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December 9, 2010
DAVE SENKO: Greg, welcome to the 2010 Shark Shootout. Maybe first off just talk about your field. You've got to be very pleased with the field you put together this year. I know a lot people have said this might be your strongest ever.
GREG NORMAN: Well, no question about it it's the strongest ever. I don't think it's a field that I put together, I think it's a field that the guys wanted to come and play.
That was the beautiful part about it. There wasn't one situation where I had to go really approach one of the players in the field and say, Hey, please play, please play, please play. They all said, I'll play.
I think it's just a reflection on the tournament, the quality and the relaxation of the tournament, probably lot to do with the venue and the reputation it's had over 20, 21 years.
So there's no question about it, I'm proud of all 23 guys for showing up here. We all know the stats, so I don't need to go through them. It's just a who's who of golf this year.
DAVE SENKO: Have some questions.
Q. The state of the game has changed so much. We're seeing the rise of the Europeans, some young players. Can you comment on both aspects of that? What do you think about what we're seeing from Europe, and does it rival what you saw in your time?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think it's great for golf, to tell you the truth. When I was overseas and all this was taking place with the change in the No. 1 player in the world and the Europeans winning the Ryder Cup, I thought, you know, This is just the shot in the arm that the game of golf needs.
We got it with the selection of golf in the Olympics of 2016, but since then, since that announcement, the rest of the world has really kicked into gear, as far as I'm concerned, not only just from the professional standpoint, but from the growth and the development of the game of golf.
It bodes extremely well know for the next, you know, whatever the generation is. We've all seen it in the '80s, and now the pendulum has swung back in the mid-90s to -- well, mid- to late-'90s to 2010 where the Americans really dominated the game of golf to a degree. Now it's swinging back again.
I think it's great for the game of golf. Corporations on a global basis are going to have an incredible basket of talent to pick from for their golf tournaments all over the world. I think it's great for American golf, too, because it's going to stimulate it.
I can only make a comparison from what I see has happened in tennis. American tennis went through the heights of the Samprases and the Agassis and the Jim Couriers and those guys just dominating American tennis for a while. And then it shifted away. Now you're starting to the see the Isners of the world and the young players coming through.
So the pendulum certainly has shifted back to the game of tennis, and now tennis is a more popular game in America for the number of players than there is golfers. So it's just these kind of tectonic plates shifting in a lot of ways, which has happened in earlier decades, and right now it's happening now.
Q. To follow up on that, do you have any idea why the shifts go the way they are? Seems like it's not always that close to 50/50. It seems like it's heavily U.S. or heavily Europe.
GREG NORMAN: Well, to answer your question, I think you get one guy who comes out and dominates like Tiger did, like Nicklaus, or Watson did. That domination really carries the rest along in the carriage in a lot of ways.
A few guys get intimidated by it and they don't want to step up to the plate and beat a Nicklaus or a Watson or a Woods. And so the rest of world looks back and they just all sit back and wait and wait and wait until the vulnerability of whoever is dominating the play.
And it's always -- if you go back over history, it's interesting. I did, and looked at that time, and it's almost like a 15-year time span. I know from Nicklaus and Watson, Watson to Ballesteros and Norman, and then, you know, Norman into the Woods deal, it's almost like a 15-year cycle.
It's actually incredible how it's consistently done. That's got a lot to do with the age of the player, too. When you are dominating the game, people do feel like, Okay, we're playing for second this week. The younger players who are 15, 16, 17, admire this person who is dominating and want to emulate that person. So when they come out and they're ready to play, they come out with no fear.
But that's 10 years down the line. So that individual now instead of being 25, 26, 27 is 35, 36, 37. So you see the older they get, the dominating players, the younger the other players get. So you can understand the cycle it goes through. I think that's why the game of golf is always going to do this. I think it's fantastic.
Now you throw in the Asia Pacific Rim. When I was in China, I was at a conference and they asked me to make a speech, the Central Government did, to the Tourism and Golf Forum in China at not too long ago. The minister before me said that they want 30 million golfers in China in the next years, and there's 3 million now.
So when you think there's 24, 25 million golfers in the United States and it's been that number for decades and decades, imagine when China comes online in 20 years down the line. And then when China comes online, you've already got the Koreans doing extremely well. The development of the game of golf in Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam and Cambodia, to a degree, is just starting to skyrocket. And then you bring in India.
So you got pretty much 50% of the world's population just starting to get into the game of golf. So when now you start looking out into the future, it's extremely healthy. It doesn't matter whether it's American-bases, Australian-based, or whoever the dominating player is, it's going to be shared around the world on a very, very regular basis going forward, I think.
Q. We haven't seen many rivalries because Tiger has won so many majors. Can you talk about the value of rivalries in your game versus one dominant figure?
GREG NORMAN: I think it's priceless. My era, I can only speak about my era. I mean, I loved playing against the Faldos, Ballesteros, Nick Price, Freddy Couples, you know, Jose Maria Olazabal, the Bernhard Langers. You know, everywhere we went in the world, there was probably another three or four guys in that tournament we were playing that were equivalent being No. 1 in the world.
