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December 6, 2007
JOHN BUSH: Thanks for spending time with us. We've already heard from some players about what a feel-good week of golf this has become, and throughout the history of the event that's what it's been about.
Take us back in your thoughts on that as we start another year.
GREG NORMAN: I think the boys are right. I think this year is probably -- and I say it every year -- this year seems like it's more relaxing and enjoyable this year. I don't know how to put it in the right words, but it seems like it's elevated itself for whatever reason.
Whether it's that Merrill Lynch is getting more comfortable with us, whether it's the new sponsors or the players coming in and talking the way they speak and checking out the golf course. NBC, had a couple people come around and say this is the best golf course they have ever televised in South Florida, any of their Florida courses.
So it's all about that hype and conversation that goes on all the time. It's good for the tournament, no question about it. And from my perspective, 19 years, seems like it was just yesterday we started this whole thing, and now we're looking at starting to play for the 20th anniversary. It's been a great road to go down.
JOHN BUSH: Any questions? And if we can, we have our transcript service on line, so use the microphone as much as possible.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: I wish I could come up with those -- maybe I should go and read my book, because I need it right now to get myself going again. You know, every day I say something new to myself. The 50 in the book, I've probably added a couple more since the book. The time I spent with my son over the last week in the Father/Son, and helping him over the past four to five months with his game. Puts a lot more things into perspective.
You know, I've been fortunate. That book was all pretty much from the beginning to up until a period of time up to a year ago. There's been so many changes since then, so there's been a lot of great anecdotes I could add to that. My philosophy is really when you look back and look at somebody like a Gregory Lang, he was here with us last year and he's not here with us in 52 weeks.
And when you think about the times I spent with my son and the time -- my life has changed. It's a lot better. It's on a much better page as far as I'm concerned. I look at those things and I'm thankful for it. I'm not really answering your question, but I am in a way, because I say to myself every day, I'm blessed. I enjoy each day, whatever the day brings.
I don't have cancer and problems in my life. I am enjoying my life more than I ever have right now. I wish I could just go one, two, three for you, but I just think it's a whole sequence of events. I think this should really work for everybody in life. Find a place where you're happy. If you find that place, everything else will really take care of itself.
My priorities have changed dramatically in the last year. So much so that I never knew these priorities that I have now were in existence 18 months, two years ago, and that's obviously a lot to do with the person I'm with and the comfort I have in life right now and the position I feel in life.
So my balance is -- everybody says to me I seem like a totally different guy: More low keyed, more laid back, not as intense, and stuff like that. To me, I just love the position I'm in. So figure out three out of that.
Q. So if you're not a great white shark, if you're laid back, what kind of shark are you?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I just cruise the outer banks, how about that? I don't go up into the shallows and devour a meal. I just cruise out there and just whatever -- you can put a lot cliches to it, but there are things that you -- it's hard to explain how somebody feels if you've never been there. Once you get there you go, Wow, this is a new place and it's a beautiful place to be.
Q. You said you played with your son last week at the Father/Son. How much golf have you played coming in here, and you know, how do you feel about your game?
GREG NORMAN: I played about two weeks before the Father/Son. I really started practicing intently about a week before the Father/Son. I spent a lot more time with Gregory on the driving range helping him than me not even hitting a golf ball. I enjoyed that. Three, four hours with him, teaching the short game, the pitch shots, field shots.
Last week he holed a shot from 100 yards. He chipped great. He pitched great. It's all about positive feedback and giving him the right Mojo with certain shots.
I don't worry about myself anymore, or my game, like I did ten years ago. I'd rather see my son get the enjoyment and satisfaction out of it and the improvement out of it. When we finished playing on Sunday, you know, I told him his Impromen from a year ago to this year was dramatic. You'll see another dramatic improvement from this year to next year.
So he's working on all the right things, and I'm enjoying being part of it.
Q. Do you ever lay in bed at night and think about how it might have been with your career if you had been healthy all the time, especially with the advent of Tiger coming on, and if you could have been in more contention?
GREG NORMAN: No, I don't. I don't really. My injuries were really a product of my dedication to hitting a lot of golf balls to stay at the top of my game. I would do things differently knowing what it's like now, than going back 30 years, 35 years. I would approach things a little bit differently.
But you know what? What you know now, you know, tomorrow's newspapers, if we had it today we'd all be very, very rich and smart. But at the end of day I can't complain. I don't have any regrets about by career or about -- obviously I have regrets about some of the shots I hit, but not about the overall aspect of my career.
I'm lucky, and I've been very, very lucky. I'm giving a lot back right now.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: Well, as chairman, I'm not involved in the day to day. I'm not involved from the manager side of things. I speak to the managers. I understand where the company is and I give direction to the company, especially product.
My shareholders and I are very much hands on with this company. We don't micromanage it. That's one thing I don't believe in. You hire the right people to do the right job for you. It's a line of reporting back up to the board of directors, of which obviously I'm the chairman of.
So I sit there and take it all in when we have the board meetings. And there's a lot accountability to be answered for with a company like McGregor with the ownership of Greg Norman Collection at the same time.
So the accountability is crucial. I do that in my office, and I try and make sure that what I've implemented with NGWSE gets implemented within the leadership that I have to give with McGregor.
I'm very much aware of what an iconic brand and a brand is. McGregor is an iconic brand. It's been around for over 100 years and in probably in the top 80 most recognized names in the world of sport. So when you look at a company like that you've got to be very, very sensitive to the fact that there's probably a lot of value that hasn't been unlocked within the company.
I have to task myself and the people to try and unlock that. You have to redirect it. I think the company was directed in the wrong direction for quite a few years now, and it's not like going out there to be the biggest company in the world. Just going out there to be the best company in the world.
Just dominating, commanding your niche and marketplace. Whether that's 12 or 18 percent or whatever market share it is, make sure you get that share and sustain and keep it. The way you do that is with credibility of the product and what the name McGregor has represented all these years.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: With the board?
Q. With McGregor and your clothing line.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think we go everywhere from the young -- the very good play with the McGregor golf clubs, because that's always been their market. They've won major championships with their golf clubs. They've been a good players' golf club. But then again, you've got to give that extra layer where technology can help the not-so-good players.
With Greg Norman Collection and with McGregor, we actually cater to the baby boomer market tremendously well. We focus on that a lot. Where there's great synergy is with McGregor and Greg Norman Collection, is McGregor is a very successful company outside of America. People don't know that. It's probably the Top 3 driver in Japan and Korea.
You know, the revenues that we generate out of the company overseas is phenomenal, whereas Greg Norman Collection is great domestically, meaning United States. We're just starting overseas. So, you know, you can see where this goes. We're going to build up McGregor in the U.S. and going to build up Greg Norman Collection globally.
So there's going to be a beautiful -- we're not really fighting to get McGregor and Greg Norman Collection working in one location, because one is good in one place and the other one is not, so it's easy to get that balance. You got to realize the one is hard goods and one is soft goods, so we have that beautiful synergy in that regard.
We have the independent companies. Greg Norman Collection stands on its own and it's going to wash its own face. Same with McGregor. Just the lines of reporting come back to the one board. That's all it is.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: Not much history. When he was growing, when her was in his mid-teens, 13, 14, 15, he was never really interested in playing the game of golf. He made a comment one time when I was practicing in the backyard. I asked him to go get his golf clubs and come practice with me. He said, Dad, I don't want to play golf for a living, because I seen how much sacrifice that you had to give to get to where you are.
So he was probably -- you know, he understood the effort that I put in and how hard it was to get there and the sacrifice you have to make away on the weekends 35 weeks a year, and he didn't want to go down that avenue. So he went off and did his own thing. Found whatever sports he liked, and get big into kite boarding.
In the last 18 months to a year he decided that he loved golf for whatever reason. He picked it up and he got stronger and he was physically stronger and he started getting great feedback from his swing, hitting the golf ball a long way, he starting out-driving me and got more and more confidence. And that's taken him today where he quit kite boarding. He was a professional kite boarder. Still loves to surf.
