Greg Norman Isn’t Selling Resort Golf, He’s Selling A Stake In Himself
GRAND EXUMA, BAHAMAS — Nice white sharks don’t cease rising. They by no means cease shifting ahead. Now properly into his 60s and enjoying much less golf than ever, PGA Tour veteran Greg Norman nonetheless proves worthy of his “Nice White Shark” nickname. His evolution from can’t miss golf prospect to enterprise mogul has made his second act as spectacular as the primary. And as his Shark model grows from a easy brand to an empire that caters to extensive corners of his sport’s profitable markets, his success begs an necessary query: Can his blueprint translate from golf’s deep pocketed spenders to America’s different sports activities?
Norman, as soon as an inseparable a part of golf’s main tournaments, is the face of a conglomerate that handles the whole lot from designing programs to promoting high-end beef. His Greg Norman Firm, the enterprise behind the Shark model, is a masterclass in reinvention. The aggressive model that earned him his apex predator nickname — and led to super swings on the course and on the leaderboard — turned his financial technique. His model as soon as sequestered in hats and collared shirts now extends to the corners a distinct segment catering to massive spenders.
It’s a method constructed as a hungry 20 yr outdated and held aloft as a banner for sexagenarian who neither seems nor acts his age. Norman’s public profile is that of a fun-loving retiree, however the picture of a profitable man whose personal jet-riding, open-sea diving, wheeling-dealing angle blends the non-destructive elements of Ric Aptitude and his personal 1980s persona isn’t any coincidence. Greg Norman isn’t promoting garments, or 18 holes of championship golf course design, or fashionable Australian wines.
He’s promoting shares in Greg Norman: the Shark, and it’s working. So how did Greg Norman transition from top-ranked golfer to life-style model?
Norman was at all times a larger-than-life presence on the course, the aggressive younger prospect who took the baton from superstars like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and ran with the burden of a nation on his again. The 6-foot-1 Australian would launch booming drives earlier than using his in-control quick recreation to 88 PGA Tour victories, two British Open Claret Jugs, and one Masters’ collapse that earned him simply as a lot notoriety as something.
As thrilling as he was to observe, his full-throttle demeanor was what made him a star. Behind the drives have been tales of outdoorsman journey, like how his “Nice White Shark” nickname, later shortened to the much less clunky “Shark,” wasn’t simply due to his never-stop angle. Norman famously used to shoot great whites from the deck of his fishing boat back on the Aussie coast.
It additionally offered a novel alternative, particularly for a golfer. Norman’s skilled profession as a event participant started in 1976, but it surely took 16 years — two of these as a PGA Tour cash chief and greater than three because the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer — earlier than he’d constructed the cache to be greater than an athlete. He was in his mid-30s when he wager on himself as the sport’s subsequent icon.
“It was most likely ‘92, ‘93, once I knew my administration contract with IMG was coming to an finish,” Norman tells me over bottled water, sitting adjoining to a stack of Sandals Resort swag he’ll spend the following hour signing throughout a wet day within the Bahamas. “I knew at the moment, due to my standing in world golf and observations I’d made with my administration, I knew they have been by no means going to construct fairness in my model. You’ve got a finite interval once you’re going to be the No. 1 participant on the planet or a sure kind of movie star.
“They’re gonna maximize that, as a result of they’re enjoying on fee. I began asking questions like ‘The place are my residuals,’ ‘Do I get a share of the TV take, of the gate cash?’”
These look charges have been step one on his quest towards constructing the Shark model. Norman’s profession success established him because the type of participant who may make or break a event. He used that leverage and a badass nickname to launch himself as a businessman. His break allowed him to associate with Reebok to create the Shark clothes line. That brand — a multi-colored Great White — and its presence in department shops throughout the globe was sufficient to push the PGA star past the golf-centric circles from which prior stars like Nicklaus and Palmer have been growing older out.
“My model, my brand was acknowledged as a life-style brand,” Norman says. “That’s because of Reebok taking it in a distinct route. It began to department out rapidly and at an early age. After which my life-style, folks type of stay vicariously by way of me as a result of I accomplish that many attention-grabbing issues. I acknowledged the whole lot about my model was just about golf associated. However that pyramid can solely develop so excessive. I spotted then, as I used to be branching out, golf course design turned a really beneficial financial indicator.”