I thought it was fantastic, because it really drove you hard to win. Everybody likes to see one guy dominate, but I like to see it where there's five or six or seven guys who push the other five or six or seven guys to continually play well week in, week out.
I think that's when it really instills a lot healthiness into the game. I think it instills a lot of the competitive drive for the other - I'll call them the top 10 players in the world.
We went through the era with Tiger where nobody ever talked about the top 10 players; they only talked about the No. 1 player. In the '80s and '90s, everybody said, Well, these are the top 10 players in the world. So I thought it was pretty impressive with the quality of players that we had out there week in, week out.
Q. On that topic, did you get a chance to see Graeme McDowell duel Tiger last Sunday, and just your thoughts on what you saw there?
GREG NORMAN: No, I did not. I was actually flying back from Australia at the time. I heard about it when I landed. I went online Monday morning because a friend of mine texted me about, Did you what Graeme did? I said, No, so I obviously went online and obviously looked at it.
It's just when he made that putt at the Ryder Cup, I texted him immediately. I just think to see stuff like that happen -- you know, he's had a phenomenal year. What he did at the U.S. Open, everybody really didn't pick him -- I think Chris Berman was the only guy who actually picked him, if my memory is right.
To see him continue on with that, again, is a stimuli for all the younger players now out there. Not the younger players playing on the TOUR, but the young children coming through who are 12, 13,14. They look up to Graeme and say, God, I remember that. And their parents will remember that.
So, you know, it's a great catalyst to bring more young players to the game. I think it's fantastic. Tiger did it to other people for a long period of time, and now somebody's doing it to him. What goes around comes around.
Q. I know a lot guys have come here this week to win the tournament. I'm sure you're coming here to win the tournament.
GREG NORMAN: Absolutely. You know, I just went out there and practiced in 48 degree temperatures. I'm rusty. I didn't hit a golf ball for 11 months because of my shoulder surgery. I came back and I played a tournament in Switzerland in August; I missed the cut. The next one was the Australian Open last week. So really this will only be my third golf tournament in nearly 18 months, 19 months.
It's been a long dry spell, so I'm still getting a lot of rust off the hinges, to tell you the truth. One thing that I have noticed after a big, long layoff, you do lose a lot of your golfing muscles, no matter how much you workout. What you do, you lose the feel for what the body does during the golf swing. It takes a while to get it back.
Q. Are you back to 100% with the shoulder?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, my shoulder is 100%, yeah. I have no problems with that at all. It was fantastic. I needed it done. It was more extensive than what I thought I needed to have done, and they didn't know until they got in there. Once they were in there, they just kept chiseling away, I guess.
Q. Can you update us on where you're at in the Olympic bid and exactly the process, what you need to do to win that bid and what you've done so far.
GREG NORMAN: Right now there's -- I've teamed up with Lorena Ochoa. You know, I think Nicklaus has teamed up with Annika Sorenstam. I think there are like seven others at the moment; there might be more potential designers putting their hat in the ring.
The whole process goes down now to the start of next year. We've written letters in. It gets boiled down to three designers. Those three designers will then get what we call an RFP, request for proposal. Whoever they are will have to go to the site, I'm assuming. If they win, we'll have to go to the site, take a look at it. I'm actually planning on going to the site early part of next year, or one of the potential sites.
Um, and then those three boil down to the selection sometime the middle part of next year, somewhere around there towards the end of the year. From what I understand, they want to -- whether they redesign a golf course or build a brand new golf course, they want to have a golf tournament there the year before the 2016 Olympics.
So we start rolling the clock back, next year is 2011, go through permitting issues, which I'm sure they're going to be, a year and a half maybe. So now you're in the middle 2012, going into 2013. Normally takes two years to build and grow in a golf course, so now you're right on that window.
So they've got to make a decision here no later than August of next year, I would think.
Q. So your proposal is just a general philosophy?
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, philosophy on what we would do for the game of golf, how we would approach it. In my mind it's not just all about the design and building of the golf course. It's actually -- whoever wins or gets the nod to build this golf course actually has to spend four or five years promoting the game of golf.
I truly believe that. It's not just going out there and getting design job, because it is a big step. I know that the decision to get into 2016 doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be there in 2020. So the success of the event is paramount to 2016. The promotion of the game of golf is paramount for somebody to be able to do it.
I emphasize that and Lorena understands that. She wants to be out there promoting the game of golf from a grassroots level, not just a professional level. So the responsibility of whoever wins this bid is, I think, way beyond the normal aspect of winning a design job.
So I'm excited about it. I've got work in Brazil right now. Lorena is excited about it. Obviously her Spanish heritage and her connections down there are important as well. She loves the idea of being involved with the mix. As a matter of fact. I got an e-mail from her last night asking a few questions about it.
I think it's just tremendous that we have an opportunity of doing it.
