to play the game of golf, you told your mother that you were going to win the Open Championship and she never discouraged you. Have you been able to embody that philosophy - in the raising of your own children and even in the management of your companies Ė that anything is possible?
GN: Absolutely, you have to chase your dreams! You must always try to reach a higher level. I say that to the people I love. I say it to my children. You have to be intelligent and be able to give back. I only know what works for me and what works for my organization. Iíve taken little bits of success from everybody I thought was successful and had an inward place as well as a physical place for things in life that created their success. Itís like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You take little bits of information that allows you to see the picture in the fuller light.
MA: You have been with the MacGregor Golf since 1978 and your company acquired the brand two years ago. What are your plans going forward?
GN: MacGregor is a different brand and a different piece of the market. When you have an iconic brand like that you have to look at the big picture. Any time you acquire a company, you start stripping it down -you see its strengths and you see its weaknesses. As you identify the weakness, you begin working to build them into strengths. Once you get that on track, you work on your strengths. You know they are always going to be there. You must keep pushing your strengths. They to maximize them is to keep putting a great product out there and your reps can go out and sell and make sure what they sell is great and the way to do that is to keep making a great product. We know we have to strengthen that because the MacGregor brand over the years has been phenomenally successful on the golf course with a number of major championships and a number of great players in the world play with MacGregor clubs. That is a standing testament to the quality of the product that MacGregor produces. Great players arenít going to play with an inferior club. Great players are going to play with a great club that is going to get them to their ultimate goal and thatís winning championships. MacGregor has been the leader in that by far, the greatest leader in the number of championships won. So I was very, very passionate about that. The previous owners might have had a different philosophy than my partners and I have today, so we have to redirect the company. We have to get the bra nd and the image back. We have to get the product line back. Weíve done that very, very successfully to date and were positioning MacGregor to where MacGregor should be. On a global sense, MacGregor has a huge future ahead of it. Itís a very successful company in Japan and Korea. So we already have a very good leg out in that direction. Then you start looking into China and into India and into South America and there are great opportunities there too.