Wants to finish off his academics at University of Miami and is talking about doing things beyond that in graduate school. He's got his head right now and he loves the game golf. We talked today about a few things he'd liked to do next year in the game of golf and qualifying for certain things and I said, All for you. Go for it. Chase your dream as much as you can.
So I admire him because he's got a very good balance. He's not shooting for the stars, just quietly edging his way up.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: I would say he's probably anywhere from a two to a three to four handicap.
Q. What kind of things does he want to play next year?
GREG NORMAN: He's an amateur. Wants to play amateur events and qualify in Florida events. He plays in South Florida events right now. Might want to think about playing other bigger tournaments. I'll talk to him about it, but I think it's great. Maybe he can go qualify for the British Open, something like that.
Q. When you were growing up, and obviously committed to succeeding in golf, I think you talked about how your father was supportive. From a financial position, where have you stood as far as supporting Gregory but also being in a position to -- he's not in the same position you were in where it was a requirement to be as financially successful early on because of your success. Are you comfortable standing back and supporting him in going after these things?
GREG NORMAN: I think I follow you a little bit. But yeah, I won't be there supporting him. It's his hobby right now. He loves it. His dedication is to his college, University of Miami. Getting to graduation in a couple -- well, summer of next year.
So I'll support him whatever he needs as a hobby. Now, if he decides to go on to do bigger and better things, now that's a totally different world. We haven't even discussed that. He doesn't even want to talk about that right now.
So you face what's there in front of you the right way and the best way you can, and my responsibility is to make sure that he has all the things he needs right now to get through his life and education. When he goes out and gets a job and decides whatever he wants to do, that's -- like all of us, we got to step up to the plate ourselves and fly away from that nest every now and then. Not every now and then. You got fly away from that nest and be independent, which he will be.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: Well, he just right now has got a good eye for my golf swing. When I'm done here we'll go practice a little bit and he's put me back in the right position. I'm a little bit out of sync right now.
He's been around me long enough to know my game, so he's a great pair of eyes for me to be able to work with. We'll do that this afternoon.
Q. Is the Father/Son the first event he's been in?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah. We played in it last year and this year was the second time. Yeah.
Q. What events will you play next year?
GREG NORMAN: Right now I'm going to play in the AT&T, the Pebble Beach, and after that I haven't made up my mind yet.
Q. (No microphone.)
GREG NORMAN: I would imagine somewhere around that number: Five to six maybe, something like that. Not a lot, I can tell you that. It's very difficult for me to sustain my practice schedule with a lot of the other things I have on my plate. I don't miss it, number one. I don't crave to get out there and hit balls ten hours a day for 28 days a month. I don't crave for that.
So I have to be very realistic about it. My game is not as sharp as it used to be because I don't practice. You've just got to accept what you got.
Q. Will Gregory play at Pebble Beach?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
Q. Is that part of deal?
GREG NORMAN: Yes.
Q. Has he played some of the courses that you've played during your career?
GREG NORMAN: No, he has not. He asked me if we could play in the AT&T, and I didn't know if I could get either one of us in, to tell us the truth. As it worked out we were lucky enough to get in. So to play Pebble Beach and Spy Glass, unfortunately won't play Cypress Point. But to get out there and play those courses in a tournament of that history is going to be good for him as well.
It's a little bit different than playing the Father/Son, of course, because it's a true pro event and a PGA Tour event, and there are going to be a lot people out there. Going to be a totally different atmosphere, so it's good for him to experience all that if he wants to go and qualify for events that he'd like to play in next year.
Q. We don't really know him. We've seen him. Do you think that now that you're not competitive it's a little easier for him to go out there and be an amateur? You're not in the focus. You think that makes it more comfortable for him?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know. You have to ask him that question. I think -- I know one thing for sure: Both my kids have got their feet on the ground. They're very, very well balanced. Not affected by the position they have. Gregory is very much that way.
He'd rather stay in the background and just work his way through than be in the foreground and say this is who I am and I'm going to go do my thing. That's why he's is a well-balanced. I shouldn't even say he's a kid. He's 22 years old. He's always going to be my kid, though. So you have to ask him that question.
Q. Would you like to see him maybe join you in your business kind of thing?
GREG NORMAN: I'd love to see it. He's at UM right now. He's doing business and marketing. Loves them both. He's got a pretty -- we talked briefly about certain things he's studying in school, and I think he'd be -- he could fit into my program very, very nicely. But I want him to earn his way in.
It's not like it's a given that you come in and there's a position. You have to show your skills, because there's a lot of qualified people out there that want to come work for my company. We don't have a shortage of -- if a job opening comes up, we don't have a shortage of resumes coming across our desks. Long term I would love to see him into it, yeah.
Q. Pretty much the way your dad was with you.
GREG NORMAN: Yes. My dad wanted me to go into engineering and I didn't want to go. I became a professional golfer, so I kind of steered away from where my father wanted me to go. Who knows with Gregory. All I know is he's getting a great education right now, and that education fits into my business very, very nicely.
Q. Changing gears, I wanted to ask you about inviting Zach Johnson to the tournament, how that worked out. And also, and have you ever seen a Masters champion play under the radar the way he has?
GREG NORMAN: He's got that Midwestern personality which is very quiet, understated. I've been to the Midwest a lot and I really like the attitude of the people, and Zach is very much that way.
You know, there have been other golfers out there that have flown under the radar when they've done exceptionally well on the golf course, whether they've won majors or other golf tournaments. And they like it that way.
If you feel comfortable in your zone or bubble of life, stay there and don't disrupt and get out of it. Zach qualified and he wanted to play, and that was just, from our perspective, what this tournament is all about.
People are hearing the reputation of the tournament the condition of the golf course, the atmosphere of staying here at the Ritz Carlton. So he wanted to come play and we said, Come on. You're in.
Q. With all the money that's out there today in professional golf, do you sense or see that the desire is still there for the players to do well in the major tournaments? Do you think that maybe all that money now is making the people not want to work that hard to get to reap those rewards?
GREG NORMAN: I would say for a percentage, but not the top percentage. You take the top 20 to 25 players in the world I would say that they would all be gunning to want to win a major championship. There are some players that are more realistic. They sit back and they can make themselves $1 to $3 million a year not really pushing themselves that hard and worrying about the pressure of winning championships.
If you go win a championship you got to go win another one. If you win another one you got to keep adding on to it. So that pressure keeps building and building and building, and that only comes from yourself. Doesn't come from anybody else.
So, you know, again it's sort of about that bubble of life. With Zach, the personality that he has, he's not going to change because he's a Masters champion. I have seen people change when they get to the top and they don't like. They want to go back to where they feel comfortable and their position in life.
So it takes a very strong-minded person to be in the top of any sport or any business. It really does. If you want to be the best you got to really take it all on. There's a lot crap that comes your way that you don't want, and you got to accept it for whatever reason. It gets thrown at you whether you want it or not.
That's why there are the few that are the leaders, and they do take that responsibility on for their own good, and for their own gain they keep the priorities at the foremost and deal with everything else extremely well. The answer to your question is yes. I think there has been a little bit of complacency within a percentage the players because of the amount of dollars they play for.
You got to remember, I used to play where you could make the cut, qualify to Sunday, and never make a check because there wasn't enough money around. You had to play hard, and if you didn't make the cut you had to qualify on Monday to play the next week. There was always pressure on us, and the only way we could get better was to perform.
The more you perform, the better you perform, the better you got paid. It's the same in this world. The best players get paid the most right now. But the block of players that weren't as good as the top players had to play that much harder to get better.
Now you can make the cut, make $5,000, move on to the next week. Do that a few times a year, multiply that by $5,000 plus all the other endorsements you've got, finishing dead last every week, you know, it's not a bad living.
JOHN BUSH: Thank you. Greg. We appreciate it.
End of FastScripts