Still swing­ing

HIS CON­NEC­TIONS GO ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP. GREG NOR­MAN OPENS UP ABOUT HIS BUSI­NESS EM­PIRE, PRI­VATE LIFE AND ONE-MAN DIPLO­MATIC MIS­SION

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy James Cant By Cameron Ste­wart

Greg Nor­man: rich, con­nected

Mal­colm Turn­bull: Good evening. Don­ald Trump: Mr Prime Min­is­ter, how are you? Turn­bull: I am do­ing very well. Trump: And I guess our friend Greg Nor­man, he is do­ing very well? Turn­bull: He is a great mu­tual friend, yes. Trump: Well you say hello to him, he is a very good friend…

It turns out that this was the nicest part of the fa­mously frac­tious tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Turn­bull and the new US Pres­i­dent in Jan­uary. By the end of it, when Trump had all but hung up on

­Turn­bull, the lead­ers strug­gled to find com­mon ground on any­thing much. Ex­cept Greg Nor­man.

Seven months on, Nor­man sits on a ch­ester­field couch in the study of his Jupiter Is­land home in Florida and pon­ders Trump’s ­un­usual de­ci­sion to use him as an ice-breaker on the front line of in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy. “First of all I was dis­ap­pointed that tran­scripts like that would be leaked out, I think it’s dis­grace­ful how that can hap­pen,” Nor­man says sternly of the leaked phone con­ver­sa­tion. Then his face bright­ens. “But at the end of the day it does show the truth of how it hap­pened. It val­i­dated me be­cause a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly spec­u­lated, ‘Well, did he re­ally do it, did he not do it?’”

The “it” that Nor­man is talk­ing about is the one-man diplo­matic cam­paign he con­ducted for Aus­tralia when he re­alised that his friend and some­time golf­ing part­ner was about to be the next US pres­i­dent. It be­gan in the hours af­ter Trump’s vic­tory in Novem­ber when Nor­man, at the re­quest of Aus­tralia’s am­bas­sador in Wash­ing­ton, Joe Hockey, gave Trump’s pri­vate mo­bile num­ber to Turn­bull so he could call to con­grat­u­late him.

But less well known is the fact that sev­eral weeks later, on Novem­ber 26, Nor­man de­cided to reach out per­son­ally to Trump in the hope of ­bet­ter ed­u­cat­ing the bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper about Aus­tralia. “I was at a din­ner [func­tion] with ­Don­ald at [his Florida club] Mar-a-Lago and I wanted to re­lay a mes­sage to him about the im­por­tance of the al­liance be­tween Aus­tralia and the US,” he says. “I thought it was very im­por­tant for Don­ald to be aware of the re­la­tion­ship of ‘big brother, lit­tle brother’ that has evolved over decades. So I was at din­ner with him and I ac­tu­ally went across to him and said, ‘ This is an im­por­tant mes­sage I want to get to you’.” Trump, how­ever, was dis­tracted by oth­ers around him at the large func­tion and Nor­man strug­gled to get the new pres­i­dent’s full at­ten­tion. “I felt like it went right over his head and it dis­ap­pointed me,” he says.

At that mo­ment Nor­man spot­ted then White House chief of staff Reince Priebus walk­ing across the room. “I just got up and in­ter­cepted him. I said, ‘Reince, this is im­por­tant, you’ve got to get this mes­sage to Don­ald [about the al­liance]’.” He be­lieves Priebus did speak to Trump about the al­liance and since then Nor­man says he has had a very “com­fort­able re­la­tion­ship” with the Trump White House. He can pick up the phone and get straight through to the most se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures. “That’s how I started back-chan­nelling the whole thing be­cause to me I am a very proud ­Aus­tralian… and I wanted to put it in front of him so it is on his radar screen in the Oval Of­fice.”

It might seem odd to many that a for­mer golf player would seek to play a role in in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy or that he would even get the op­por­tu­nity. But ever since Nor­man burst into the spot­light in the early 1980s with his swash­buck­ling golf game and trade­mark white hair it was clear the so-called Great White Shark was mo­ti­vated by more than golf. As a player in the ’80s and ’90s he held the sport­ing world in thrall with his do-or-die ap­proach to the game that saw him hold the num­ber one rat­ing for an as­ton­ish­ing 331 weeks, sec­ond only to Tiger Woods. He amassed 91 ­in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment wins in­clud­ing 20 PGA Tour tour­na­ments and two Bri­tish Opens, be­com­ing the first golfer to sur­pass $US10 mil­lion in ca­reer earn­ings. Even while play­ing, Nor­man was build­ing up a busi­ness em­pire that would dwarf the money he earned as the world’s best golf player. Along the way he struck up friend­ships with pres­i­dents, prime min­is­ters and global CEOs. For Nor­man, life af­ter golf has al­ways shim­mered far be­yond the club­house.

Now, at the age of 62, this grand­fa­ther of two should surely be wind­ing down, re­flect­ing on his golf­ing ca­reer, en­joy­ing his Florida man­sion and his Colorado ranch and trav­el­ling the world with his wife Kirsten (“Kiki”) in his pri­vate ­Gulf­stream V jet em­bla­zoned with his shark logo. But ­Nor­man is rest­less, hun­gry for the next ­chal­lenge. “Dis­rupt or be dis­rupted,” he says, ­echo­ing a phi­los­o­phy he has car­ried from his golf to his busi­ness ca­reer. He texts pres­i­dents, ex-pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters about world af­fairs, is div­ing into am­bi­tious new busi­ness ­ven­tures and has even be­come a ma­ture-aged poster boy for fit­ness af­ter an ­In­sta­gram shot of him bathing naked and flaunt­ing a ripped body in Colorado went vi­ral.

“He is tire­less,” says Kirsten, 49, his wife of seven years. “He is up at 6am ev­ery morn­ing ­mak­ing me cof­fee, says good morn­ing to the kids and then gets straight to work. He sets a goal and never slacks off un­til it is done. I have not en­coun­tered many peo­ple with his tena­cious work ethic.”

On the swel­ter­ing Florida sum­mer morn­ing of my visit, Nor­man has al­ready texted Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay, prime min­is­ter of the re­mote Hi­malayan king­dom of Bhutan – who he met dur­ing a re­cent visit there – about a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute on ­Bhutan’s north­ern bor­der. Nor­man’s pala­tial house sits on a coastal wa­ter­way at the end of a long, palm-fringed drive­way. I am greeted by a three-legged dog called Guin­ness and by Nor­man wear­ing a laven­der polo shirt, blue shorts and thongs. The house is im­mac­u­late, dec­o­rated with Kirsten’s de­sign flair in a beach theme and flanked by a huge swim­ming pool with div­ing board. Nearby are the ten­nis courts and gym. We walk past cab­i­nets of sil­ver golf tro­phies into his study, where his mes­sage ma­chine con­stantly beeps in the back­ground. From his study the view ex­tends to the wa­ter­way and his boat Aussie Rules, past his ­pri­vate putting green and two flag­poles, one bear­ing an ­Aus­tralian flag, the other the Stars and Stripes.

De­spite be­ing a res­i­dent of the US since 1981 and there­fore speak­ing with a dis­tinct US twang, Nor­man has never sought US cit­i­zen­ship. “I could have two pass­ports but I only need one and that’s an Aus­tralian one,” he says. When Aus­tralia and

the United States com­mem­o­rated the 75th ­an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of the Co­ral Sea at a gala din­ner in New York in May, it was Nor­man who stood on stage in front of Trump and Turn­bull to hon­our the Aus­tralian and US vet­er­ans.

“If I may say, be­cause of my love of both ­coun­tries for over four decades, ‘Lit­tle Brother’ Aus­tralia has gone above and be­yond what ‘Big Brother’ Amer­ica ever ex­pected, con­tin­u­ally strength­en­ing an al­liance, a bond forged by the com­mon themes of free­dom and democ­racy, for not just our peo­ple, but for the world,” he said as the Pres­i­dent and the Prime Min­is­ter sat watch­ing.

Nor­man de­scribes him­self as a Repub­li­can and an avowed con­ser­va­tive. Even be­fore Trump’s elec­tion he was an un­abashed fan of the bil­lion- aire and not only be­cause he was a friend. He be­lieved Trump would pro­vide bet­ter con­di­tions for busi­nesses such as his own and a wel­come ­dis­rup­tion to Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal sta­tus quo. “I’ve prob­a­bly known him since the early 1990s ­play­ing golf with him, and then he bought a cou­ple of golf cour­ses I de­signed,” Nor­man says.

At the Co­ral Sea din­ner, Trump re­ferred to their friend­ship. “Thanks to the leg­endary tal­ented golfer Greg Nor­man,” Trump said. “I used to think I was a great player and then I played with Greg one time and I said I’m not go­ing to play again for a while.”

But their re­la­tion­ship has had its ups and downs. Nor­man was fu­ri­ous at Trump when, with­out ­telling him, Trump hired some­one else to mod­ify Nor­man-de­signed golf cour­ses he had bought. “I was frus­trated [by Trump],” he says. “To me it was a pro­fes­sional cour­tesy, I mean I would have liked it if he had called me up and said, ‘Greg you’ve done a fan­tas­tic job with it but I’ve got a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with some­one else’ and I would have been fine.”

Ten days be­fore the Novem­ber 8 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, he called Trump to say he be­lieved he would win. “I said to him, ‘Don’t change your strat­egy, stay true to your­self and you will stay true to your fol­low­ers’,” he re­calls. Shortly af­ter Trump’s vic­tory, Nor­man wrote: “Don­ald, for all his blus­ter, rhetoric and ag­gres­sive style of ­mes­sag­ing, caught the at­ten­tion of those that needed a rud­der for their for­got­ten ship and be­liefs. Like it or not he made a poignant and pow­er­ful im­pact on a base that sat sadly alien­ated.”

Af­ter Trump’s first tur­bu­lent 100 days, Nor­man was still an un­abashed op­ti­mist. “I think he has ad­justed very well go­ing from the board­room to the Oval Of­fice… ev­ery day he be­comes more pres­i­den­tial,” he said at the time. Now, more than seven months into his pres­i­dency and with Trump bounc­ing from con­tro­versy to con­tro­versy, ­Nor­man is a lit­tle more cir­cum­spect. “How is he go­ing? I think he is his own worst en­emy right now,” he says. “It is his per­son­al­ity. He is go­ing to do what he wants and say what he wants but I think in the po­si­tion he is in you have got to take a mo­ment to re­flect and not re­act. Think about what’s com­ing out of your mouth. Al­low it to churn around in your brain a lit­tle bit more and then bring it out, be­cause he is the leader of the free world.

“I have been for­tu­nate enough to be around a few of them, very very states­men­like guys like the Bushes and Clin­ton, and to see the dif­fer­ence in the way they con­ducted them­selves as lead­ers [com­pared with Trump] it is like chalk and cheese. But he has the Stars and Stripes run­ning through his blood, I mean it is thick for him. Pop­ulism will get you elected but you can’t run on that in the White House… He is get­ting in his own way and if he steps back a lit­tle bit and al­lows the process to evolve I think it will be a dif­fer­ent story.”

From a busi­ness point of view, Nor­man says Trump is do­ing well. “Some of the poli­cies he has put through are fall­ing un­der the radar but I think he has done a good job with that and from a ­busi­ness per­spec­tive it’s all the stuff that I’ve been hop­ing for for the past eight years. [Un­der Barack Obama] we saw a dra­matic change in the way we had to do busi­ness, whether it was health­care or hir­ing peo­ple or grow­ing the com­pany, it has been very very painful for eight years be­cause of the busi­ness reg­u­la­tions that are im­posed on us.”

Nor­man also re­mains good friends with for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, de­spite his friend­ship with Trump and the fact that Trump de­feated Clin­ton’s wife Hil­lary. It was a friend­ship that al­most never hap­pened be­cause Nor­man nearly re­jected a re­quest by the then pres­i­dent Clin­ton to play golf with him dur­ing a visit to Aus­tralia in 1996 on the grounds that Clin­ton was a Demo­crat. Nor­man sought ad­vice from an­other pres­i­den­tial golf­ing buddy, for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush Sr, who said he should go along. The two men played and got on so well that they be­came solid friends. The fol­low­ing year Clin­ton fa­mously tum­bled down the stairs of Nor­man’s Florida home at 1.20am, rip­ping the ten­dons in his knee and ­putting the pres­i­dent on crutches for eight weeks.

In 2009, when Nor­man’s neigh­bour Tiger Woods – who has never said more than 20 words to Nor­man, de­spite liv­ing a kilo­me­tre down the road – was go­ing through his messy break-up with his wife over his in­fi­deli­ties, Nor­man re­ceived a phone call from Clin­ton. “He called me up when I was in the back­yard hit­ting balls,” re­calls Nor­man. “He said, ‘Greg, go down there and talk to Tiger, you are the only one who can talk to him and tell him how he’s got to han­dle this.”

“I said, ‘ Mr Pres­i­dent, I can’t talk with him. I don’t know him’.”

Says Nor­man: “I had the same friend­ship with Hawkie [for­mer La­bor prime min­is­ter Bob Hawke]. Just like Clin­ton, we were po­lit­i­cal op­po­sites but our re­la­tion­ship was re­ally good; you can have a free-flow­ing dis­cus­sion and de­bate about what I see and what they see.”

He is also close with Lucy and Mal­colm ­Turn­bull, with whom he has shared sev­eral ­din­ners. “He is a pretty savvy busi­ness­man,” says Nor­man. “We have shared ideas about how to help

i wanted to put aus­tralia on the radar in the oval of­fice

peo­ple and how to un­lock value in cer­tain things so we have had some fas­ci­nat­ing con­ver­sa­tions.”

De­spite his stel­lar golf­ing ca­reer and busi­ness suc­cess, Nor­man has had a some­times rocky ­re­la­tion­ship with the me­dia and is pro­tec­tive of his rep­u­ta­tion. He at­tracted tabloid head­lines over his love life when in 2006 he had a bit­ter di­vorce from his wife of 25 years, Laura An­drassy, and wooed for­mer Amer­i­can ten­nis star Chris Evert. His tur­bu­lent mar­riage to Evert ended in 2009 af­ter only 17 months. Nor­man be­lieves some of the re­port­ing wrongly por­trayed him as be­ing a cad and says it has taught him not to judge oth­ers.

“I’ve got the phi­los­o­phy that if you judge some­body on the opin­ions of oth­ers you don’t judge them, you judge your­self,” he says. “I made that big mis­take with [Bill] Clin­ton and I’ve never done it again. There are al­ways two sides to ev­ery story [so] don’t lay ac­cu­sa­tions and as­sump­tions when you re­ally don’t know the other side. I still find it very frus­trat­ing be­cause I’ve lost a lot of friends be­cause of the me­dia re­port­ing and they as­sumed I was that way and I wasn’t. And I go, ‘ Hey, that’s your choice, I am go­ing to meet a lot of other won­der­ful peo­ple in the world, I don’t need bag­gage.’ But that is what the me­dia do, they can cre­ate a firestorm out of noth­ing that stays with you for­ever.”

Nor­man mar­ried Kirsten in 2010 in a pri­vate cer­e­mony on Richard Bran­son’s Necker Is­land in the Caribbean. Kirsten, who is half Ger­man and half Filipino, has lived all over the world but grew up mostly in Syd­ney, where she at­tended Kil­lara High School, model Elle Macpher­son’s alma mater. A suc­cess­ful in­te­rior de­signer, she has two daugh­ters, Kaya, 13, and Kelly, 10, from her first mar­riage to Zurich-based fi­nancier Neal Kut­ner.

