On the eve of the first round in La Quinta, California, I was going through Wednesday’s transcripts from the Humana Challenge and, no surprise, one of the four was Greg Norman. No surprise because Humana’s partner, Bill Clinton, knew that Norman would add prestige to the attempt to revamp the old Bob Hope Classic and recruited him to play in the event.
Over the period from September of 1986 to January off 1998, Norman was the No. 1 player in the world for 331 of those weeks. At his peak, he was mastery personified. The shots he hit with his panache and dash made him a legend. Dubbed the Great White Shark because he was from Australia and had a sun-bleached blond mane, the moniker also captured his menacing dominance as a player. He cut quite a figure and he seemed to always be in the hunt…continuing the shark metaphor.
I was interested because I wanted to see if he had anything to say about playing with “the kids” this week. It all seems like just yesterday, but Norman is a month away from being 57 years old. With all of his business interests, he has basically given up playing tournament golf except occasional majors on both the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. In the seven years he’s been eligible for the Champions Tour, he’s only played in 11 official events, most majors. And he did manage a T3 in the 2008 British Open.
I found the interview quite interesting because it’s not really an interview. The media guys ask him a question and instead of providing an excerptible response, he tells a responsive story. I could have excerpted one of the stories, but that would have taken up the entire post and left out a bunch of great stories such as:
— How Clinton came to him to get his opinion on how to revamp the tournament
— Why he was only able to play in the Hope once in 1986
— The almost impossible logistics of a Tour pro having to prepare for playing four courses
— His vindication as the first player to call for a world tour and the future of golf in Asia
— How electrical impulses in the brain affect your putting as you grow older and how that manifests itself
— His love for the courses in his native Australia
— How his friendship with Clinton developed even though he leans Republican
— The very frank and honest nature of their private conversations, but he’s never called him Bill
— A thoughtful exposition on the state of the game and state of golf course development
Hopefully that list will whet your appetite. He’s a very interesting and thoughtful man.
The link to the interview is here and makes for fascinating reading.