The Greg Norman Firm’s portfolio seems like a shotgun blast from 10,000 ft, however a step nearer to the canvas reveals the established bridges between each distinctive component of his firm. It begins with course design, however the resorts that introduced him in want greater than that. His inside design wing places collectively the clubhouse. His attire fills it. Norman’s wine and beef issues provide the on-site steakhouse. It’s a large internet, but it surely’s fishing a really particular a part of the ocean. To date, it’s been fertile floor for the group.
Someday after our sit-down chat, we’re teeing off at a main instance of the Norman Co.’s vertical integration. Norman cuts an unmistakable determine on the course he designed on the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort. His innate likability, coupled along with his stature as a titan of his sport, makes him a quiet big throughout a 15-hole look at a Internet.com Tour cease’s pro-am occasion.
Quietly assured and armed with a everlasting sly grin, Norman stands tanned with excellent posture. Solely his sun-worn pores and skin betrays even two-thirds of his 63 years on the planet. At a pre-tournament reception, he feedback on how know-how has allowed him to hit the ball 20 yards additional than he may in his 30s, however the truth he seems like he spends his afternoons deadlifting manatees at his Jupiter Island residence might also play a job.
At present, he’s enjoying with a pair of journalists — myself included — and two weekend golfers from Texas who lucked their approach into the draw. He by no means gives unsolicited recommendation for flawed swings or poke holes in approaches, however gives loads of encouragement. He takes selfies and indicators autographs for a small, however devoted crowd that’s fashioned to observe the two-time British Open champion as he crushes his drives by way of the air.
He passes up a cooler of beer — ever on model (and seemingly devoid of carbs) he sticks with wine today — and gives it to the remainder of the foursome. He gives a candid opinion on Tiger Woods’ comeback. He jokes with me in regards to the sartorial determination to put on shorts branded with tiny moose emblems zig-zagging the legs. He’s, in any case, the Shark.
That’s when his success at a private stage turns into clear. You don’t identical to Greg Norman, you need him to love you again.
It’s a observe he applies his social media presence. Between Twitter and Instagram, he’s bought greater than 310,000 followers. He posts pictures from his day-to-day life all through every week, showcasing the wealthy experiences of a life properly lived. Someday he’ll snap an image from a ship, the place he’s celebrating his latest birthday with probably the most enjoyable inflatable slide you’ve ever seen. In one other, he’s hanging out with Matthew McConaughey. There are footage from his personal airplane, along with his Shark brand perfectly featured on the winglet. It’s all a part of the sport, and even on trip there aren’t any days off.
“You’re at all times on the clock,” Norman opines with a chuckle. “Whenever you’re the dwelling model, I believe that’s the toughest factor for me to regulate and adapt to. Regardless of once you step out of your room or your own home or your workplace or your airplane, somebody’s going to say or do one thing. If I’m not receptive, he may go ‘properly screw this man.’
“I’m that individual anyhow, however you at all times need to put your self on the market and concentrate on what you’re saying, your reactions, the way you carry your self, even the way you look once you get on an elevator. Individuals stare at you, and if you happen to stare again, properly how will they interpret that?”
It’s a distinct angle than the tenacious tack he’d developed on the PGA Tour. As a substitute, persona spills onto the structure he’s engineered on the Sandals Emerald Bay course, The resort, constructed on the tenets of sprawling beachfronts, swim-up bars, behind an all-inclusive emphasis on honeymooning couples, pushed golf to its forefront behind Norman’s cachet. He rewarded that religion by gobbling up a number of the island’s most fascinating actual property, a stretch of shoreline as soon as occupied by the poured foundations of excessive price condos.
He churned that land that into the course’s signature stretch, a gauntlet of oceanside vistas that swallow up any shot that hooks left. Over the span of six holes, the hyperlinks flip the bay’s pure geography into one of many Caribbean’s most lovely stretches of golf. This week, his affiliation has helped the course land its personal PGA occasion, the Internet.com Grand Exuma Traditional. The partnership, on this case, pays off for the resort, the tour, and Norman himself. Everybody appears to win.