“Greg and I have known each other since the early ’90s when my par­ents in­tro­duced us but be­tween all our mar­riages/di­vorces and kids, we even­tu­ally lost touch,” she says. “He fi­nally tracked me down in Switzer­land through a mu­tual friend when his mar­riage to Chrissy was over. He sent me an email on my birth­day, fol­lowed by a phone call and the rest is his­tory. The tim­ing was per­fect.”

She says her life with Nor­man is a fast-mov­ing blur of work and plea­sure. “On any given day, when the kids are at school, I am man­ag­ing staff, prop­er­ties, ren­o­va­tions, work­ing as lead de­signer on his real es­tate de­vel­op­ment projects, brain­storm­ing new busi­ness ideas with him, meet­ing dig­ni­taries or celebri­ties and at­tend­ing func­tions and events all over the coun­try,” she says. “Each day with Greg is dif­fer­ent from the next.”

When they are not work­ing or en­ter­tain­ing, Kirsten says they spend their time “at home alone, bare­foot, with mu­sic on drink­ing chilled wine in the swel­ter­ing Florida heat. There is noth­ing bet­ter than relaxing with Greg, he is my ab­so­lute best friend. Phys­i­cally, his en­ergy is electric. When he turns his steely gaze on you it is al­most un­nerv­ing. He is such an in­ter­est­ing man, who is cu­ri­ously not ego­tis­ti­cal or vain but in­stead he is fiercely pro­tec­tive, thought­ful, sen­si­tive, de­voted, af­fec­tion­ate and ro­man­tic.” His weak­ness? “His lack of pa­tience and his un­will­ing­ness or in­abil­ity to for­give.”

When home in Florida, Nor­man be­gins most days work­ing in his of­fice from early morn­ing un­til around 2pm. He goes to his gym around 4pm to work out for up to two hours be­fore relaxing with a glass of wine with his wife for an hour at 6.30 each night. Both of Nor­man’s adult chil­dren live down the road. His daugh­ter Mor­gan, 35, runs his wine busi­ness, while his son Gre­gory Jr, 32, is a pro­fes­sional kite-surfer and a part-owner of a wake­board­ing park with Nor­man.

When­ever pos­si­ble, Nor­man and Kirsten re­treat to his $55 mil­lion Seven Lakes Ranch in Colorado, where at least once a year they ride horses into the wilder­ness for three or four nights’ camp­ing un­der the stars. Their last ride achieved un­ex­pected global no­to­ri­ety when Nor­man jumped off his horse and took a naked bath in a moun­tain lake, look­ing more like a se­nior mem­ber of the Chip­pen­dales male re­vue than a grand­fa­ther. “It was quite warm up there so I just jumped in and my wife said ‘you look hot’ and she took a pho­to­graph and said, ‘ Why don’t you In­sta­gram this?’

“I thought, ‘ Oh shit’, but I didn’t think [it would go vi­ral]. I love my In­sta­gram ac­count be­cause it is me. Some peo­ple think I am show­boat­ing but I am not, that is me,” he says.

Their visit to the ranch last month was ­es­pe­cially poignant for Nor­man be­cause his whole fam­ily – Mor­gan and Gre­gory Jr, his mother Toini, sis­ter Ja­nis and two grand­chil­dren Har­ri­son, three, and Hen­drix, one – came to­gether to cel­e­brate his fa­ther Mervyn’s 90th birth­day. Nor­man says he opened up for the first time to his fa­ther about his busi­ness em­pire and his plans for the Nor­man name to con­tinue long af­ter his death. “The most pow­er­ful mo­ments for my fa­ther and me was that we dis­ap­peared off and talked,” he says. “He wanted to know all about my busi­ness. It was re­ally cathar­tic for me be­cause I don’t open up to any­one, I don’t talk about the de­tails of what is hap­pen­ing.”