Q. How many projects do you have ongoing right now, just ballpark?
GREG NORMAN: I know. I have 43 under contract right now; of those 43, two are in America. So that tells you where...
Q. How many are in the far east?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I'll have to break that down real quickly. Um, the other 40, that would be a third of them would be this the far east.
Q. And that tells you...
GREG NORMAN: The state of the game of golf in America. We see it a long time before going out -- I don't think we'll ever get back to days of building 450 golf courses a year in America. The that's done. I mean, that's history.
I think the thing is if America wants to sit back or our industry wants to sit back and take a study what's happened since the '80s to where we are here today, I think the one word that really resonates, as far as I'm concerned -- and this was part of my speech to the Chinese government -- is sustainability.
Build golf courses with sustainability. And sustainability is not going out there with the slash-and-burn approach and spend $20 million on building a golf course when it should have only been 10. The unlimited budge approach is done now, unless you have a sugar daddy who wants to come in and just build a golf course for himself.
The responsibility now for anybody in the United States and the rest of the world is to build golf courses that can sustain generation after generation after generation. The ongoing cost of the construction of a golf course is huge. The sustainability from environmental issues are huge.
So you've got to be able to make sure those costs are kept down to a minimum, because the cost of living always escalates. So if you start in with a big price tag, that price tag never really gets reduced. It keeps getting higher and higher and higher.
When we look back at what happened in the '80s in America, a lot of the golf courses that were built, you had to have hand labor to maintain 'em. So then the annual dues are very, very expensive, and those annual dues keep multiplying and going up and up and up.
What we're seeing now is the people who love to be members of three, four, five, golf clubs, or two, three, four golf clubs, they're boiling it down to one or two because the dues are just obviously holding them back.
In tough economic times, you know, people's disposable income, you know, you sit back and analyze where it goes and where it shouldn't go. So I've seen that happen here. That's the one word that I use going forward, is sustainability. Sustainability.
Q. One more topic here. Rickie Fowler and Bubba were just in here. You played with Bubba; Rickie you obviously had an interest in bringing him here. They both seem to be players who are very much shot-makers who like to work the ball and hit different shots. What do you think of their games?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I can only comment on Bubba. I've seen Rickie on TV. He has a tremendous amount of club head speed, so, yeah, he can work the golf balls nowadays.
And Bubba the same way. He's got a tremendous amount of feel in his fingertips. I mean, he tries to do things with a sand wedge that people try to do with a 7-iron, which I think is fantastic. It's great for the game of golf.
So, you know, they play the game of golf the way they see it. They're not the way the game of golf the way some people are probably dictating it to them, which is great. Sometimes you live and die by the sword. Just because they're aggressive and shot-making style -- Ballesteros was one of the most aggressive shot makers in the world, and he did pretty good for himself.
I think the depth of talent here in the United states and around the world is extraordinary right now. Whether you go to Rickie Fowler or Ryo Ishikawa or Rory McIlroy, who's talented even though he's probably a little bit older than some of these guys, the depth is there.
I'm just naming names. There are kids out there that I see on the driving range at golf tournaments, even in Australia, Asian kids. Watching them swing the golf club, you go, Wow, that's pretty impressive. They're just got to get the confidence and get going.
Q. David Duvall has always faced a good amount of scrutiny over his career. I don't know how much of that may be the task of being No. 1 ranked at one time, if that's a great part of it. Just your thoughts on sort of a long road for him in that respect.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think you make the road that you want to be on yourself. I think when you -- there are a lot of people who aspire to be the No. 1 player in the world. When they get there, the other responsibilities come flooding in on you, and you never consider it. Once it happens, you either accept it and run with it because you know how to manage it, or you go, Oh, I'm getting out of here, and back off until you find the comfort zone, which might be 2, 3, 4, or 5 in the world, or whatever it is.
So it affects different people different ways. Same thing happened Ian Woosnam. He went through the same thing. You know, he's such a great player, but he just -- the extra responsibilities I think were just a bit more of a burden than he wanted to put on his shoulders.
So that's why I say you pave the road you want to walk down yourself. You know, David has always been a great player. I like to see him come back the way he does. You know, a little bit the spits and spurts. It goes to show you that he still has the internal drive to want to do it.
I hope his road has straightened out for him, to tell you the truth.
Q. Any thoughts on looking ahead it to 2001 playing-wise now that you've gotten over the shoulder surgery?
GREG NORMAN: No, not at all. To be honest with you, my competitive drive is more in the development and growth of game of golf on a global basis now, not on the golf course, even though I do play some golf.
I love it when I go to China and a make I a speech or when get involved with foundations or academies in China or South America or wherever we go. In Vietnam, it's just -- I really, really do enjoy doing that. That's my new path that I kind of paved myself, like I just said.
I'm going to do it, because I see the chances for the game of golf almost doubling in the number of participants in the game of golf over the next 20, 25 years is huge. If I just have one tiny piece of that, it's going to be so rewarding for me.
DAVE SENKO: Thanks, Greg.
End of FastScripts