• Shark Tale

    From a stellar career in golf to golf course construction and Great White Shark Enterprises, Greg Norman continues to evolve. Now the man and his brand, the Greg Norman Company, are building some of the most stylish residential communities in the world writes Tom Hyde.

    • Design World - April 2020
    This article appears in the April 2020 edition of World Magazine - The Design Issue. Click the image above to view.

    Growing up in Queensland, Greg Norman surfed, dived, camped and hiked. Hw was always on the go, and still is.

    Today he drives bulldozers, flies helicopters, rides horses at his Colorado Ranch and spearfishes off his yacht, Aussie Rules. Hw swims with whales in French Polynesia, goes on safai in Africa and hikes mountain trails in Bhutan.

    Looking back, however, it was the simple act of caddying for his mother, a single-figure handicap golfer, that gave him a clear direction. Hw was 16 when, instead of picking out a club for Mum, he picked one out for himself and discovered he could hit a golf ball well enough to keep at it, and in short order his life changed forever.

    It took him just two years to become a scratch player and just four tournaments to win his fitst professional trophy. Hw was 21 when he headed overseas for the first time, to play in a tournament in California and, as the saying goes, he never looked back.

    He won 91 tournaments worldwide, was the No. 1 player in the world for 331 weeks, won two (British) Open Championships and was the runner-up twice at each of the other three Majors. He captured 20 US PGA Tour titles and was the first player to surpass $10 million in earnings. This was before the coming of Tiger Woods, when television ratings for golf soared and the prize money went through the stratosphere.

    Norman turned from playing golf courses to building them and today, Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD) has built more than 100 courses in 31 countries. His courses have won a host of awards, often for their environmental design. ‘Sustainability’ is an important word in his vocabulary and ‘least disturbance’ a motto.

    At some point along his remarkable journey from Queensland to the world, Greg Norman discovered something important about himself; that he was not just a famous golfer, he was a brand that could be applied to a host of activities.

    That discovery led first to the formation of Great White Shark Enterprises and then, not long after buying a 12 per cent share in Cobra Golf for $1.9 million and selling it five years later for $40 million, he formed the Greg Norman Company.

    Bill Moss, former senior executive of Macquarie Bank, who worked with him to set up his early ventures, told one magazine: “Working and traveling with Greg, I soon realised he was a very deep thinker and a most sincere and gerneous person who, without any fuss or publicity, was a committed philanthropist and behind-the-scenes benefactor of many worthy causes. Greg has one lasting influence on me: a philosophy of life that was summed up by his favorite motto, ‘Attack Life’.”

    Just as he had an intuitive feel for golf, he had the same for business. From the many reports on his companies found online, it‘s clear that the secret of his success is twofold. First, his innate desire for adventure - instilled in him as a kid growing up Queensland - and second, his courage in the face of failure.

    Like his collapse at the 1996 Masters where, in the wake of a heart-breaking loss to Nick Faldo, and having to front up to media afterwards, he was nothing but class. “I think it‘s important to embrace failure,” he once said.

    Of course, there is more to his story than that. His willingness to be hands on, to listen and to learn and perhaps most of all, his outwardly attention to detail. He‘s engaged and engaging. He‘s not a celebrity to attach his name to a product and walk away. That‘s probably why the success of Greg Norman Golf Course Design morphed almost naturally into the Greg Norman Company, one that today encompasses a wide range of activity from apparel and eyewear to hospitality, wine and steaks.

    On that count, we note his Australian Grille. It‘s a restaurant of the waterfront at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that features a wood-grilled style of cooking and a menu of various cuts of beef, lobster and other seafoods. Including, of course, shrimp on the barbie. Only here it‘s a little fancier than that. As the menu has it: “Wood-grilled shrimp over parmesan and asiago-infused creamy polenta covered with bacon shaved sprouts and finished with tomato bacon gravy.”

    The wine list at Greg Norman‘s Australian Grille has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for more than 10 years straight. It‘s about detail. And then there‘s design.

    The Norman Design Group works closely with Greg Norman Developments and together the two companies have built, and continue to build, some of the finest branded golf communities in the world.

    According to his website, “Greg Norman Real Estate (GNRE) is an integrated international branded real estate development firm focused exclusively on bringing the Greg Norman brand to high-end luxury developments, hospitality projects and golf courses. Norman and his team take a unique, hands-on approach to provide services throughout the entire process including project envisioning, site planning, marketing and sales, and interior and architectural design.”

    “The interior design arm of the business, the Norman Design Group, creates exclusive interiors and architecture for Greg Norman branded residential communities. The firm delivers clear and cohesive design concepts that are a natural continuation of Greg‘s distinctive style, ensuring that brand concept extends seamlessly from a project‘s golf course, to the model villas, to the clubhouse and beyond.”

    Kirsten Eulenhoefer, the designer of smart interiors for the Fairmont Nile City hotel in Cairo and the Park Hyatt Hotel in Zurich, had made it on her own before she met and married Greg, in 2010. Since then she‘s become the head of the Norman Design Group for the company‘s attractive residences and interiors.

    In March this year, the company announced the debut of a real estate and lifestyle community called Norman Estates at Rancho San Lucas, in Los Cabos, Mexico. It‘s an 834 acre development, in partnership with Solmar Hotels & Resorts of Cabo San Lucas. It has 1.2 miles of beachfront on the Pacific Coast and is framed by a Greg Norman Signature Golf Course.

    Norman Estates is a private, gated enclave within Rancho San Lucas containing 32 estate homes and 36 condominiums.