While most suc­cess­ful golfers man­age to make a liv­ing from their name for a while af­ter they re­tire, Nor­man mor­phed early into a fully fledged en­tre­pre­neur. At the age of 32, when he had more than 20 years of play­ing ahead of him, he started de­sign­ing and build­ing golf cour­ses. In 1993, still at the height of his play­ing ca­reer, he took what he calls “the big­gest shot I ever made in my life” by leav­ing the se­cu­rity of the sports man­age­ment com­pany IMG to cre­ate his own com­pany, Great White Shark En­ter­prises.

“I had no ed­u­ca­tion about how to do it; I had no guid­ance of that. I be­lieved in my­self and it just evolved.” And evolve it did. He has since de­vel­oped his own wine com­pany, Greg Nor­man Es­tates, an ap­parel com­pany fo­cus­ing on golf-­in­spired ­sports­wear, an in­te­rior de­sign group, a real es­tate de­vel­op­ment com­pany, an eye­wear com­pany, a

pre­mium brand of Aus­tralian Wagyu beef, a debt lend­ing com­pany for small busi­ness, an Aus­tralianstyle bar­be­cue grill restau­rant in South Carolina, a wake­board­ing park and a golf academy. He has de­signed and built 102 golf cour­ses around the world with a fur­ther 14 un­der con­struc­tion and 34 un­der con­tract. Nor­man won’t re­veal fi­nan­cial de­tails of his com­pany ex­cept to say his busi­ness is “very com­fort­able”, but in 2012 US Golf Di­gest mag­a­zine es­ti­mated he was worth $235 mil­lion.

De­spite his suc­cess, Nor­man got a shock ­sev­eral years ago when fo­cus groups of mil­len­ni­als told him that while they liked the com­pany’s shark logo and name, they didn’t link it to Greg Nor­man. “They were like, ‘Who are you?’” he says. “Our logo was old and stale and our po­si­tion was in with the baby-boomers,” he says. “So I said we need to give our­selves a 200-year hori­zon to grow the legacy of the brand into per­pe­tu­ity post my death.” In ­Oc­to­ber last year, Nor­man re­branded his busi­ness en­ter­prise with a new, sleeker-look­ing shark logo, call­ing it sim­ply the Greg Nor­man Com­pany.

Nor­man says that when he told the full story of his busi­ness em­pire to his fa­ther in Colorado for the first time, it was a mo­ment to cher­ish. “So for my dad to sit there [and hear all this], I mean you could just see him welling up with pride.”

Nor­man still feels deeply grate­ful for the ­idyl­lic child­hood his par­ents blessed him with. Born in Mt Isa, he grew up in Townsville from the age of three months and spent his days div­ing, fish­ing and rid­ing horses along the beach. Af­ter Mervyn, an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer, moved the fam­ily to Bris­bane when Nor­man was 14, his mother asked him to caddy for her while she played golf. It was an in­spired move. Barely 18 months later he was a scratch golfer, and at the age of 21 he turned pro­fes­sional.

Although Nor­man last played a tour­na­ment in 2012 at the age of 57, he has never of­fi­cially re­tired. “I never wanted to be a cer­e­mo­nial golfer and I never wanted to have a re­tire­ment and say, ‘This is my last sea­son’,” he says. “Ev­ery­body wanted me to do that but I said, ‘No, I’m just go­ing to ride off into the dis­tance’.” He is scep­ti­cal he will ever re­turn to the game at the top level be­cause of his busi­ness com­mit­ments and the fact that he hates to prac­tise. But he says his body is fit enough if he changes his mind. “If I started to­day and gave my­self six months of get­ting honed and sharp­ened up, I bet you I could com­pete.”

