US conquered, Norman eyes return home
Greg Norman left Australia for the US in 1981, at the height of the Cold War, shortly after Ronald Reagan became president and U2 released their debut album.
From his base in sun-kissed Florida, he has since carved himself into sporting history as the most exciting golfer of his generation while also creating a business empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars and befriending US presidents from George Bush senior, to Bill Clinton and now Donald Trump.
Thirty-six years on, Norman, now 62, is thinking of coming home. It won’t be tomorrow — he has too many business ventures going on in the US — but the idea has got into his head and he can’t shake it.
“I would love to go back and have a place there actually,” he tells The Weekend Australian in an interview at his Florida home.
“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.
“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.”
Norman’s wife, Kirsten “Kikki” Kutner is also keen to return to Australia, where she grew up and went to a Sydney high school. “I love Australia,” she says. “Australians are very hip and trendy and the culture is much more interest- ing 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.”
Despite living in the US since 1981, Norman has never sought US citizenship and has always worn his love for Australia on his sleeve. In the backyard of his opulent Florida home Norman flies the Australian and US flags sideby-side in front of his boat called “Aussie Rules”.
“I could have two passports but I only need one and that’s an Australian one,” Norman says.
Norman, who is mates with Malcolm Turnbull and Mr
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Trump, says it was his passion for Australia that led him to try to build bridges between the two countries once Mr Trump was elected President.
In The Weekend Australian Magazine today, Norman reveals how he tried to use back-channel diplomacy, including through former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, to get Mr Trump, his former golfing partner, to understand the unique nature of the US-Australia alliance.
“I thought it was very important for Donald to be aware of the relationship of big brother-little brother that has evolved over decades,” he says. “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.”
He is a friend and a fan of Mr Trump, although his initial enthusiasm for his first 100 days as President has cooled slightly after a series of recent controversies. “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.”
Greg Norman relaxes at his Florida home, 36 years after he left Australia and moved to the US
Kutner with Norman