Hot off hosting another life-changing Shark Franklin Templeton Shootout, Greg Norman is fully engaged in his brand remake.
Saving the game from the governing bodies appears to be superhero Shark's latest mission. In association with Verizon. Mid-second quarter '17.
I realize that most of you have already signed up the Shirtless Shark for the funny farm after seeing him return to chainsaw work after nearly severing a limb chain-sawing brush.
But it's hard not to get excited about the looming brilliance that will be Shark's attempt to save the game (in a way that makes him more money).
By his own admission the Shark is planning to rock golf’s paradigm. He will do so, he says, in partnership with Verizon, the communications giant with whom he recently signed an eight-year deal. Verizon, incidentally, has never been associated with the golf industry on any level. That is until its hook up with Norman through 2024.
Young was at the launch of his newest design, the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Neuvo Vallarta, Mexico. During a fireside chat the Shirtless One started asking rhetorical questions about the state of the game.
“In the middle second quarter of next year, I’ll invite you guys down to my office,” he said. “We will tell you exactly how we’re going to break this cast iron that’s been wrapped around golf for so long. We’re going to shatter it. The institutions (USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour) will eventually buy into it because they will have to buy into it. They won’t have a choice.”
Someone's been watching The Godfather too much! Horse owners among the governing bodies, check your barn locks.
But in case you didn't know how selfless the Shark can be, just think of the work he's doing to extend his brand into the next 200 years.
“If I died tomorrow what would happen to a lot of my businesses. Eventually they would die off,” he explained. “I never want that to happen because I want my brand to go on to perpetuity. So I started to think about a game plan about three years ago, in 2013, revolving around a 12-year game plan AND a 200-year game plan. You have to build a company for today but also for the future. Re-branding and repositioning is a big part of that.”
So are lots of vitamins! The awkward Fox Sports visit booth a year after being canned:
Young then writes:
Something head scratching? Norman gets little to no credit for his course design abilities. Rare, if ever, is his name mentioned with modern architects like Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, Gil Hanse, or Tom Doak. Design based on a least disturbance approach? Norman was engaged in this philosophy long before it became en vogue.
“I think I got slammed in the early part of my career for designing golf courses that were too hard,” he said.
Having at least one close due to difficulty before anyone even got to play it...will do that! Shame too, as the Bob Harrison years were impressive.
“But in my own defense, that was quite often the owner or developer that wanted that type of golf course. On at least a half-dozen occasions I’ve gone up to owners or developers, walked off the site and told them, ‘You build the golf course.’ Nobody every writes that of course. They just say Greg Norman builds too hard of golf courses.”
Well at least it's not bothering him.
“Opinions are like assholes: everyone’s got one. And I respect people’s opinions if they respect mine. What I despise are people, bloggers especially, who write articles about me who don’t even know me, never picked up a phone or even asked me a single question about my design philosophy. That blows me away,” he added.
There is a design philosophy beyond making money? Breaking news alert!
But back to that mid-second quarter, or third quarter at the latest...
“I can tell you this: by the third quarter of next year we’re going to market with a new product. You guys are going to say ‘Wow, nobody has ever thought about this,’” said Norman with a grin. “The partnership with Verizon goes beyond golf. They have never been involved with the game before and now they’re my partner going forward for the next eight years. It’s related to golf to some degree but totally related to some other places. These are the opportunities I have always seen within the company but I never had the right personnel or opportunity to do it.”