Even if he doesn’t play again at the high­est level, Nor­man says he is proud of his ca­reer. “Look, I prob­a­bly ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions when I was an as­sis­tant pro at the Royal Queens­land Golf Club mak­ing $28 a week,” he laughs. “I al­ways wanted to be the best that I could be but I never had any ­con­cept that it would take me to num­ber one in the world. So when I look back on it, you can look at it in two ways. I can be ex­tremely ­dis­ap­pointed be­cause I could have won a lot more ma­jors than I did, but at the same time I never ex­pected to do as well as I did, so I am very prag­matic about it.”

He re­mains sen­si­tive about the “choker” tag that some gave him af­ter he squan­dered big leads for a tragic run of sec­ond-place fin­ishes. In 1986, he led all four golf ma­jors into the fi­nal round but won only one of them. “The word choker is a me­dia word,” says Nor­man, who still gets ­an­i­mated by the topic. “If I sound de­fen­sive or ­pro­tec­tive, all I can say is that ev­ery in­di­vid­ual in this world has been con­fronted with a sit­u­a­tion where they made a mis­take. Is that a choke? No, it’s not a choke be­cause there are out­side agen­cies that cre­ate that sit­u­a­tion. So it’s very easy to throw this shit against the wall and say he choked… it’s go­ing to stay for­ever no mat­ter what I say. [But] when peo­ple look back on it and re­flect on their lives, I bet there are times when they say, ‘ Oops’.”

Over­all, Nor­man looks back fondly on the game and the life it gave him. “Be­cause of my per­son­al­ity I em­braced the mo­ments, I wore my heart on my sleeve a lot of times, I met won­der­ful peo­ple from lead­ers of the free world to prime min­is­ters to CEOs. It wasn’t the golfers but the peo­ple out­side of golf who re­ally helped me to get where I am to­day.”

He still takes a keen in­ter­est in the game and is a men­tor to Aus­tralia’s cur­rent crop of stars in­clud­ing Adam Scott and Ja­son Day. He watched “with tears in my eyes” as Scott won the 2013 US Masters, the tour­na­ment whose tro­phy eluded Nor­man. Straight af­ter his win, the then 32-year-old Scott said of Nor­man: “He in­spired a na­tion of golfers, any­one near to my age, older and younger, he was the best player in the world and he was an icon in Aus­tralia… Part of this is for him be­cause he has given me so much time and in­spi­ra­tion and be­lief.”

“It meant a lot to me,” says Nor­man, who was deeply moved by Scott’s im­promptu trib­ute in front of the golf­ing world. “To be a men­tor to some de­gree is the most re­ward­ing thing in the world.”

Now, hap­pily mar­ried and with his busi­nesses grow­ing, he is pon­der­ing the big­gest up­heaval of all: a pos­si­ble re­turn to Aus­tralia af­ter al­most 40 years in the US. “I would love to go back and have a place there, ac­tu­ally,” he says. “I would love to have a vine­yard. I don’t know where; I love Mar­garet River, I love the Barossa Val­ley, the Yarra Val­ley, the Hunter Val­ley.” Kirsten is even keener to re­turn to Aus­tralia. “I love Aus­tralia,” she says. “Aus­tralians are very hip and trendy and the ­cul­ture is much more in­ter­est­ing than Florida. I am a very chilled beach girl at heart so I hope one day to move back with Greg to build our dream home some­where in Queens­land.”

Nor­man ad­mits he is flirt­ing with the idea more of­ten. “I oc­ca­sion­ally go on realestate.com.au on a rainy Sun­day morn­ing with a cup of cof­fee and surf the Aus­tralian real es­tate mar­ket for a cou­ple of hours.” But this rest­less old golfer, en­tre­pre­neur and self-styled diplo­mat is un­likely to move home just yet. For now, he is too busy scan­ning the hori­zon for new op­por­tu­ni­ties in Trump’s Amer­ica.

Some peo­ple think I’m show­boat­ing but I am not, that is me

Call­ing the shots: with Bill Clin­ton in Syd­ney, 1996; with wife Kirsten

Golf­ing bud­dies: with Don­ald Trump in an In­sta­gram post

Good life: with par­ents Merv and Toini; at his ranch; with Adam Scott

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