All through his profession, that persona — the continuing persona that empowered him to strike out on his personal — has created the chance he’s sought to increase his profession and highlight past a golf profession that wound down within the 2000s. He’s optimistic his super rise within the enterprise world may be relevant to different athletes themselves, however one query looms: Can Norman’s blueprint translate from an upscale golf market to different sports activities that don’t cater to their very own vacation spot resorts?
It’s clear Norman’s supposed buyer base is a restricted market that will not exist outdoors the higher class standbys who populate the world’s costliest — and sometimes exclusionary — golf programs. When he addresses the sport’s shrinking inhabitants, he makes it clear he’s not speaking in regards to the informal gamers who dial up discounted greens charges on GolfNow for a number of humid weekends every summer time. He’s taking a look at a rich group prepared to drop 5 figures on the sport every year.
Once I press him on declining usage and membership rates at American courses, Norman is unconcerned.
“The golf cycle has flattened out,” he explains. “What occurred with golf within the mid-80s and mid-90s was completely unsustainable. America was rising and constructing golf programs on the fee of 440 a yr, yr on yr, for almost 10 years. You possibly can’t maintain that. Everybody simply thought there was limitless cash as a result of everybody was overleveraged.
“What we’re seeing at this time is totally completely different. Builders are much more refined, cash’s not as simple to return by. Whenever you do your fiscal modeling, it’s much more of an clever course of. It’s grow to be incumbent on my technology of architects to be much more refined with the intention to hit their return on funding or enhance it.”
Refined or not, there’s a giant distinction between a clientele capable of spend upwards of 5 — and sometimes six — figures yearly on membership dues and the common massive three (soccer, baseball, basketball) fan in America. And whereas generational stars have been capable of leverage partnerships with corporations like Nike — assume Michael Jordan or LeBron James — there aren’t many success tales in the case of branching out like Norman has.
Curt Schilling’s try to show his Boston space goodwill with a online game firm bilked the state of Rhode Island out of $75 million in bonds, years of authorized wrangling, and a shuttered studio. Dwyane Wade’s incapacity to decide to a budding restaurant enterprise put him on the unsuitable facet of a $25 million breach of contract suit. Archie Griffin’s failed shoe retailer franchise forced him into personal bankruptcy.
Have been these failures the results of the personalities behind them? Or have been they a case of stars roving too removed from the arenas the place they earned their biggest success?
“I consider each sport may take an inner have a look at themselves, from the NFL to Australian cricket,” Norman posits. “[But] there are particular sports activities the place it might be troublesome to monetize [the experience and vertical integration] of golf. It’s all in regards to the ambiance, the setting, the vacation spot that’s going to ship an expertise [visitors] can’t expertise anyplace else. It’s a 52-week-a-year deal, which can also be advantageous.”
And that’s the rub. Norman’s model is a life-style, promoting the one week per yr for which you’re employed the opposite 51. He sells the escape so properly as a result of the life he presents — the personal jets, the oceanside views and white sand seashores, the unique locales with an attractive spouse on his arm — is a full-time escape. His model is all about dwelling the dream, as a result of for the previous 40 years, Norman has been dwelling the dream.
That works for him, but it surely’s a a lot harder promote for athletes in sports activities that don’t carry that type of fantasy enchantment. Baseball can draw growing older days to pre-Spring Coaching fantasy camps and Grapefruit League video games, however outdoors the league schedule there’s no vacation spot that may match with the type of tourism golf generates. Basketball and soccer face related issues. Norman was capable of monetize the game he knew, however discovering an avenue to show basketball right into a model with out owing a lot of the credit score to a shoe firm is a completely completely different beast for these different athletes.
It helps that Norman appears to have been born for the position.
“My nature, I can compartmentalize fairly simply, I’m a multitasker,” he explains, minutes earlier than rigorously signing that stack of Sandals hats along with his title, the date, and a cautious scribble of a golf inexperienced. “My saying is DIN-DIP — do it now, do it correctly.”
Norman has been doing it correctly for greater than 40 years now, whether or not that’s been tearing up the PGA Tour, making a enterprise empire with tendrils in almost each facet of constructing a vacation spot golf course, or simply dwelling the type of life that makes others take discover. The Shark remains to be a person above all else, however his model bled by way of his enterprise and into his private life way back.
For somebody like Greg Norman, that’s not an issue — but it surely’s not one thing different Corridor of Fame athletes ought to anticipate to duplicate, both.