Norman: Get the big guns involved

Greg Norman believes the game’s top players should be more involved in the set-up of Major championship courses.

Greg Norman believes the game’s top players should be more involved in the set-up of Major championship courses – just as he has been for next month’s Open Championship at Turnberry.
“It just amazes me how it hasn’t happened more often,” said Norman, whose third-place finish at Birkdale last summer thrust the 54-year-old back into the limelight.
“It’s interesting to me how some of the great architects of the world – like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, myself and people like Nick Faldo – aren’t asked to do or give an opinion on what should be done on a major championship golf course.”
The Australian visited Turnberry – scene of his first major win in 1986 – over the winter following an approach from Royal and Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson.
“I thought it was just fantastic for him to do that because it gives him wonderful insight,” Norman said.
“I think everybody’s going to be pleased with it.
“From a player standpoint Turnberry has it all because you stay in the hotel, you walk down the hill, you get on the driving range, you never put a key in the ignition of your car.
“That makes it much more of a comfort zone for a player to go play. My memories are very good around there.”
Norman focused most on the bunkering around the course and felt that over time they had become less menacing than should be the case.
He said: “To me, links bunkers are more gravity-fed. If you roll the ball within 10 feet of the edge of the bunker, seems like it gets sucked in there like a magnet.”
He also saw the potential for something truly memorable in the future.
Norman explained: “I think they could build a golf hole out there which is probably as good as any par three in the world – and it’s sitting right there ready to be done. There are opportunities like that going forward.”
Norman’s Open performance last year stunned people because he had become a part-time player and confessed to playing more tennis than golf after his marriage a month earlier to Chris Evert.
This time he says he will have “a totally different mindset”, adding: “I’ve kept my practice and playing on a fairly decent schedule – not to the rigorous routine I had back in my heyday, but it has been substantial.
“Equipment has definitely been a great benefactor to somebody of my age because you do extract the maximum amount of performance out of the game even when your body doesn’t allow you to do it.
“I’m still strong. I’m still flexible. I still have some aches and pains, but I’ve kept myself in pretty good shape to allow myself to hit golf balls a couple of hours a day, day after day.
“I’m definitely going to go into the British Open wanting to compete the best I can compete. That’s all I can say. Setting goals and making cuts, being in the last group, that really doesn’t even set in your mind.”