Greg Norman – Golf’s Great Evangelist

Robb Report sits down with Australian sporting great to talk golf’s growth and coming home.

By Stephen Corby 26/06/2021

Greg Norman, arguably Australia’s greatest golfer and undeniably the country’s most famous, has had a headline-grabbing run of late.

Not only was the multiple British Open champion hammered and hospitalised by an infectious disease and then a positive Covid test, he garnered even more attention by going viral.

Well, his ‘manhood’ did.

It was in late November that the 66-year-old posted photo of himself walking with his dog on a Floridian beach—a seemingly innocent image that quickly created an internet sensation.

When quizzed about the social-media storm that followed, Norman is, unusually and briefly, coy on the subject.

“Which photo do you mean?” he enquires.

“Ah, the one where it looks like you’ve packed an extra club in your bag?”

“Ha! Well, that’s just a reaction that people had, there was no intent or malice, or gloating going on, it’s just how people see things,” he chuckles, before turning dead serious. “It is what it is—what you see is what you get.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Norman says he enjoys social media and wishes he’d had access back in the 1980s and ’90s, when he spent 331 weeks as the world’s number one, claiming 89 professional tournaments—including two British Open Championships.

“Certain media judge you or portray you in the wrong light, they get to tell your story for you. But with social media, you can just portray yourself, tell the true story about exactly what’s going on, and speak directly to your fans, and I still have quite a following,” he explains.

As for the bout of Covid-19 that saw him posting “this hideous virus” had “kicked the crap out of me like nothing I have ever experienced before” last December, he’s clearly moved past that, too.

“I was not frightened at all, I’m very fit and very strong, mentally, and I had great doctors around me. I’m bulletproof now, and I’m fully vaccinated … But I still can’t fly to Australia without quarantining, apparently,” he says, with more than a touch of bitterness.

Greg Norman – Sandals Emerald Bay

The proud Queenslander says he thinks about moving back to Australia every second day. He misses the way it sounds—the birdlife in the background when he talks to his parents on the phone hits him particularly hard, alongside the smells, the people, even the coffee.

Reports that he’s planning to return after more than 30 years of being based in the United States are “not fake news, I will move back,” he says.

Norman recently sold his waterfront Florida estate, Tranquility, for $78m, after buying it for $6.4m in 1991. A month later he also let go of his Seven Lakes Lodge in Colorado. Purchased for $12m in 2004, the mansion fetched $52m—an impressive profit in just 17 years.

He’s also reportedly scaling back on his vast business empire—made up of no less than 13 companies, including a wine brand, a wagyu beef importer, a restaurant and his famous clothing line, featuring the emblematic Great White Shark logo.

Norman may step away from as many as half of those businesses, though he’s adamant it’s not a case of slowing down nor, God forbid, retiring.

“Not at all, it’s just a stage in life where a lot of the businesses are self-sustaining, so I don’t have to be focused on them as much as I have been since 1993; it’s just a natural progression of what you do in business,” he explains.

“I don’t plan on stopping, I enjoy what I do in my work and every month there’s a new opportunity that comes across my desk, so you explore that, you run it to ground, you pursue it.”

The one business he’ll never, ever let go, though, is golf-course design: “I’ll do that until the day I die, it’s one of my passions.”

It allows him to continue what he sees as his life’s work—being an evangelist for the game. Ask him what it is about golf that people—from the presidents he’s played with to the kid swinging a club in a Queensland backyard—love so much, and he lights up with pure passion.

“It’s a social thing, for a start, males and females connect really well on the golf course, and it’s a friendly environment, but it can also be competitive, and it’s fun—you can make jokes, you can rib each other, you can gamble. It’s just that environment that the game of golf can give individuals—four to five hours where you’re away from everything else,” he enthuses.

“And it’s a great place to do business, too; I’ve met some wonderful CEOs through the game of golf and had opportunities that wouldn’t have happened without the game.

“And some of the things I’ve seen golf do, the opening up of tournaments on mainland China, I’ve seen Dubai grow out of the desert, the way the game has grown in Sweden, how it’s exploded in South Korea, and Japan, and South America, guys coming out of those places to win majors.

“It’s been a pleasure to see, and for me it’s been an honour, honestly. I pride myself on my golf diplomacy, and it’s just been incredible to see the growth in the game over the years.”

Course design, in particular (which has seen his company, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, create more than 100 courses across 34 countries and six continents) is how he’s been able to continue carrying his golfing message around the globe over the past three decades.

“I get a lot of incredible feedback, and I get to see the world through a different prism because it takes me to so many different countries, designing courses in places like Dubai, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, the way golf is taking off there, for Saudi women to be allowed to get out there and play golf, that’s been amazing to see.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Norman says his favourite course in the world is not one of his own, nor the immaculate concept that is Augusta National, home of The Masters. Speaking of which, why hasn’t anyone ever just copied that most perfect of courses for all to play?

“My favourite is Royal Melbourne in Australia, it’s just a naturally beautiful golf course,” Norman says. “And you can’t just make another Augusta, it’s like trying to replicate a fingerprint. You’d have to find that exact same piece of topography, with another Rae’s Creek—it’s just not possible.

“People have tried to replicate St Andrews [in Scotland and known as “The Home of Golf”] but you can’t, because it’s all about the place, the atmosphere, the people. That’s what makes it special.”

Good golf-course design is all about “balance”, Norman explains, which means that he’s trying to create holes that are tough enough to host professional tournaments, yet still accessible enough for players with less super-human skills.

Norman has played with plenty of other celebrities and, most notably, many American presidents over the years. It seems to be a job that inspires a love of golf, with Dwight Eisenhower playing more than 800 rounds while in office, and Norman’s friend, Donald Trump, more than 140.

“Anyone who thinks that the leader of the free world plays too much golf doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve known presidents who get up at 3am and go to bed again at 1am—they have a lot to worry about and they need to get away.

“It can be so cathartic for them to just get away, to get out on the grass, so I don’t begrudge any leader that.”

Are they good golfers?

“No, and Donald Trump is better than all of them, but they’re very interesting people.

“The most enjoyable person I ever played golf with was George W. Bush Senior, who loved to play fast. If it took more than an hour and a half to play 18 holes, that was too slow for him. He had things to do.

“I admired him more than most—he’d been head of the CIA and just his bandwidth for knowing what was going on in the world, his level of knowledge, was as good or better than anyone else. And he was just a genuinely lovely guy.”

Clearly, Norman is looking forward to getting back to Australia. And, in good news for local hackers (and those less familiar with the rough), you can expect The Great White Shark to pour himself into the creation of more local projects, like the first Norman Estates residences announced for Sydney’s Gledswood Hills, which are being developed by Sekisui House.

“We will definitely be doing more work in Australia—there are opportunities there on our plate right now; we’ve just got to get down there.”

sekisuihouse.com.au

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected